Mirror, mirror on the wall… Oh! that is ME.
By Luisa Fernanda Cicero (Garcia)
When I was a little girl, about six years old, my parents moved to Venezuela. One of my first memories there was of my Halloween costume. My grandma Elena made it from scrap material. It was a gypsy dress with vivid colors and ruffles on the skirt. She curled my hair, put her long necklaces and big round earrings on me and said, “Mija, you are the most beautiful gypsy in town. Hold this tambourine and dance.” So I did.
Even that young, I noticed that when guitar music played or flamenco sounds stirred, something inside me moved deeply, sometimes hurting to the point that I did not want to keep listening. Often, I would run away or ask my dad to change it. I understand now that when emotions are deep and you do not know how to handle them, some children hide or run away.
What was next in this journey? My mom signed me up to learn to dance “Gallego.”Yes, with the “Hermandad Gallega.”So my best friend, Mayrim and I jumped and clapped with music from Galicia.
Life passed, years went by and people came and left, but always brought to me something from Spain: Sherazade, my dad’s cousin’s wife, her sister Loli and their mom Julia, they are Spaniards from head to toe. We danced a lot—with or without wine. Then the Toros” season in Bogotá, with that came “pasodobles” and the beloved “remates de corridas”. Our neighbors were in the “toros” business and we got along really well. I still remember that rumba flamenca Inés Elvira and I used to dance after a few glasses of wine: “Sevilla Llora” (Sevilla Cries) by the Coro de la Hermandad de Sevilla. You get my point. Spain somehow has been always near me.
After my college years, I moved to the United States with the company I interned for three years at in Colombia. I married, worked 12 years more in corporate America and during that time, it never came to my mind to think of Flamenco. Me? married, two kids, traveling, working. No way!
Life changes and God has his ways of reconnecting us with our passions. I resigned to start a new journey that put family first, a decision I cherish even as I acknowledge its challenges. After a while my identity as a woman became the wife of a man, the mom of two boys and if I removed the title of my other activities, then those became my identities. As a stay-at-home mom and housewife, my pride in my family was tested by the loneliness that comes when identities and aspirations are lost in the process of daily struggles.
Almost two years ago, during the summer approaching my 40th birthday, I began a deep transformation process. Some might call it a mid-life crisis even though I don’t intend 40 to be the middle of my life. For me it was not a crisis. It was a time of re-discovery and it took every ounce of my courage. I remember being in my pajamas with Donna in Virginia. It nearly 10:30 a.m. and we decided that it was close enough to lunch, to open a bottle of white wine. It was time to talk about being women. So we did. Our big and little men were out and about. I found an issue of Oprah magazine. Yeah, sometimes I read her magazine. And in the cover it said something like “Re-discover yourself, realign with your talents and….” We were sold! Next thing, we were completing the magazine survey.
We laughed, cried, drank and laughed some more. At the end, we found amazing things that we had forgotten.
When we got back home, within my transformation process, I told Daniel, I want to take Flamenco classes. That will be my outlet. Besides horses I can see and feel that becoming my passion. My search began.
I found a great place in the city and it sounded wonderful but it was going to be more than two hours commute for each class. After more search, I found Ritmo Flamenco. I was so excited. Fifteen minutes from home. It sounds good. I called Diane and asked her if I could come and watched a class. “Yes,” she said immediately. “Yes.”
While watching Diane in class and the students engaged in each movement, step, expressions, I couldn’t help but going back to all my memories, all those memories that meant so much to me. The memories are of me, but it was a different me than the one living today.
At the end of the class I told her that I was in.
It has been almost a year since I joined Ritmo Flamenco and a lot has happened in between. Most of all, I found me. The first time I had black shoes on, the black skirts with red ruffles and black dots, with the black leotard on, and I looked at myself at the mirror, I saw “Me”, the woman I LOVED always and I have forgotten, the women with so much intensity, passion, self-confidence, life, that little by little had become a blur.
Life is a book. Mine has many pages written and tons staring at me in white, waiting for me to create my story. I am writing one day at the time. Now when I stand up tall and in posture, in front of the mirror and ask: “Mirror, mirror on the wall… Oh! that is ME and I love you with your skirt and black shoes.”
In those moments when I prepare to dance, the little girl in South America and the grown woman in America merge back into the same soul, a soul energized by passion for the future we are living together.