This is it. / by Vanessa Fiola

**Today is the last day I'll be posting for this round of 500 Words a Day, a creative writing challenge. Join the FB group.”

Here’s a little known fact: I cannot dance. Well, I mean.

I say “little known” relative to the world’s population.

It’s not that I haven’t tried.

Despite our humble financial position growing up—we were poor af—somehow my parents made room for ballet and tap when I was five. The last thing I remember is breaking out in chicken pox at recital. This might have been my earliest indicator that I crack under pressure.

In junior high I rewound Janet Jackson videos ad nauseum in the privacy of my grandma’s living room. I knew I wasn’t Ms. Jackson-if-you’re-nasty, but I also didn’t know I sucked.

Until, of course, I took a hip hop class while I lived in Austin. I signed up with three friends, two of whom were captains of their respective dance teams throughout school, and the third who definitely was not. I used her to feel better about myself. The class spanned 8-weeks, held in a gymnasium at UT. I still remember the first four beats to Nelly’s “Hot in Here”. You know I’m white because I initially typed “50 cent” until I had the presence of mind to google-verify. Anyway, those first four counts were as far as I got. I began the series at the front of the class with my two dancer friends; by week three I was out the door and practicing in the hallway near the bathroom. There was no week 6, 7 or 8.

Shortly after I moved to LA, I started teaching yoga at a dance studio. Convinced that my problem could be fixed by individual attention, I began taking more hip hop lessons from the studio’s strongest teacher. An interesting thing happened when I took private lessons: I learned that my hips could move like a poor man’s Shakira but my shoulders have the dexterity of Godzilla.

It’s surprising to me that I cannot dance. When I used to practice yoga regularly, strangers in class would sometimes comment on how graceful my practice was. (I promise this is not me being arrogant. Wait for it.) My yoga teacher at the time would call on me in workshops to demo Sun Salutations. In my mind that seemed to reinforce the positive feedback, but later I learned that was just his mating call.

I think back to those first days in ballet. I don’t remember when I became such an obviously poor dancer. Was it gradual? The effect of a judgement I internalized early on?

I’ve since aged out of regularly going out dancing, and now it’s limited to my kitchen with Jonah. Fortunately, he thinks I’m the best thing he’s ever seen.  


Gah! I’m going to miss this group. We came together, sometimes willingly, sometimes otherwise, and the alchemy has been magical. Hopefully, sleep is in my future, though it will be bittersweet. Thank you to everyone who read each others’ works (including mine), commented, engaged and otherwise had skin in the game. For me, it's really hard to put myself out there creatively in an environment that is ostensibly imperfect—write daily, no time to edit, keep it concise, to a room full of strangers. Except, of course, it is.