It wasn’t too long ago that my season with Nick ended, and my season with you began. Now, I am confronted with the very real possibility that the cycle is renewing itself again. Wednesday was my third lesson without you, and I was informed that you would be absent next week, too. The other teachers haven’t explicitly told me that you’re gone. I’m trying to remain optimistic, but each day that goes by further validates my feelings. If worse comes to worst, I’ve written this to say what I need to say:
I walk into the studio, and it’s too quiet. People are having lessons, the music is playing, but you aren’t there. There’s no affectionate “Hey, honey,” or “Hello, sweetie” as I walk in the door. The room feels less alive. You’ve been gone because you have someone you need to take care of. I understand. Do what you need to do.
Of course, that doesn’t erase the feelings of hurt and grief. It was so sudden. During our last lesson, I was trying to keep myself together because I was having a panic attack. I know you understand that I’m not normally like that, but the fact that was our last encounter stings my memory. Nothing can be done about it now.
I’m composing this letter to really put my feelings down into words. I’m not the kind of person to directly talk about my feelings with those I love. I show love through my actions and playful words. Well, now it’s time to drop those. Time to say it straight:
I miss you. I wasn’t truly aware that I’d bonded with you to this extent until now. During our interactions, I didn’t realize that the light, sisterly slaps, the jokes, the teasing, etc. was just this student’s way of saying “I love you” to her teacher. I know better now.
Teachers have come and gone in my life before. There’s nothing new there. I remember my elementary and middle school years had some losses. I remember the tears. I remember the pain. But, this pain is different. My love of dance is highly personal. Most of it comes from loving the people participating with me while loving dance itself (if that makes sense). You’re a part of that, Tommy. School is less personal. I love learning, but not school, so losing those teachers wasn’t as hard.
I wanted to thank you for everything. I think you were the teacher I needed most. Victor was the perfect first teacher, encouraging and patient. Nick disarmed my barriers and blessed me with his unconditional acceptance. Both of them were more than I could have ever wanted, but I don’t think they helped fulfill my greatest need dance-wise. What I needed was someone who wouldn’t hold back. You knew I had talent, and you pushed me. You wouldn’t accept my unwarranted timidity. You were hard on me because you wanted me to get the most from my time with you. I’ve had teachers like you before, and they’ve always been the most beneficial. If I ever become a teacher of any sort, that’s how I’ll teach.
I think the relationship between a dance student and teacher is wonderful. The physical contact and mutual trust between partners is unique. It takes a lot of trust in the other person to let them take your hands and dance with you. It takes even more when some of those dances portray the illusion of romance. You helped me solidify my trust in my partner. Yeah, I know you’re not technically my partner because there are professional and personal boundaries to observe. But you know what, you are my partner because I haven’t danced with anyone as consistently as you. The good Lord above knows that I love everyone at the studio dearly, but there’s something special about the person you have one-on-one time with. Our competitions together and the socials at the studio hold that separate place in my heart.
You’ve impacted my life positively. I hope I’ve done the same for you. Teachers enter and leave their student’s lives all too quickly, but I know that the love between they shared for each other lasts longer. Yes, I love you as dearly as a student can love her teacher. Even if both sides aren’t equal in feeling, I don’t care. I just feel grateful I got to know you. Wherever you go, know that I won’t easily forget the time we shared.
P.S.: To my readers, this was one of those “I-had-to-get-this-out” posts. As I said at the beginning of my letter, they haven’t told me straight up that Tommy is gone, but my past experience is whispering in my ear.
I wish it would shut up. Regardless, I’ll be sure to let y’all know when I receive any sort of confirmation. If I’m wrong, I’ll stand blessedly corrected. If I’m right, know that it won’t get me down. I’ve gone through this twice before, and the good Lord helped me through both.