Scene 1: Growing Up Fast
Karen’s high school years passed, hairstyles changed, and hemlines rose. Lyndon Baines Johnson continued as President, and R. Crumb became the greatest living cartoonist, while MacBird! became a popular play, and the Viet Nam War raged. Twiggy, with her painted-on eyelashes, became the leading fashion model.
Karen grew from being sweetly naïve into a sophisticated young woman of the world. She was not afraid of being a normal person. Karen allowed nothing and no one to impede her. She felt good about herself. No one could take away her confidence and self-worth. She built her character and worked hard on this throughout the years. She was levelheaded, and so could confidently take on new, mature matters by herself and reap the rewards of her growing independence.
Mama was ecstatic that her disabled daughter was blossoming into a young woman who not only expressed her joie de vivre through dance and horseback riding, but who shared it with students. Karen dedicated every moment to becoming the strongest and smartest person she could be. She wanted to give back. She became the change she wanted to see in the world.
She not only studied with Gilberto. She taught at his studio. And she taught disability horseback riding for Joshua. He wanted to pay her, but she refused. Gilberto paid her, and she donated her earnings to help Joshua turn his disability horse ranch into a proper business.
However, she needed more space than when she was a child. Gilberto’s studio was too busy for her to use for practice. Besides, along with teaching classes for him, she had taken on several disabled children as students, and she needed a studio to teach them. Her bedroom was too small. There was hardly room to practice spot turns without bumping into the bed or chest of drawers, much less teach kids to dance. She tried using the living room, but it was not much better. Finding an ample, peaceful space for practice and teaching became Karen’s primary goal.
One Saturday morning, over their usual breakfast of bagels with cream cheese and lox, Mama said, “My Krana Layala, we have to find you a proper studio to dance. You’re going to hurt yourself trying to use your bedroom. You’re too grown up now. Nevermind those kids you teach. It’s too small even for them!”
“But Mama, I asked Gilberto, and he says finding studio space is nearly impossible. There isn’t enough to go around.”
“You just let your Mama do her magic. Didn’t I find you a stable for Pegasus? Didn’t I find you Miss Natalie, for your math? And didn’t I find you Gilberto for your dancing? I’ll use the phone book and the classifieds, along with my natural intuition. I’m sure I’ll find something for my girl.”
Karen left to spend the morning with Pegasus as Mama sat down at her desk with the yellow pages and the newspaper.
When Karen got back, they ate lunch. Karen changed into a leotard and tights with a light purple striped dress that had a bow in back over them. They jumped into Mama’s car and drove into town. Mama had found four places that rented out studio space by the hour. Unfortunately, the first two were dirty. The third was clean but fully booked during after-school hours. A rude man who operated the fourth scoffed at Karen for having a handicap.
They drove home, and Mama called some friends. No one knew of any spaces.
She hung up the phone and said, “Oy vey! My Krana Layala. This is tough, but I don’t give up. We’ve done enough for today, but I’ll keep trying next week.”
Karen looked into her heart before replying. “Thanks for being my Mama and understanding, but you’ve done so much for me my whole life. I need to think this through for myself. I need to go into our garden, amongst our serene oases and listen to my intuition. I need to listen to my most beautiful and powerful self before talking with Pegasus. I feel that now, from the direction Pegasus, Mama, and Gilberto have given me, I can make my own now. I will begin to rely on and trust the answers that are within me. As a young woman of twenty, I feel I can turn to myself and the choices I make. I will become emotionally stronger and I will become more self-sufficient and reliant.”
Original text ©2023 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.