for those with sorrow

The word bittersweet can be no better defined than through the simple act of growing up.

As a child I wanted nothing more than to grow up. Through my college years I had but one goal: to be older than I was. As a small girl I wanted to be old enough to understand, old enough to do it myself, old enough to be the boss. I detested authority, blatantly ignored the advice of my elders. (I was completely unaware that the becoming wise was a product of listening and observing.)

I wanted to be sixteen so that I could drive myself wherever I wanted. (Which, as it turns out, was no where. I simply didn’t want to be under the thumb of anyone.) I wanted to move away to college so that I could eat whatever I wanted, go to bed whenever I chose, and act however I saw fit. I was going to cuss like a sailor, get tattoos all over my body, sleep with whomever I felt like… Life as a grown up was going to be unimaginably wonderful.

And then it came.

There are nights that I am walking silently through the city that I now call home. Perhaps I’m thinking of the bills that I am now responsible for, the relationship that am a part of, or the job that both I depend on and depends on me. As I wind through the sidewalks that are such a convenient part of my home, on a perfect night that is rare in a city that oscillates between the bitter cold and hated humidity, I am struck by a familiar smell. It is the cool smell of grass. It smells like the end of the day, like a silent peacefulness that can only happen when both heaven and earth, nature and man, decide it is time to slide calmly into the night.

When I smell that familiar smell I am consumed by such great sadness that my body begins to ache. I inhale and I am taken back to the summers I spent at camp. I am so young, so happy, and so wishful. I see my young self, and though I know she wants desperately to be who I am now, I cannot help but look at her with a heart of sadness. I want to tell her to keep laughing, keep running, and keep loving. I want her to stop wishing for the new school year, hoping for a reinvention. I want to tell her that eventually boys will like her, and some of the awkwardness will go away. I want to promise her that her best friend will always love her. I want to tell her the stories that take away the anxiety and fear.

There so many things I want to tell that girl in my memory. I want her to know the truth about growing up. I want her to know that it is wonderful, but not worth wishing for. It comes without wishing and hoping, rushing or wanting. It comes all on its own. And when it does she will be walking down a twisted sidewalk, in a city that she now calls home, wishing that for just a moment she could be there again.

I smell that smell and I cannot help but be sad because I know we move in only one direction. Endlessly forward.

gaiam better than you

(I needed a photo for this post but I didn’t have anything good. I attempted to take one, but as you can see it’s no simple task to press the button and get into an arm balance in three seconds…)

I’ve spent the last few months in thought. Not always particularly deep thought. I’ve just been thinking. I’m not entirely sure of what… Last year-though a wonderful year for the most part– suddenly felt as if it were bearing down on me so hard that I didn’t know which way was up. It wasn’t anxiety or stress. I wasn’t acutely depressed. It was worse… I was nothing.

In September, after preparing wholeheartedly for months, BBF-H and I ran the AppleFest Half Marathon in Hollis, NH. What I expected was some very hard work that would culminate in a very tiring run, immediately tailed by the euphoria of accomplishment and success. Unfortunately what I got was a boatload of frustration and disappointment. The run was painful, the course brutal, my attitude poor… in the mile leading up the finish I contemplated quitting. I had a legitimate moment of complete self doubt. Worse was the realization that was willing to give up. I was one mile from the biggest achievement (save marrying the hubs and having thusly kept myself alive) of my adult life and had a pedicab whizzed by me I would have thrown my body on it.

In the weeks following the race I was in the most fubar’d head space of my mid-to-late twenties. (Just had a big birthday, you know.) What did it say about me that I was willing to quit? What did it it say about me that I trained for months and was still unprepared? We were pacing beautifully, clipping along at about a 8.5 minute mile. Birds were actually chirping. The day could not have been more beautiful. Yet I felt I was getting raped by a sweaty gorilla while lemurs provided some dead weight around my ankles. (Not to mention the elephant that was doing a tap dance on my chest/lungs.) At one moment I actual cried out, “where the FUCK is the 9th mile marker? Is this a joke?”

It sounds so silly. The completion of my first half marathon spiraled me into a deep and dark depression. It is silly. Essentially a long Saturday jog brought back an eating disorder that had been at bay for years. A scenic foot tour of the New Hampshire orchards made me want to quit my job, crawl in a hole watch Criminal Minds forever.

I stopped blogging. I stopped caring. And then I got me some Zoloft.

The Zoloft didn’t change my life, but it did give me a little objectivity. Instead of being that voice, I could hear the voice. I could hear it talking to me. But rather than listen to it, to believe it, I started wondering why it sounded so… crazy. Bat shit crazy. Beyond that, it sounded downright mean. It said some nasty shit to me. I was offended, hurt, and a little pissed. Why did this voice live in me? What did I do to piss it off? I needed to exorcise it, but I didn’t know where to start.

Silly, silly girl.

Yoga. I finally went back to yoga. I got back on the mat. (For those of you who saw the terrible but awesome movie Center Stage–you can admit it, I own it– it’s not unlike the scene where Jodie is told to find herself at the barre.) I don’t know why yoga and I broke up. Running had taken over. I got bulky in all the running places and yoga no longer held the fluidity and movement that I was addicted to. I was also doing the wrong kind of yoga. I was taking classes that encouraged the my competitive self, the one I worked hard to leave in high school.

I found Marc again. I fell in love with his class all over again. More over I fell in love with sweating, laughing, and enjoying myself. My loving self remembered that I shouldn’t ever get on an Elliptical if I didn’t want to. (I hate them more than any human being I have ever encountered in my whole life.) I don’t pop up like a daisy at 5:45 when the alarm goes off, but bet your ass once I’m there I do what I want. That includes taking my ass back home if it’s just not happening.

Eventually I figured out that I didn’t need to be on suicide watch and could trust myself around the various sharp and pointies around the apartment. Liberating, really.

Then, about two weeks ago, I ventured to Back Bay Yoga near my apartment. I’m not entirely convinced this place isn’t chock full of crazies, but there is something about my personality that gravitates towards all things cult-scented. There is a certain weirdo vibe that I don’t quite understand, especially given it’s location. Not a lot of lululemon, quite a few sick practitioners, and some teachers who chant Hare Krishna ditties during shavasana. Okay…

I leave my “main mat” at Marc’s studio near my office. (That would be Om Warrior at 133 Pearl Street.) I practice there most often, so it makes sense that I shouldn’t have to lug my mat all over town. I keep a spare mat at the house for my home practice, as well as the occasional class at a studio that will charge me to use a mat. (Which reminds me to mention how weird I think that is. Not unlike a gym charging you to use the weights…) It’s not nearly as nice as my regular mat, but it works great and my hands don’t slide– pretty much my only mat criteria.

So there I am setting up my space before a Saturday class and this woman comes in dressed in head to toe tie dyed yoga wear. Those of you familiar with the yoga wear scene know what I’m talking about. This yoga wear is reserved for those who’ve legally changed his/her name to Wind or Essence, eat Bulgar wheat, and nurse the children of the commune until they graduate from middle school. It generally denotes someone who actually LIVES a yogic lifestyle… all the way to the left. Rarely if ever will you see a suburban mommy in that stuff. You’ve got a lot to prove if you’re willing to put the TD stuff on.

She has her mat, some sort of scarf made by villagers tied to her head, and a water bottle of some kind… probably a SIGG. After putting her mat down she begins some rather intense stretching, the kind that leads you to belief she’s marking her territory. (I prefer to lie in supta baddha konsanana and lightly nap til it’s time to get started…) I am lining my mat up with the boards on the floor like a crazy person when I realize she is looking at me. I assume she is judging my insanely anal behavior, so I turned and make an adorable remark about being a nut. No, no, she tells me, that’s not it at all. She’s just interested that I’m using a Gaiam mat. Am I new to yoga?

I realize I’ve just been measured and judge. In yoga. By my mat.

Laugh, laugh, laugh. No, I tell her. Not my first time. She proceeds to tell me that when I’m ready to push my practice I should consider buying a Jade mat. (Incidentally the same mat that is sitting in the changing room of Om Warrior.)

Super, thanks, lady.

Yoga is not competitive. It’s about you. It’s about what you bring to yourself. But there was a moment in handstand when I looked between my arms to find my friend in child’s pose that I did think to myself, “Gaiam, shmiam.”

Gaiam better than you…