I received my first copy of Jane Eyre when I was 10.
I opened it and read the beginning:
“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”
I’d like to say that, from then on, I was hooked.
But I’d be lying.
I didn’t get much further than the first page, although I was proud to have the book on my shelf.
When I was about 13, I took the book down and dusted it off.
I opened it and, this time, read right through to the closing line.
And I loved it.
I’ve read it many times since.
Fast forward to May 16th 2016, Surprise Day. Surprisingly OK
Arriving at The Surprise venue it was, appropriately, raining. (If you don’t know why I think it appropriate that we had rain at the start, read Jane Eyre.)
Heads down, hurrying through the rain, there was no possibility of my parents and I taking a walk that day, either.
We could definitely sit though.
In a theatre.
The best seats in the theatre, no less.
The Surprise was tickets at the opening night of Jane Eyre – The Ballet.
Best. Surprise. Ever.
But why was it such a good surprise?
I am not one of those people who began taking dancing lessons at the age of minus 1.
I didn’t pirouette out of my mother’s womb.
In fact, apart from a brief desire to take ballet lessons when I was 6 – because everyone else was – I had no interest in ballet.
I loved going to the theatre, but not to see a ballet.
Plays, musicals and concerts were more my thing.
I went fairly regularly.
Then I didn’t go at all.
Because I’d lost my hearing. memoir
Eventually, after many theatre-less years, someone suggested I go and see a ballet.
I rejected the idea.
I didn’t even like ballet.
So I sat at home.
Not going to the theatre.
I couldn’t go as I wanted to – hearing what went on – so I wouldn’t go at all.
As the saying goes, I was ‘cutting off my nose to spite my face.’
But that was fine with me.
Then one day, a friend had a spare ticket to the ballet.
Simultaneously, my nose decided that it didn’t like being cut off.
So, between my friend and my nose, I was persuaded.
Just before Christmas that year, I went to see The Nutcracker.
To be honest, I didn’t really follow it very well.
But I was back sitting on a red velvet seat in a theatre.
And it felt great.
Not the same as before.
Before, there had not been a ballet shoe in sight.
But before wasn’t coming back.
Now was here, though.
And now gave me two choices.
Concentrate on what used to be.
Or focus on what is.
I went for the latter.
Concerts are what used to be.
And yes, I miss them.
But ballet is what is.
I don’t need to hear it.
And, you know what?
‘Is’ is surprisingly ok.
I’ll never be a ballet expert.
But I am someone who has learned to enjoy it.
And that’s why a ticket to the ballet was the Best Surprise Ever.
It recognised who I am now.
Yet at the same time linked it with part of my past that still is.
The ‘My name is Emily and I am a bookworm’ part.
In Jane Eyre, one of the characters, Mr Rochester, loses his sight.
Jane asks him, “Can you see me?”
“No: but I am only too thankful to hear you.”
The Mr Rochester Principle.
It’s a good one….