My parents are hard working, very conservative, reserved people who do not believe fun is a priority. It was unlikely, given this type of environment, that my sister and I would ever be exposed to any cultural activities such as ballet classes or music lessons.
The course of our lives changed dramatically when I was in sixth grade. We moved into a large three story house which once belonged to a professor at the local college. It was on a tree lined street with lots of other kids our age to play with. The yard was large with rolling hills and lots of trees to climb. It was often the meeting place for kids and dogs of all sizes and shapes.
We loved our new house with its hardwood floors and happy kitchen with lots of windows. Our new bedroom was on the third floor with an adjacent large play room, which remained mostly empty.
In the bedroom we shared, there was a small hidden door. The door opened into a large dark dusty attic where the previous owners had left behind old books and records which became our favorite toys. The records were the thick 33 1/3 gramophone RPM type from the 1930s and early 1940s. To my sister and I, these records and books were wonderful treasures which carried our young imaginations far away.
We soon made friends with a girl in the neighborhood who had taken ballet classes. She taught us a few ballet steps and allowed us to dress up in her old dance costumes. We thought we were so beautiful gliding across the floor of our empty playroom to the music of Swan Lake and Autumn Leaves.
I've always been grateful for those childhood experiences which opened new doors for me and allowed me to appreciate classical music and ballet. I also developed a great love for classic literature while reading those left behind stacks of books such as "Gone with the Wind" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" over and over again. Those forgotten treasures in the attic revealed a world I might never have discovered if we had not moved into that wonderful old house.