Authors: Kathleen Varn
Tags: #FIC04100, #FIC044000, #PER003000
© 2013 Kathleen Varn. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, digital, photocopying, or recording, except for the inclusion in a review, without permission in writing from the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Published in the United States by BQB Publishing
(Boutique of Quality Books Publishing Company)
Printed in the United States of America
Library of Congress Control Number: 2013938517
Book design by Robin Krauss,
To my amazing husband, Steve, who supports all my zany projects and hobbies. And to all the true friends and family that pushed me to pursue my own dream to Unveil Ameera. You’re the best!
Although this is a work of fiction, I admit it was driven by my own desire to dance—but was told I couldn’t, shouldn’t, or was forbidden. As I pull my main character into facing a long neglected dance zone, I’d ask the reader to be patient with her. Her story focuses on the impact of chasing a glittery dance dream and lack of experience in a spotlight. In spite of many off the page life experiences, she’s suffered and victoriously overcome many obstacles— especially as a woman. But, Ameera’s pioneer spirit blazes a trail through the unknown land of Dance.
Palmetto Oasis Middle Eastern Dance Troupe is real. I was given permission to use many of the actual troupe members’ names. They’ve been patient and supportive as I labored to unveil Ameera. I’ve embraced their generosity to take creative license with the unbelievable glittery story. I hope to show the bonding power of resilience, humor, and passion among friends and strangers. The therapy of dance is real—not fiction.
I would not have accomplished this tale if I hadn’t been introduced to Shari Stauch. Her publishing experience and . . . let’s say it like is . . . puts your balls to the walls honesty required me to get mad and tell how unfair life can be. BQB Publishing enthusiastically polished the project with many talented artists. Terri Leidich, Heidi Grauel, and Julie Breedlove offered prompt answers and resources. My editor, Sharon Hecht, untangled my grammar and cut story interruptions without ripping off the band-aid. Even the book cover embodies many of the messages in the story. Kendra Haskins did an amazing job with my website—capturing the ‘pretty’ that makes women and little girls say “wow!” And, thanks to Leroy Mazyck (Pixel Studios) for always easing the stage fright in front of his camera. He did a fabulous job with my author’s headshot. When I doubted my ability to finish the project, it was my family, friends, and community that urged me on.
If you are reading this, I want to thank the readers! I hope you enjoy Ameera’s glittery release from her forbidden zone. From my own experience, once you’ve been bitten by the dance bug, it infects all the senses and perceptions. It reveals old tapes and fears and rewards you with unique memories and bonds.
But, most of all, I thank my soul mate, Steve. He made me his queen and supported my search for the little ballerina that got left behind in my childhood. It takes a special man to stand with his belly dancing wife. They can’t be afraid of a little glitter!
“Whenever a little girl ran to the dancers in the middle of the room and started dancing, the faces of the older women lit up, they laughed loudly, for life had taken on a new rhythm, a rhythm that was before us and would continue after we had gone. Of course, these performances were also used by the mothers-in-law to take a close look at their future daughters-in-law. And we girls knew about it. Yet when an old woman got up to dance, suddenly, something that was there could not be expressed in words—a gift, a woman’s prayer filled the room, borne by the subtle, nearly wise movements of one who stood far ahead of us in the long chain of women.”
The year 2006 was my year of change. According to the Chinese calendar, it was the Year of the Dog, the same sign under which I was born in 1958. Specifically, it was the Year of the Red Fire Dog—I thought of it as the Year of the Hotdog.
In 1982, I was a Pentecostal wife and a young mother and everything I knew about the Chinese zodiac came from discreet glances at paper placemats at all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets.
On one of these placemats, I’d read, “The Dog symbolizes responsibility, loyalty, compatibility, and kindness. Dogs frequently offer kind words and useful advice, always listening and lending a shoulder when necessary. Ensuring others are happy is more important to the Dog than wealth, money, or success. Dogs can benefit by learning to relax and being more rational.” Pondering this description, I’d looked at my four-year-old daughter Isabella and then-husband Chris, a Pentecostal preacher’s son, and thought, Nothing new to me.
But that was then . . .
Now, twenty-four years and a new husband later—we’d married in 2002 after a five-year courtship—I was standing at the front door of a beautiful home that my husband and I had built together, looking out at the wetlands. The sun was rising, highlighting spiderwebs heavy with dew among the marsh grass. I’d no reason to be up early, since I’d retired from running a sole practitioner’s legal practice shortly after my remarriage, but my mind was still cluttered.
My late-stepfather’s estate had closed and our new Italian restaurant had opened in a problematic building downtown—part of a real estate legacy left for my soul mate, Steve, to manage for his family.
Early in the summer, my son Aiden had graduated high school. As we neared the end of August, I’d packed his bags for a trip to Europe with his father—my ex—and bade him good-bye.
With parental responsibilities waning, I had turned my focus to . . . me! Yet, even as I was preparing to send Aiden on his adventure, I’d stumbled on a goal for myself when I pulled out the local high school’s adult education class schedule and found a beginner’s belly dancing class.
Course description: Basic
introduction to belly dancing. No dance experience required: six weeks for $55.
First class starts September 12. Register online.
After I had found this, in no time at all, I was staring at the registration website, stressing and resisting the urge to say a few bad words throughout the online ordeal.
I’d toyed with the idea of enrolling in a dance class for more than a year. I’d dreamed of dance classes for what seemed a lifetime—ever since I completed the arduous commitment to homeschool my son Aiden during his junior year of high school. Aiden had argued to be homeschooled for at least a year since my retirement in 2004. I’d allowed my daughter Isabella to do it until she enrolled in high school, but after my 1994 divorce I wasn’t able to homeschool while working full time and heading a single-parent household. So I’d agreed to his request. Not only had I taken on a teaching role that had put my new life on hold, I had to teach chemistry, which was anything but fun. Before and after his instruction time, I’d spent hours studying elements and stoichiometry. Together with extra knowledge, I’d gained extra pounds as a deskbound parent. As a fortyish mom who was only five-foot-three, I didn’t distribute those twelve extra pounds well. They attached to “the sisters” and found residence in the love handles that were not so fashionably referred to as “muffin tops.” That added smidgen to my waistline made my love handles scream, “Surrender to the idea of wearing elastic waistbands!”
I wanted to return to my fighting—excuse me—dancing weight. I’d always wanted to find my Red Shoes and dance, dance, dance. Instead, adult education and the realities of being in my forties were leading me to consider bare feet, a hip scarf, and a choli. All I had to do was click on “Register Now” and I’d be on my way to instant shimmyness.
My heart sank. Whenever “Just Click Here” flashed across the screen, my blood pressure rose and my self-esteem fell. If I missed “Required Fields” and accidentally erased my screen, I’d have to start over. But then I envisioned myself in sparkly costumes, twirling with jewel-colored veils, and wearing glittery makeup and obnoxious amounts of jewelry. Once I’d focused on the prize, I was able to return to my just-click-here fumble.