Because like some species of sweet, hopeful migratory bird, every summer brings a new flock of young ballerinas. They come to study dance, of course, at the various institutions in the city before returning to their other lives of school books, malls, and friends.
It could be the muggiest, grubbiest day and I'll see some steady-eyed girl from Chile or Detroit with pink tights and turned out feet and it makes my heart soften. It's not sentimentality. I was never a dancer. It's their open faces. It's their determination. It's that they are equal doses of grit and grace.
Sometimes there of seven or eight of them crossing the street with their buns and their big bags. Sometimes it's just a single girl, not even 13, with her mom, eating frozen yogurt after class. If you're extra lucky, when you see her, she's in costume and that costume, with the flick of a hidden switch, lights up and makes everyone who sees her smile.