The "Something" Series: Season 3

“Need Something for that Burn?”: A Grace Monologue.

I must’ve been the first person to run out of tonight’s rehearsal once the director dismissed us. It was nearly 15 after 9 by the time we ended our rehearsal, which meant I had little to no time to get ready for dinner with Sahim. I ran out of the venue toward the hotel that we were all staying in; good thing it wasn’t too far from the venue and I knew where I was actually going.

I ran into the hotel room, hoping I was able to get to the elevator in time. Maybe Sahim isn’t waiting at my door thinking I stood him up or something. Maybe he knows that our director is a literal nutcase. I wanted to believe that just maybe I had some time to change and clean before Sahim showed up, but then again I wouldn’t be surprised if I tried talking to Sahim tomorrow at rehearsal and have him brush me off, thinking I ditched him for dinner.

I race out of the elevator and run to my room, quickly opening the door and entering it. Before I was able to turn on the lights, I immediately trip over my suitcase still full of luggage that I left on the ground. Face first; no protection whatsoever.

“Fuck!” I yelled out loud as I fell to the ground. I get up and feel a pain coming from my face. I walk into the bathroom to look in the mirror and see a cut brushed across my chin. I touched it, and of course, I winced in pain. What the hell were you expecting, Grace?

I didn’t have time to put 500 bruise creams on it for it to go away; I reached inside my bag of luggage and pull out a loose bandage. Something told me I needed to bring these. I slapped a bandage right on top of my chin, again wincing in pain.

“You know you’re accident-prone, right?” Sahim said as I tripped on my way to the rehearsal space; of course, I was late. He extended his arm out to help me get up from the ground.

“Please,” I began to say as I brushed myself off. “If you don’t see me fall at least once at every rehearsal, then that’s not really me.”

“Another Grace?” Sahim teased. “That’s too much Grace to look after.” I looked at Sahim and rolled my eyes, his award-winning smile flashes across his face. “Are you going to be okay for rehearsal?”

“Of course,” I answered as I started to walk toward the rehearsal space with Sahim. “As long as I don’t bruise, I’m fine.”

There’s a knock heard on my front door. I run out of the bedroom, tying my hair up in a messy bun after drowning it in dry shampoo. Aimee had told me that I must’ve been living under a rock for not realizing that dry shampoo is the savior for all dancers who sweat out their hair. Personally, I don’t like to use it but for the sake of saving time, it has to be done.

As soon as I straighten myself out, I open the door to see Sahim standing there. 9:30pm; he must’ve known.

“What happened to 9 o’clock on the dot?” I teased Sahim as he smiled.

“Something told me that you weren’t even here at 9,” Sahim teased back. The smile fades once he looks at my face. “You need something for that burn?” Sahim asked. I touched my chin out of reflex, once again wincing in pain.

“Nonsense,” I answered back. “You know that it wouldn’t be me if this type of stuff didn’t happen.” I tried to play it as cool as possible even though my chin was on fire like it was some sort o burn. I grabbed my coat from the chair and began to put it on. “Let’s go, I’m starving.”

The good thing about the area was that there was always a late-night spot open to eat. I had done my research before coming here; it was only right to get familiar with my surroundings since I’ll be here for the next year. Sahim was quite shocked that I knew the area so well already, but the secret of looking like you know where you’re going is to stay close to home… or the hotel that you are calling home for the time being.

Sahim and I ended up going to a Korean beef restaurant nearby that was still open. We were seated at a small table, surrounded by a small grill for us to grill the meat once we ordered. There was a long period of silence between us; I couldn’t tell if it was because we don’t have anything to talk about or if we were just exhausted from tonight’s rehearsal.

“This is a nice spot,” Sahim started to say. “How’d you know about it?”

“It’s always good to do a little research,” I answered. “It’s important as a traveler to be familiar with your surroundings.” The waitress came back to our table with drinks to start off with.

“You must travel a lot then,” Sahim said, taking a sip of water from his glass.

“This is my first time out of the country, but I did some traveling in the US,” I explained to Sahim. The truth of the matter was that my mom was the one that suggested I do some research before my trip here. Before I left, she told me that the one thing she wished someone told her when she was in India for the dance production she was a part of was that she had no idea where to go or who to ask for directions on her free time. She emphasized the fact that she ate solely convenience store food before actually being comfortable enough in her surroundings to explore.

“Oh? Anywhere story worthy?” Sahim asked. I looked at him and it was no surprise he was looking directly back at me. He was inventive, not really aware of his surroundings besides the fact I was sitting in front of him. It was kinda cute since I doubt that Sahim really know what’s going on around him. He looks so focused on the words coming out of my mouth. Sahim has always been that way, but I never seen it happen so up close before.

“Not really,” I laughed as I responded. “I just have family across the country that I tend to visit.” Sahim nodded his head and noticed the waitress coming back with the raw meat on a platter. I bowed in front of me and thanked her in Korean. I looked up to see Sahim trying to figure out what to do with the platter of raw meat in front of us.

“Sahim,” I giggled as I watched him examine the grill at the middle of our table. He quickly looked up at me once I called his name. “You never grilled meat before?”

“Not like this,” Sahim answered. I laughed and took the meat platter from Sahim, starting up the grill and lining the pieces of meat on top of it. Sahim watched me as I did so. “Did you research how to do this as well?”

“Ha ha,” I deadpanned. “I’m just well cultured.” Sahim laughs at my response as he grabs my hand holding the tongs.

“I’ll do it,” Sahim insisted. I gave him the tongs and watched him flip over the pieces of meat. “So Grace,” he started to say as he was completing his task. “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”

“Like what?” I asked as I watched the grill. Sahim looks up at me for the moment before going back to cooking the meat.

“How did you get into dance?” Sahim asked. I wasn’t surprised that was the question he was going to ask. I feel like you always ask someone that you work with that question; how did you come to this point in your life where we finally meet each other and enjoy each other’s company so much? I was used to questions like this; I even answered them when I was a lawyer.

“My mother is a world-renowned dancer,” I began. “She was a part of one of the original dance productions.”

“She got you into the craft?”

“No,” I answered back quickly. “I was introduced to dance young when my father put me into dance classes. I guess I just really enjoyed it to make it a career,” I explained. This was one of those situations where when you tell people in your life who don’t know about your past whatever you want to tell them about yourself. I didn’t want to get into the whole “my mom left me for her dance career” story. The more times I tell it, the more I have to sit back and close those open wounds and at this point in my life, I was tired having to do so.

“I guess it just runs in your blood,” Sahim responded. He began to remove the cooked meat off of the grill and place them in the plate before me. He begins to put more meat on the grill; I noticed that all of the meat he grilled was on my plate and none on his. I took an extra pair of chopsticks and take a piece of meat from my plate and hold it out towards Sahim. He looked up and smiled. He allows me to put the food into his mouth; I felt my face to get hot. I tried to change the subject to get the attention of of this… tension.

“How about you?” I asked as I started to put some garnish with the meat on my plate. “Tell me about Sahim before he got the tech job for the dance world’s most famous production.” My comment makes Sahim laugh.

“Well, I grew up in St. Louis, oldest of 4,” Sahim began to explain. “I moved to California for school to study film. I helped with lighting in a couple of short films here and there, but this is something I didn’t expect to get.”

“How’d you find out about the production?” I asked, genuinely curious. Sahim smiled and laughed a little; I’m guessing there’s more to the story.

“My mentor,” Sahim began to say. “Ex-mentor. She had suggested that I apply for the job.” Sahim finished grilling the last of the meat, placing some on his plate before putting the last piece on mine.

“Ex-mentor? What happened?” I asked as I continued to eat. I didn’t realize how comfortable I was getting because of the questions I was now asking Sahim. He looked at me before answering, but I immediately saw his face shift; maybe he was uncomfortable talking about it. “I’m sorry if it’s too private or-“

“No, no,” Sahim interrupted to answer. He took a deepbreath before saying anything further. “She was my ex.” I raised my eyebrows, not expecting that to be the answer. I nodded and continued to eat without responding. Sahim laughed at my lack of response. “Did you not date a choreographer or someone that was in the same field you worked in?”

“Please,” I began to say. “I was engaged to a lawyer.” I quickly looked at Sahim after saying that; I didn’t realize I was telling someone something that I tried to keep in my past. Sahim looks at me with wide eyes; he clearly did not see that one coming.

“Wait, you used to be a lawyer?” Sahim asked. Ironically, he doesn’t mention the fact that I was once engaged, y’know, suppose to get married at one point. In all honesty, it’s easier to explain my broken-off engagement to new people than explaining how me, a dancer, was once a damn lawyer.

“Yeah,” I answered shortly, hoping to not get into too much detail about it. “I went to law school after college and got licensed.” I could tell by the look on Sahim’s face that he was thinking the same thing everyone else did. I sighed, knowing I needed to explain myself further. “I was a lawyer for two cases, but realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to continue doing.”

“What made you want to be a lawyer?” Sahim kept his eyes on me as he asked me all these questions.

“My father was in law enforcement, so I grew up around a lot of it and was interested in pursuing it,” I answered, finishing up my plate of food. Sahim nodded his head, continuing to eat his food until he was finished. Both of us leaned back in our chairs, clearly full from our meal.

Shortly after, our witness comes to our table to gather our empty plates. I look up to the waitress before she leaves to ask her for our bill.

Cheong-guseoleul bad-eul su iss-eulkkayo?” I asked in Korean, in which the waitress nodded her head and said she will return to our table with the check. I bowed and thanked her as she left the table. Sahim looks at me and takes in what just happened. He laughs in a way that he’s shocked, yet not surprised that he just witnessed what just happened.

“When did you learn Korean?” Sahim asked as he flashed his award winning smile. God, he’s adorable.

“Back in college,” I said, altering my past to not only make other people believe it as true, but to also make myself believe it as well. “I just took it as an elective, but who knew it would come in handy after all those years?”

“I’m… learning a lot about you tonight,” Sahim responded as he smiled.

“Am I everything you thought I’d be?” I playfully teased just so I can see his smile stay on his face for a little bit longer. Sahim plays with his tongue inside his mouth, clearly thinking about what to say next.

“You completely surpassed my expectations,” Sahim flirted back, in which I felt my face get hot. I laughed at his response, nodding my head. Sahim continues to look at me as he leans forward on the table to get closer to me.

“Say something to me in Korean,” Sahim said. I looked at him as he smiled in a flirtatious way.

“Say something,” I said as I sat across the table from Jamie at dinner. He looks up to me, confused.

“What?” Jamie asked.

“In Korean,” I answered. “Say something in Korean.”

“Dangsin-eun wanbyeoghabnida,” Jamie softly said to me. “You are perfect.”

“Grace?” Sahim called out. I looked at Sahim and see that the smile has faded; he looks concerned and worried.

“Oh I’m… sorry,” I said, trying to get my composure back. “mianhaeyo.” Sahim smiled, looking relieved that I was okay. He gets up from his seat and extends his arm toward me.

“Let’s go back to our hotel,” Sahim mentioned. Back to our hotel; oh how romantic does that sound?

The "Something" Series: Season 3

Something Professional To Talk About: A Grace Monologue.

It was a humid, rainy night in New York for rehearsal, and of course, I forgot an umbrella on my way. I guess that’s what I get for assuming that the weather during the day would stay the same at night in the changing seasons. I got to rehearsal drenched in rainwater ad my hair was slowly turning into a red, frizz ball. I dropped my bag on the ground and sat on the bench in the dressing room where Aimee looked down at me as she placed her things in a locker.

“Damn Grace, you don’t look at your weather app?” Aimee asked. I looked up at her, not really wanting to get into this conversation once again. “Do you need to borrow leotards for rehearsal?”

“No, I’m good,” I said, unzipping my bag and taking my things out to change. “Good thing it didn’t start to rain until I was only a few blocks away.”

“You sure it was only a few blocks?” Aimee questioned. I looked at her and rolled my eyes, tying my frizz ball of hair into a manageable bun. I sarcastically laughed, to which Aimee shook her head; clearly, she was not pleased with my response.

“I’m just glad I made it on time,” I changed the subject as I undressed into my rehearsal outfit. Aimee turned around to help me out; she could see that for every rehearsal, I struggled to hook or suck or place something on correctly.

“Yeah? Got the little one home on time?” Aimee asked, referring to Willow.

“She’s staying with me while Max and Miriam are on their honeymoon,” I answered, zipping my bag and placing it into my locker. Aimee looked at me.

“Honeymoon?” she asked as she began to tie her hair back into a bun. “They finally got married?”

“Yeah,” I said, swallowing hard right after. I was happy for Max for finally setting down with someone who was looking to settle down with him. It doesn’t bother me that he was able to find someone to do that with first, but if I allowed myself to think about it too long, it does remind me that I was once Max’s fiance and that we were close to getting married at one point before everything turned to shit. Before I ruined everything.

“How do you feel about that?” Aimee asked. To her knowledge, Aimee believes that the last man I was with was Max since she knew he and I had Willow. The beauty of getting to know a completely new group of people is that you can tell them what you want to tell them about your past. You can completely bypass a part of your life like it never happened; maybe the more you avoid talking about it, the more you can act like it never did, and maybe one day convince yourself that it truly never did.

“I’m fine,” I simply answered. “I went to the wedding and everything. It was a beautiful ceremony,” I recalled as I finished getting ready for rehearsal. The other dancers were beginning to exit the dressing room to head out toward the rehearsal space. Aimee shuts her locker closed, not amused at me or my response.

“Mhm,” Aimee answered. “Well as long as you’re okay, that’s all that matters.”

“Please,” I scoffed. “I’ve been okay with it longer than Max knew Miriam. I’m happy for them,” I said as I close my locker. “Plus, I get two weeks to spend time with Willow.”

“Yeah, whenever we’re not in rehearsal,” Aimee pointed out. She walked away from me and towards the exit of the dressing room. I sighed loudly, gathering my things to also get ready for rehearsal. I hate how right she is.

As I walk out of the dressing room, I see a group of people at the end of the hall with tech equipment. I can hear the cinematographer talk to the group of people about the rehearsal. When the group of people began to walk toward the stage, I immediately try to get to the space on time, knowing that rehearsal was going to start. I get on the stage with the first set of dancers for the production; the lights were hitting us, practically blinding every dancer up on stage The director starts to call out for the cinematographer to adjust the lights. I take a deep breath, getting ready for another round of rehearsals.

“Alright, dancers get into position,” the director called out. I walk over to my place on stage and wait for the music to start. The first set was a contemporary piece, accompanied by a song that at first listen felt like it was all over the place, but the choreography made the song come alive. “5, 6, 7, 8!” The director called out, and the dancers started to dance. In the middle of the song, the beat changes, and I’m now center stage. I always get nervous with this part of the piece. I try not to close my eyes every time I dance to this part of the piece, but I can’t help but be myself being the center of attention for a minute and a half, which every other dancer transitions to a new spot on stage. This time is no different. “Cut!”

“Fuck,” I mouthed to myself. I opened my eyes to see the director looking directly at me.

“Ms. Ashmore,” the director called out. “We’ve gone through this too many times for it to keep happening.”

“I’m sorry, it won’t happen again,” I said back, wanting nothing more than to disappear.

“Good, because if it does, someone else will take the position instead,” the director said as she looked away and began to critique some of the other dancers in this set. I let out the breath I was holding in, finally not feeling as sick to my stomach as before.

“Alright, I need my first set on stage,” the director said. I was nervous to finally be on the stage that I would be performing on for the next year; even more so rehearsing the piece I always mess up on. I’ve gotten better as the rehearsals went on, but every now and then I catch myself making the same mistakes. Thankfully, I catch them before the director does, so I’ve managed to keep the position for this long in this particular set. “Dancers, get into position.”

I walk on stage and get to my first position for this set. I look around the stage; it is noticeably bigger than the ones we rehearsed on back in New York. I look out toward the empty sets, not realizing that they go further and further back and even up the balcony. I swallowed hard, realizing that this would possibly be the biggest venue I ever performed at to date. I didn’t get too much room to snap out of my thought since the music of the first set began to play, and the dancers had already started dancing. It was like my body was trained to immediately get into the routine, and before I knew it was almost time for me to take center stage and begin the second half of this piece.

I stood in place, waiting for the song to pick back up again for this half of the routine. I kept my eyes open, remembering to keep them open and to go along with the dance as best as I could. You got this, Grace. The music picks back up and I began to dance, letting the notes of the song spin my body around and the lyrics portray the emotion on my face.

“I saw Jamie at your showcase tonight,” Skylar admitted to me. I looked at her, my face stood frozen at the sound of his name. “Even after everything that happened, he showed up for you tonight. He said you were born to dance.”

I closed my eyes before hearing the director call out cut. I was too afraid to open them up and face forward.

“Ms. Ashmore, you know what I’m about to say,” the director yelled out, slamming her clipboard on the seat in front of her. Fuck, I ruined it. Before I could say anything, I hear Sahim call out from backstage.

“My apologies, Sonia,” Sahim walked out onto the stage and said to the director. the dancers all looked at Sahim; including me. I was confused as to why he just randomly showed up on the stage during a rehearsal. “I accidentally adjusted the spotlight too bright after that first half.” I looked at Sahim as he spoke, and he looked at me before returning to the back of the stage.

“Alright, take a 10-minute break! Dancers be back for the third set before time is up,” the director announced. The dancers on stage begin to grab their water bottles and other belongings, exiting the stage. I could feel exhaustion finally hit my body. I take a couple of sips of water as I exited the stage. I see Aimee and Maurice talking in the hallway between the two dressing rooms. They stop what they’re talking about and look at my direction.

“Hey, girl,” Maurice called out. “You good? Miss Sonia almost ripped you a new one on that stage.”

“Don’t remind me,” I said, wiping the sweat off of my face. “I don’t know why I always get so nervous in that half.”

“Because you overthink that half every time we get into rehearsal,” Aimee pointed out. I looked at Aimee as she took a sip of her water.

“Thanks for pointing out the obvious,” I said as I rolled my eyes. Aimee nodded her head, accepting the sarcastic response.

“Well you’re lucky that your beau took the blame for you,” Maurice said. “Like honey, those lights were not as bright as they used to be back in New York.” Aimee laughed at Maurice’s comment. I look at them, not amused by the conversation whatsoever. They immediately stop laughing and look down the hall. “Speaking of your savior, here he comes.” I turned around and looked in the direction Maurice and Aimee were looking at. Of course, it would be Sahim.

“Hey, Sahim!” Maurice called out. I looked at him, hating his very existence for calling Sahim like that. I turned around and saw Sahim walking toward the three of us.

“Hey, guys,” Sahim greeted us. He looks at me and smiles. “Hey, Grace.”

“So those lights, huh?” Maurice jumped in to say. “It’s always those damn lights messing things up.”

“Always,” Sahim laughed and grabbed the back of his neck; he seemed shy. That’s cute. “Anyway, do you guys mind if I pull Grace aside for a moment?” Maurice and Aimee looked at me, and then back at Sahim.

“We don’t mind,” both Maurice and Aimee answered. Both of them walk away and laugh to themselves. I watch them walk away before I look at Sahim.

“Thanks for saving me out there today,” I said to Sahim. “I would’ve been on the next flight back to New York.”

“We don’t want that,” Sahim responded back. “Then who’s going to be my buddy to explore Ulsan on our time off?” I looked at Sahim, taken back.

“Please take Aimee and Maurice off of my hands,” I teased. “I already have one child to look after.” Sahim laughs and flashes his pearly, white teeth. That smile.

“It looks like they both have different plans for their time here in Ulsan,” Sahim whispered and nodded his head toward their direction. I looked over at Aimee and Maurice, making it very obvious that they were watching Sahim and me. “But I know how hard Sonia can be, especially since the show is coming up so soon.”

“Tell me about it,” I emphasized. “I just have to get used to the venue and I’ll be okay for the first set. First rehearsal in Ulsan jitters, you know?”

“Of course,” Sahim agreed. “Even the best dancers have bad days.” I feel my face get hot. I am totally blushing.

“Even the best videographer can have bad days too,” I said back, not realizing that I just flirted back with Sahim. I look at Sahim and see his pearly white teeth make another appearance. He totally looks like he’s blushing too. I can’t help but feel comfortable around Sahim; it’s like he makes me feel like we’re outside of this rehearsal space and are just two regular people just enjoying each other’s time. I think about what Aimee told me back at the hotel: you said that Sahim is a great guy, which tells me you thought about him as more than just friends.

The director calls for a 2-minute warning before rehearsal begins again. Sahim takes a deep breath before he says anything to me.

“I’ll let you get back into place for the rehearsal,” Sahim said. Before he walks away, I can feel my impulsivity creep up to the tip of my tongue. It wants what it wants.

“Hey, Sahim?” I called out before he walked too far away from me. He turns his head around, looking at me attentively. It was too late to turn back now, and maybe, just maybe, I need to start moving on with my life. I have a year in this country, and the thought of spending it with my two good friends and Sahim excites me. I haven’t felt this eager and excited about anything since–

“What’s up?” Sahim asked.

“I should be ready by 9,” I finally answered. “My room number is 320.” Sahim smiled brightly as if saying this made his entire day. It was cute to see him get all nervous but excited at the same time.

“I’ll see you then, Ms. Ashmore,” Sahim said before walking back to his post. I hear the director call out our 1-minute warning before rehearsal began again. Fuck. I ran past Sahim to make it back onto the stage on time.

The "Something" Series: Season 3

Getting Over Something to Get Under Something: A Grace Monologue.

The sun was setting on my first day here in Ulsan. I fell back onto the bed and exhaled loudly after taking out all of my belongings from my suitcases and putting them away. Even though this place was just temporary until we started the production next month, I knew that no matter where I stayed it was going to be permanent for the next year.

I sat up from my bed and looked around my room; the city at night surprisingly feels so similar to the city in America and it somewhat adds a level of comfort for me. Maybe I can never escape city life, no matter where I go. I looked at my phone for the time; I had about an hour to kill before I had to go to tonight’s rehearsal. It wasn’t until shortly after that I got a call on my phone; it was my mom. Isn’t it like 5 o’clock in the morning in New York?

“Hi, mom,” I answered the phone getting up from the bed to gather my stuff for rehearsal.

“Someone forgot to call when they landed,” my mom pointed out. I couldn’t help but smile at her response; sometimes I forget that she has motherly tendencies with me.

“Sorry,” I began to say. “Check-in was crazy and I just wanted to relax before rehearsal tonight.”

“They have you guys going to rehearsal already?” my mom asked, shocked. “They gave us at least 24 hours when I was a part of the production.”

“Yeah, well that was back in the old days,” I teased. “When was that; in 2023?”

“I was 15 in 2023, smartass,” she corrected me. I couldn’t help but laugh; it was nice to finally feel like I can talk to my mother and joke around with her. Maybe it was because she’s the only one that understands the position I’m currently in. “How are you adjusting to everything though? They don’t have you living in a shoe box?”

“No, mom,” I answered. “They have us at this hotel before we move into our apartments,” I placed my phone on the table and put my mother on speaker as I got ready.

“Did you eat anything yet?” my mom asked. I rolled my eyes at her question; I already know where this was going.

“I’m going to get something after rehearsal,” I answered, looking at myself in the wall mirror. “I had a couple of snacks on the plane.”

“Grace,” my mom simply said. Here goes the “mom scolding” thing she likes to do nowadays. “You’re going to rehearsal on an empty stomach. You need to eat something.” I know that my mom worries the most about my eating habits; it was something she also struggled with when she was a dancer in her younger days. Ever since Skylar told my mom about me not eating for the first couple of weeks during my time in California, she’s been on my case about eating. When I was in New York for the short time, I stayed with my parents and my mom made it apparent that she was going to make me eat like a regular person. I’m trying, I really am, but this is just a habit that doesn’t go away overnight, especially when I’m rehearsing for one of the biggest productions of my dance career.

“I will, mom, ” I said, trying to change the subject of this conversation. I suddenly hear a knock on my door. I walk towards it, still talking to my mom on the phone. “Plus, I hear that Korean food is like some of the best food to have.” I open the door and see Aimee standing there. I invite her into my room, walking back to where my cell phone is.

“Well you better eat something before your damn rehearsal, Grace,” my mom sternly says. “I’m not there to make you eat when you need to eat!” I look at Aimee, who looks at me with her arms crossed along her chest. Oh boy.

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Ashmore,” Aimee begins to say. “Maurice and I will make sure she eats.” I can feel my face get hot. If there’s one thing that I wish never happened, it would be the moment that I brought Maurice and Aimee over for dinner after a rehearsal one night and noticed that I barely didn’t have anything on my plate. Of course, my mother had to bring it up in front of them.

“Hi, Aimee,” my mom’s tone completely shifts. “Thank you for looking after Grace!” I sighed loudly, I walked away from my phone and continued to get ready for rehearsal. 30 years old, and yet I’m still being treated like a child in one way or another.

“Okay mom, I gotta get going; I’ll talk to you later if I’m up,” I said, trying to end the conversation right then and there. I take my mom off of speaker and placed the phone near my ear. “Yes mom, I love you too. Have a good day,” I said and quickly hung up. I looked at Aimee, who then started laughing. “What?”

“Your mom will be a mom no matter where you are in the world,” Aimee stated, as she walked toward the small table in the room and takes a seat. “But speaking of eating; how about you obey mother’s commands and go and eat with Sahim after rehearsal?”

“Why are you on this agenda to get me to go out with him?” I asked, a little annoyed. “I thought you would be more understanding than Maurice about this.”

“The only thing I understand is that Sahim is a great catch and you’re letting a good opportunity go to waste,” Aimee emphasized.

“Then you go out with him,” I said, wanting to just end this conversation and get ready for rehearsal.

“Oh you know I wouldn’t pass on a free dinner,” Aimee laughed. “But sadly, all that Sahim wants to eat is you.” I looked at Aimee, a little disgusted. “Sorry, I meant ‘eat with’.”

“You’ve been hanging out with Maurice for too long, ” I mentioned. Aimee gets up from the seat and grabs me by the shoulders to grab my attention.

“Girl,” Aimee said in a more serious tone. “I don’t know what’s holding you back from just having dinner with this man, but whatever it is, you gotta stop letting it control your life.” She walks me in front of the wall mirror and turns me around to face myself. “You deserve to have fun and to make experiences in your time here. Whoever, or whatever, is holding you back from doing so isn’t deserving of you.” I look at myself in the mirror in my sweatpants, sneakers, and over-sized sweater. My hair is in a messy bun and if there’s any sort of makeup on my face, it’s been on my face for longer than it should’ve been. I turned around to look at Aimee. Having Aimee as a friend was different than any other friend I had. She was never pushy, and she understood a lot of the anxiety I had regarding the production as a dancer. If anyone knew how hard it was to balance a social life with this career choice, it would be her. Aimee was only ever “pushy” when she felt strongly about something. I trusted Aimee, yet she doesn’t know anything about my past before this production; all she knew was that I had a daughter and a mother who was well-known in the dance community.

“Look, I think Sahim is a great guy,” I began to say. I wasn’t lying; I enjoyed hanging out with Sahim with the little time we both had. It made the time pass in a way that I haven’t felt in a really long time, and that’s what scares me the most. What if I actually like Sahim more than I’m leading onto? What if I’m giving Sahim the wrong impression? What if Sahim actually likes me? “But it’s more complicated than what it really is.”

“So there’s an ex I have to fight, or?” Aimee said, balling up her fists together. I chuckled, appreciating Aimee not making this conversation too sappy.

“No, no, nothing like that,” I answered. “I’m just afraid of ruining a perfectly good friendship.” I was hoping Aimee would buy what I was saying. I wasn’t to admit that there was an ex that is holding me back from going through this whole mess again, but more so I was afraid of allowing another man that close to me again. What are the odds I mess up a perfectly good man again? Sahim is better off with someone else that wasn’t me.

Aimee cocks an eyebrow; she doesn’t believe a word I’m saying, but she doesn’t push me any further. She grabs her rehearsal bag from the small table, getting ready for us to leave.

“Whatever the real answer is, Grace, you deserve to move on with your life,” Aimee stated. “You said it yourself that Sahim is a great guy, which tells me that you’ve thought of him as more than ‘just friends.'” Aimee turns around and waits for me to grab my bag from the bed. Before we both walk out of my room, Aimee looks at me. “The only thing holding you back from moving on is yourself.” Aimee turns around and starts to walk down the hotel hallway. I sighed, locking the door behind me.

The "Something" Series: Season 3

Something New & Shiny: A Grace Monologue.

My life for the last three months has been strictly me in rehearsal with the rest of the dancers and production team. Traveling to different studios within the city, running to and from Yonkers to pick up Willow from school and bring her to Max’s house, then running on the train to make it back to the city in time for rehearsal. I spent more time in places in the city that had no memories behind them.

I was running late on this particular day; Willow’s class had come back late from a field trip and I had 30 minutes to make it back to the city for this. Thank God for Miriam for coming to get Willow this one time, but needless to say I was the last one to walk into the studio and get ready for rehearsal.

I dropped my bag on the ground to take out my pointe shoes, wrapping each satin ribbon around my ankles. I tried to run to the locker room to drop off my bag before entering the rehearsal space. In true Grace fashion, I was not looking where I was going and bumped into someone who just turned the corner.

“Oh shi—” I said and looked up. “I’m so sorry.” It was a man with a bunch of tech in his hands. He smiled and shook his head.

“No, I apologize for not being careful,” he said. “The production would bash my head in if I broke any of this equipment.”

“Same, but just if I broke any body parts,” I joked around. He laughed; I swear he had the whitest set of teeth I’ve seen on a man, and the deepest dimple on his cheek when he did.

“I guess we are both a very important part of this production,” he teased. “Well, more so you than me,” he pointed down toward my feet; I followed his direction. “You’re one of the dancers, right?” I nodded my head.

“Yeah,” I answered. “What gave it away?” He laughed, again showing off his award-worthy smile.

“Definitely not the dance shoes you have on,” he said, as he looked down toward my feet. I laughed at his sarcastic response. We both hear the director of the production announce that rehearsal was about to begin. I panicked, thinking I wasn’t going to be in place on time. I quickly run towards the stage, but I hear the guy call out for me before I go. I turned around to look at him.

“You’re Grace, right?” he asked. I was a little taken aback that he knew my name out of the dozen other dancers in this production. Maybe it was my hair color or something that made me stand out.

“How’d you know?” I genuinely asked out of curiosity. The director announces a 2-minute warning before the rehearsal begins. I really wanted to know the answer but was afraid I would be late for rehearsal if I waited.

“Because you’re the best dancer out there,” he finally confessed. I wasn’t expecting a response like that, to be honest. It was spontaneous but sweet. I smirked.

“Thanks. What’s your name?” I asked. The director yells out one-minute warnings and now I’m a little upset I probably won’t get his name.

“Sahim,” he finally answered.

Something completely blocked my eyes when I entered the hotel with the rest of the production team. I immediately panicked, turning around to see who or what it is. It was Sahim; I can tell because his big goofy smile was written all over his face, and he had just put his arms down to his side before I can catch him in the act. I smiled at him, greeting him in the lobby of the hotel.

“Sahim! Hey!” I said as I hugged him.

“I didn’t get to see you on the flight, so I’m glad to have got you in the lobby,” Sahim said. He looks at the two people next to me, Maurice and Aimee, and waves at them to greet them as well.

“I’m just glad we’re finally off that damn plane,” Maurice said. “They really had us in that damn plane like a can of sardines or something.” Sahim laughed, but Maurice was being serious; he hated to be in one spot for too long and an 18-hour flight across the country was something that was never truly on his list of things he wanted to do.

“Well, now we can finally relax,” I began. “Until our rehearsal later tonight.”

“I’m getting all the rest I need, honey,” Maurice responded and grabbed his carry-on and luggage. “C’mon Aimee girl, let’s go check in.”

“Please,” Aimee replied and walked with Maurice toward the front desk. Sahim got closer to me, now that it was just the two of us.

“Speaking of checking in,” Sahim began. “I was wondering once you settle into your hotel room, maybe we can go and grab some food to celebrate?” I looked at Sahim and raised an eyebrow.

“What are we celebrating?” I teased.

“The production starting less than a month from now,” Sahim answered. “Of course, it’s up to you. I know rehearsals are intense for the dancers now.”

“Intense ain’t even the word,” I emphasized. Sahim smiled at my response.

“Which is why I said it’s up to you,” he said. I looked at Sahim, a little nervous to give him a definite answer. I guess he noticed the expression on my face, so he continued to speak in this conversation. “I can pick you up from your room if you want to freshen up afterward.” Before I was able to say something, Maurice and Aimee came back to where we were standing, including themselves in the conversation.

“Girl, we gotta get ready for rehearsal tonight,” Aimee says out loud. “I’m trying to get in a nap before we gotta go and do this damn thing.”

“Watch out now,” Maurice said. “Miss Aimee’s a monster when she’s sleep deprived.” I laughed and shook my head. I was glad that within the last couple of months rehearsing in New York, I got to know Maurice and Aimee. Maurice is from Atlanta, which was also one of the major dance cities in the country. Aimee is from Boston; she clearly still has the notable Boston accent that everyone always is talking about when they think of her.

I turned around to face Sahim once more. He smiled at me.

“Just lemme know what you wanna do, Grace,” Sahim said, as he walked away with his luggage. It wasn’t until shortly after I feel someone hit my shoulder. Of course, it was Maurice.

“Girl, you better let that man take videos of you performing, if you know what I mean,” Maurice raised his eyebrows and smiled a cheeky smile.

“It’s not even like that,” I emphasized. “We’re both professionals working under the same production. We are both here for the same reason,” I said as I made my way to the front desk for official check-in; Maurice and Aimee follow me on my way there.

“I don’t know what you’re looking at,” Aimee began. “But anyone can tell that Sahim is interested in you.” I try not to react to Aimee’s observation. The truth of the matter is that during our time in rehearsals for the past three months, a lot of my time was spent on breaks talking to Sahim about the production and things related to the production. Sahim was good company, and he made rehearsal a good time when we were both on our breaks.

“It would literally be unprofessional of us to even think like that,” I responded back. Maurice forces a laugh to mock what I was saying. I rolled my eyes at him as I gave the lady up front my information to check in. “I’m here to dance, and he’s here doing the video work for the production.”

“I mean, it’s the perfect scenario; you and your beau in a foreign country for a year working on a world-renowned production together,” Aimee pointed out. “I think you should give Sahim a shot.” The lady at the front desk handed me my key card and room number. I bowed out of respect.

gamsahabnida,” I thanked the woman in Korean. She smiled widely; I think she appreciated me communicating with her in her own language. Maurice and Aimee looked at me like I just performed a magic trick, and they were dying to know how I did it.

“Girl, you know how to speak Korean?” Maurice asked, genuinely surprised at the interaction. I flipped my hair in confidence, walking towards the elevator to go up to my room. Maurice and Aimee followed me into the elevator.

“I only know the basic phrases,” I lied, trying to downplay the little Korean I learned back in the states when–

“Who taught you? Because even that phrase sounded so authentic,” Aimee crossed her arms to her chest, trying to figure out the mystery as well. I didn’t want to mention him, especially since I will be living in the country that he is currently also living in as well. This was the first time I actually thought about him, and how proud he would’ve been of me for communicating in Korean on my own without any of his help. All of this wasn’t worth getting into detail with; plus, I was also exhausted from this flight and the last thing I wanted to get into was something I have no energy for.

“I just picked up an English-to-Korean dictionary,” I answered, finally getting off my floor. “I’m going to get some rest, you guys. I’ll see you tonight for rehearsal.”

The "Something" Series: Season 3

Something About These Streets: A Prologue.

How can a place you called home for almost half of your life feel like a completely different place?

Growing up in Virginia with just me and my dad, I knew something felt off. I could never walk the suburban streets in my neighborhood and knew where I was going. I felt like I spoke a foreign language to those who lived in Virginia for most of their lives. Why wasn’t I one of those girls that married locally and had kids and stayed in Virginia? Why couldn’t my narrative follow the ones like the girls I graduated high school with? Why would my father ever introduce me to New York City when I was 17?

And why would this be the closest thing to home I would ever feel?

I turn around and look at the multiple suitcases, opened and ready to be packed. I sigh, wishing I was already done with this phase of packing up my life and leaving for another country.

I remember the night Morgan called my cell phone, letting me know that I passed the audition and got chosen to be a part of the dance production in Ulsan. It was also the night I almost threw away my sobriety, which in a couple of days would make it a year since being sober. If anything, this opportunity was the only thing keeping me from going down the rabbit hole of self-destruction. Spending the holidays with my family this year was something I haven’t done in a long time either. It felt good to be around my parents, to spend all this time with Willow, and to enjoy my time before saying goodbye for the next year.

I notice my mom walk into the room I’m staying in with a pile of folded clothes. She placed them on the bed and smiled at me.

“These bags aren’t going to pack themselves, sweetie,” my mom said as she placed the folded clothes into one of the suitcases. “You are catching a red eye tonight.”

“I know, mom,” I answered. “I’m trying to decide what to bring and what I could live without. Saves me money on the additional luggage fees.”

“Grace,” my mom says as she laughs. “It’s either you pack what you need or you’ll end up buying way too many things while you’re there.”

“Yeah, I guess,” I answered, not really paying attention to my mother. She could tell my head is in another place. She walks over to me and looks at me before she says anything.

“What’s going on?” she simply asked. “Are you having second thoughts about going?” I look at my mother’s face, trying to read her emotion before I say anything. I wonder if she looked at me with that same look when she left to further her career when I was a baby. Did she know that she was about to make one of the biggest decisions of her life, potentially leaving her home behind to possibly find one elsewhere? For some reason, I feel like I am now wearing that same face she wore when she was around my age.

“Did you go abroad because you didn’t feel at home anymore either?” I asked. My mom scrunched her face, not expecting me to ask such a deep-rooted question. She sat me down on the edge of the bed alongside her; I instantly regret letting my curiosity ask this stupid question.

“I didn’t feel like I belonged in the home I had,” she honestly answered. “And it wasn’t until I was away from home to realize I did. You and your father were always home for me, but I realized that later in life and-“

“No,” I interrupted her. “I mean did you leave because you tried everything in your power to make this place your home, but nothing ever worked?” My mom tilted her head to the side, which gave me the answer without her saying anything. Why the hell were we so alike?

“Between us, Grace,” my mom began. “It was very hard for me to stay put in one spot at your age. One inconvenience made me believe that I wasn’t the right person for anyone; not for your father, and not for you. And I think that’s something inevitable; something just in our DNA that we couldn’t ever fight against. I know home for you isn’t the people around you.”

“I don’t feel bad for leaving Willow here in New York,” I admitted. I sound like the world’s shittiest mother, but I’ve grown to learn that I will always love Willow. She will always bring out a part of me that I never knew even existed. Even trying to be even the slightest of what a mother is to a child, I know Willow will be just fine. Willow’s home doesn’t involve me in it, and I learned that on the days when I went to visit her and she simply didn’t cry whenever I had to leave. “New York and Max and Miriam are her home.” My mother nodded; I think she understood where I was coming from. “Does that make me a shitty person? Being a mom but not being a part of your child’s home?”

“Do you feel like a shitty person?” my mom asked back. She already knew the answer; I didn’t have to answer that for her. “You are doing what a lot of people are too afraid to do. That doesn’t make you a shitty person and you and I both know you are not.” My mother was one of the hardest, yet easiest people to talk to. She would tell you what was on her mind, but she also knew what was on yours; specifically on mine. It makes these hard conversations easier to have; nothing too hard-to-swallow really needed to be said out loud into the universe. She smiled back and got up from the bed. “I expect nothing but pictures sent to me during your time there though.”

“I’ll try to be better at doing that,” I laughed as I started to help my mom put things into the suitcases.

I was worried that my flight would get canceled when it started to snow in the city. I almost read it as a sign that I shouldn’t go and that maybe the universe was telling me to stay in New York. I fought with the thought ever since coming back for the audition. When I first came back to New York at the end of the summer, I questioned if I should just stay here and go back to the academy. It made the most sense to just stay in New York, run the dance academy, clock in and out, and go home to start all over again the following morning. Being in California should’ve been the realization that New York was always meant to be my home.

But it was walking by the cafe that would break my heart. I saw the cafe and felt the hollowness in the shell that my body is. It’s like I could still hear the laughs and the flipping sound of paperwork while sitting at the table closest to the front door. I could still smell the Mocha Iced Latte I would get to keep me up during the late nights trying to wrap up the case I was working on when I was a lawyer. I swear sometimes I can smell his cologne when I walk past this cafe. I thought maybe if I stopped walking past the cafe I would feel better about being back in New York, but even being in Brooklyn in Emerson and Cami’s apartment I could remember the game nights the four of us would have together. Even walking through Bryant Park made me remember that this was the place where I decided to introduce my home to a complete stranger, who I then started to trust. A stranger who I just met, but began to fall in love with.

I realized early on that New York City was only home when he was here with me. I still remember his words back in California when he explained how home was what he made it whenever he traveled. I wonder if he felt like he was home when he was in New York City? Something deep down tells me that he did, because then this fucking city wouldn’t feel so empty without him here. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel like he ruined the chances of me ever living here without him here.

How do you lose your home after building it and living in it for almost half of your life in a city? When you allow people who can’t stay to become a part of your home.

“Flight 427 to Incheon International Airport is now ready for boarding,” the announcement stated. I let out a sigh, getting up from my seat and rolling my bags to my terminal with the rest of the production team.

Let’s try to build a home in Korea for the next year, Grace.