|Ryan Ramos is no (bailarin) wrote,|
@ 2015-07-13 19:28:00
Are you 18 or over?: Indeedy.
Source work and author: OC
Character Name: Ryan Ramos
Character Age: 23
Character Played By: Jessica Alba
Character History and Personality: It wasn’t about love. There wasn’t lack of it, that little apartment where you could hear the rattle at 125th Street late night and the street corners were loud long after dark. Maybe her mama loved too much, maybe that was why she ended up with so many ninos, one after the other until they were jammed in so tight that Ryan thought of home as heat and noise and yelling and laughter, one right over the other until it was the same thing.
There were five of them, before Ryan. Her eldest sister, then three brothers, a sister again and another brother and then Ryan, like steps on the fire-escape outside the bedroom window. No father to stick around and everyone knew they weren’t the same man’s kids least of all Ryan, because her old man had stuck around long enough to check she wasn’t the boy he’d picked out a name for and had gone right after. Maybe jail. Her mama didn’t stick with men long. She worked, the kind of houses that were four floors up and painted a bunch of shades of gray and white by women in big shiny cars with ninos who went to schools that were plaid on the knee and after-school music lessons. There weren’t after-school music lessons at home, there wasn’t a lot of money at home. Ryan grew up with her sister watching her until her sister’s man got her knocked up and then he left her, and it was her brothers who passed her between them like she was a fake dollar bill, to be traded. No harm, just a little sister around when no man wants a little sister in his business, even if he loves her big. And her brothers, they had a lot of business. They were loud, all of them - laughing, teasing, fighting. It was how family was.
Wasn’t a lot of money around. Food-stamps, they had those and her mama got a tip at Christmas from those big houses. There weren’t a lot of ways, making money in Harlem. Her brothers, they tried everything. Maybe her mama knew some of it, but her mama was blind to a lot of things she didn’t want to see. Her mama dragged her along to jobs when she was small enough not to need school, small enough to sit on the one unwashed spot on the kitchen floor and pretend to be still, pretend to belong to the big house that echoed like no one had ever shouted in it once.
Way of making it up to her, her mama took her to the center, place downtown where the women got together and drank coffee and talked over the top of el ninos’ heads. The center had classes, to dump them after school:to do homework and classes to do other stuff. Ballet and the music got to her first. Wasn’t like the music that played in the streets from passing cars, or from open windows at home. She watched from the doorway, paint peeling off the walls and music from a stereo that trickled like rain.
That was how it started. No pink, no silk shoes, no posters of girls twirling on the walls. Cracked linoleum and a teacher up front who looked like her, and point-and-flex in sweatpants and a t-shirt. Ryan, her feet flexed good and she was small. Not food-stamps small but too young for the ass that her sisters and her mama had, too young to get looked at on the street. Her sister, she was in another apartment like the one at home with her own niña screaming all night long, and her man in and out of fights. She couldn’t watch Ryan for her mama anymore and her other sister was out late and when she was home, her fights with mama were loud enough the people upstairs began banging, and the people downstairs turned their TV up loud enough Ryan could hear it through the floor. There weren't classes, closer it got to the summer and the teacher, she got a real job dancing for money and she left.
It was her brother who fixed it then. Diego, who had the money, Diego who traded cash for little white packets outside the bodega late nights, Diego who was barely eighteen and who found her sitting on the fire-escape outside when the apartment was too small for anything but fighting. Diego who said 'I'll pay' to see his little sister smile. That was how it continued.
More class. More little brown girls, but stood in lines: ten bucks a week for class led by a white lady in a shirt that scooped to there at the back, until you could see the knobs of her spine like piano keys when she bent over to demonstrate. Diego spent more nights outside the bodega, but Ryan, she went to bed dreaming of music like rain, and flex-and-point.
Ballet teacher thought she had potential. Ryan had never heard that word before, but it meant money, the way the lady said it. She begged, and Diego shrugged and he gave in, the way of all that wanting because the Ramoses never wanted all that bad for all that much, except each other. He paid. The white lady picked her out a leotard, took her to a school way uptown on the subway, stood her in the back of a class of little white girls in pale pink that would dirty up if you looked at it where Ryan came from. She went home on the subway, the ballet lady full of words and Ryan too full-up on music to listen. She went home, skip-stepping.
That night, car slowed down alongside the bodega. No one woke for gunfire late nights in Harlem, happened too often to wake up over it. But the knock at the door, and the cop stood there, hat in his hands like he wanted to give something stead of taking it away, that was new. Diego was gone, and her mama grieved until her eyes were red and she'd sat on the couch too long to keep the job in gray. She moved them, lock-stock to Queens, where her tia lived, all of the five of them jumbled up with her cousins.
The Joffrey wrote two months later. Full scholarship. Real potential.
Her mama made her take it. She did. Moved to a dorm uptown, where the girls chattered loud and there was no good-humored growl underneath, no belly-laughter. Lot of white girls in sugar-pink, and Ryan in the back row in the black her ballet lady had bought her before the audition, now real tight. She worked: worked like her mama had scrubbed the floors and every time one of those little white-girl titters at pointing wrong, or her arms in the wrong place, or maybe just because she looked wrong, she bit down on the inside of her lip and let none of it show. Bit her lip bloody, but she never said nothing. Pride, and the Ramoses had it, bagfuls. Pride didn't cost you nothing, except when someone said how much?.
She worked hard. Went home to her tia's at weekends, ate with her mama, laughed with her brothers, saw her sobrino at her sister's place. Worked long enough she got older, and she grew her family's ass and her family's breasts until she was hips and boobs in the mirrors at the studios, all that sugar pink couldn't wrap itself around her body and make her white. Ryan worked harder then. Worked long enough to pack muscle around bone, sinew instead of curve. Staved off some of it by working late at the barre, too tired for dinner. Home was trouble. Home was her brothers in fights, coming home late, home was her sister knocked up and her mama worrying over them all, but home was a tight knot of brown and the only place Ryan felt the same. But she worked, instead.
Working too hard to see her mama was sick, to go home often again. She made allies among some of the little white girls: not friends, not exactly. They tittered too long for Ryan to forget, but she was pizza slices on Saturdays and buying new pointe shoes downtown kinda allies, but late nights they were out with boys and Ryan, she was working in the studio. Her tia called. Come now, she said, her voice full the way her mama's voice had been full when she woke the morning after Diego. You've been away too long, she said and after the hospital, after watching her mama sleep, gray as paper, gray as the uniform from before, late night, her aunt was bitter.
You're only half, she said, accusing. Pretend to be white long as you like, abandon your family to pretend, but you're still latina. Half, and she shut Ryan out like she wasn't just half, she was whole. Out the knot of brown, but not white either. Truce, long as her mama was there, and then she wasn't and her brothers visited the school and they were close, like the old days but then she was graduating.
All that work, all that not fitting in. She was good. Worth it in the end, all that potential. She made it into the company and she bought sugar pink and silk shoes, like everyone else but in the mirror her hair was wild, and her ass stuck out, and she was brown, no matter if she was half anything. Brown, and she went out with her brothers Friday night, no performance and just rehearsal Sunday and she found a guy exactly like her brothers. Trouble, and laughter that rang off the walls, and he got them all into a fight that had them thrown out. Stuck around after, and she wasn't pink-and-sugar-white in his apartment, and he didn't think she'd snap like china when he picked her up.
Balanced him. Balanced dance. Both worlds, tips of her pointe shoes, bourre-ing back and forth. Kidding herself she could live that way: this way, that way. Until blue line showed up one month when she'd kidded herself some more it was just working off the beer and late nights that had skipped one month, then the next. Explained, heard her voice tighten around the syllables, snipped off one future for another. No more dancing between them. Didn't say she was terrified, didn't say she'd lost too much betting on one future to trade it all in.
He left. She made it to principal. Twenty-one and hips and tits and ass, but twenty-one dancing Coppelia. Modern, more than anything, but they shook off the old costumes and let the bodice out at the chest for the old, and Ryan liked modern more but she liked classic because she could.
Twenty-two and on top of the goddamn world, trip to Vegas to see her friend get herself hitched up to a man who seemed like a good thing. Vegas, and laughing in jeans and heels and crossing the road late to flag down a cab. Cab didn't stop. Neither did the car. Hit her, hip and knee, went over. They said he was drunk, after. Drunk, high, late nights pouring out of the clubs. He was real sorry, her lawyer relayed, stony-faced. Sorry didn't fix her knee, didn't fix her hip. Didn't fix her career, up in smoke.
Spent her twenty-third birthday in traction, in a hospital bed, with music like rain pouring out the stereo and staring at the ceiling. No career, no safety-net. Family across the continent. All of her squeezed into dance, and dance had slammed the door and shut her out. Lucky if she could walk again, the doctors said, brisk like they delivered bad news the way her mama had ripped off a band-aid. She worked at that, too. Got herself out of traction. Got herself into the cast, then the brace that ran hip-to-ankle. Got herself out the chair, short stints, and if it goddamn hurt, she'd learned to walk on the tips of her toes, she could master a little pain.
Got herself transferred overnight, from a bland hotel room with her stuff scattered around to New York City.
Journal/Key: Her journal is a tablet, small enough to put into the inside pocket of a coat. Her key fits the door of her apartment.
External Door items:
Family: Brothers and sisters - anywhere from 25 - 40.
Reinvention: Classical music and books and pointe shoes: the people Ryan knew before and after the ballet school. oiselle unshattered
Bad idea: The ex.