Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prose: Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time, in the far off land of New York City, there lived a young woman of twenty years (me), who loved to dance. She was a member of an African-jazz troupe that performed in clubs in and around the city. All the dancers were black except for her, the token white.
Spending days in the rehearsal studios, getting sweaty, laughing, striving, and living with these beautiful people was the most natural thing in the world for me, in the early sixties. Sometimes, I would turn and catch a glimpse of all of us in the large studio mirrors. Who was that white person dancing? What a shock to see that I was different!
We had wanted to get an extra rehearsal in, before a performance, and I offered my parents apartment where we could meet. I was still living with them while I was attending drama school. I knew they would be away for the weekend and we had a very large living room with a great floor for dancing. We lived on Park Avenue and 80th street. It was in an old stone building that had two elevators. One was for the residents and guests, and one for deliveries and servants.
When the back doorbell rang, I was surprised. I wasn’t expecting a package at that time on a Saturday morning. Standing there, to my chagrin, was a member of our troupe. I was mortified that he had been sent up on the back elevator. With many apologies, I ushered him in and then went to tell the elevator man that the others were to be brought up the front way. It had never occurred to me that inviting black people up would be a cause for segregation. This was, after all 1962 in New York City!
Now, Once Upon a Near Future Time, a black man will be moving into the White House! Yes! The reality speaks to the heart that knows we are One, a large troupe of dancers trucking down this highway of Life.
Prema Rose

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