January 3, 2012

The Creative Universe

Yesterday, I had an interview to teach Zumba Fitness at a local club. Although I already do some private teaching the thought of teaching in a 'real' club - a nice one at that - got me pretty excited. I had been choreographing and practicing my routines for the last six months and I was ready to show the housewives of Hillsboro how to embrace their inner Shakira.

This all came about rather unexpectedly. On Tuesday I had asked the Universe to help me find a creative way to earn a few more dollars to pay off my student loan. Later that day I got an email from the fitness director of a gym I had applied to several months earlier. Her Zumba gal had left and she was wondering if I would be interested in taking over the class which ran 3 mornings a week. This couldn't have been more perfect if I had ordered it up myself. "You rock, Universe!" I said, giving it the sign of the cross over my heart. I wasn't sure what that meant but it was the closest thing I had to a Thank You card. Anyway, I was sure the Universe had gotten the gist.

The fitness director wanted me to put together a group of songs and audition them for her. Although I have done these routines hundreds of times, the thought of doing them in an empty gym while a lady with Reebok's and a clipboard graded me, was a bit nerve wracking. So I chugged a few sips of wine,  swallowed  half of a pill the dentist had given me over a year ago, and repeated the mantra "I embody health" until my chest hurt. Relaxed, I laced up my sneakers, put on my workout gear, and loaded my play list. I was ready to rumba.

I tried to reassure myself that it didn't matter if I got the job or not. It was only a few hours a week and the money wouldn't make or break us. I already had a pretty good gig going with my current group of ladies and if I got the job I'd probably have to give that up. It was a win win either way. Still, I practiced my peppy pose in the rear view mirror the entire ride to the club, flashing dimples and teeth, wondering if I would get extra points if I could pull off the Tony Little smile.

"Now, everyone, step-together-step-touch! That's awesome. You guys rock." I encouraged the make believe group in my back seat. I even offered an occasional thumb's up to bolster their morale.

As I pulled into the parking lot and saw the building once again - that great big glorious building with equipment that was actually built according to safety standards in this century- something hit me. To heck with Win/Win. To heck with teaching in my living room. I wanted to teach here! I began dreaming up  a scenario in which I was dining with an unknown lady in a hat. She would ask "Now April, what is it you do again?" To which I would reply,  "Oh, I write but my real love is Zumba and I teach at this amazing club. Really, darling, you should check it out." And we would giggle and nibble on our cucumber sandwiches.Resolute, I sleeked my hair into a long ponytail and parted my bangs to the side so that I would match the ladies who were exiting and entering the club. "Here goes." I entered the building.

I went to the main desk and asked to see Jen, the fitness guru who would be judging me. The girls behind the counter looked  perplexed. Jen? Who was Jen? This started a whole wave of people looking for the elusive Jen. Finally, I dug out my phone and showed them the email she had sent me. "See, she exists." All the counter gals formed the same pursed-lip gaze until one of them figured it out.

"Jen works in North Portland. At the Summer burg Center." She snapped her fingers in recognition. "I can get you her number. I'm sure she can push up your interview."

I looked up the address on my digital map and my heart sank. That area was almost an hour drive and in an area my husband referred to as 'unsavory'. The gas alone would hardly recoup the hourly wage they were paying me. My dreams of Shakiran housewives and finger sandwiches vanished in an instant.

"When I asked for a creative way to earn money, I was hoping you would keep it local," I scolded the universe as the automatic doors opened to release me back into my natural, ponytail-less habitat.

"How'd it go?" My husband asked as I slunk back into the living room. His face was so hopeful. I now knew what it was like to be a hunter who returned without a lion.

"It's their North Portland club." I said, flopping into the couch next to him. "It's too far."

"Too bad. You would have been great. Another opportunity will come along, babe. You're ready."

"But I wanted that one. The place had a spa in it."

"Yeah, I know. But think of all the good you are doing for the ladies you are teaching now."

"Not one of them wants to be like Shakira though."

"No. But a few of them want to be like April."

I smiled. "Do you think I'd look better with a pony tail?" I held my hair back for him to see.

"You do have a beautiful face, but I love your hair just as it is. Would you like to go get a sub sandwich with me?"

"I would," I answered. And I told them to hold the cucumbers.

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