Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New York anniversary, year 3.

Over the long weekend, we caught up with a friend of ours who is wrestling with a decision to take a dream job in another city. Seriously, this is a Dream Job/Career Maker, and the potential city is, from what I've heard, a very nice place to live (details withheld to protect a lovely person who didn't ask for his/her life to be publicized here). Seems like a no-brainer, but said person is not entirely sure he/she is ready to leave New York.

Of course, I was all, pfft, dream job! You can come back! Live while you're young! and so forth, but I think that the idea of an unbreakable tie to the city is something that, despite all my talk of Colorado dreams, I'm finally starting to get.


Today marks three years since I first set foot in Manhattan without a return ticket. Three years! And as I start to round the corner towards my twenty-eighth birthday (no-longer-a-spring-chicken-hood looming ever closer), it grows increasingly obvious that the most significant relationship of my twenties is this one, the one between myself and the city. My partnership with this pulsating, roiling, vibrantly enthusiastic, stubborn, sullen and always richly incredible place. 'Place' doesn't seem like a quite substantial enough word, but I suppose she can be found on a map, and 'state of mind' seemed to err on the side of perhaps a bit poetic, which didn't seem right here. I'm officially putting a fork in it, calling her my most main of squeezes (sorry darling) mostly because of the unparalleled part she's played in helping me to foster and cultivate my relationship with myself.

Actually, I should probably be my real main squeeze. So she's like, number 2 (again, sorry honey).

A quick side note that seems worth mentioning: I'm going to continue to bless her with that holiest of pronouns ("she"), in agreement with the hordes of songwriters, authors, screenwriters, poets and otherwise artists who have labeled her as such over the years. The energy of the city, while sometimes dark and violent, does feel uniquely (and sometimes divinely) feminine to me. I see in her Shakti, Diana, Gaia, Aphrodite. Creator and destroyer, pursuer and seductress, muse to many and unmistakably motherly - she is She, a modern-day and ever-morphing goddess; she is all that is love.

Looking back on my first anniversary post, it is painfully obvious that I was too young to understand, that I was so scared to commit. That I was frustrated with her for not eagerly reaching out to me as I arrived on her shores. Even my eventual understanding was shallow (although throw a couple more years at it and I'm sure this will look puny as well, but here we are). It wasn't about whether she had the time; I needed her validation to be able to grow and she was unwilling to give it to me. I hated her for keeping it from me, something Chicago had so easily given.

But she needed to know that I was serious about her, that I was serious about me. She needed to know that I would, at some point, be able to let go of my attachment and be that validation for myself.

And I have.

So now I've relaxed, she's opened up, and we've settled into something comfortable, something familiar. I see her, through the dirt and chaos and frustration and hate and hurt and all that's been dumped on her over the years. I see the pure electric love throbbing at her core, pumping through the streets and tunnels and rivers as she cradles these millions of people in her arms. She's more mature than I gave her credit for, quietly and non-judgmentally allowing her masses to walk all over her and blame her and use her as a stepping stone to becoming what they want to be. Day after day after day she takes beating after beating after beating, and she thrives and blooms and flourishes around her scars, shining so through all the ashes.

And somewhere in the midst of all of that, she sees me and returns the favor.

For every crowded subway ride through Manhattan, she trades me a moment of cobble-laden silence on a Brooklyn evening. And for each gray and dreary morning, a lunchtime seat warmed by sunlight in Meatpacking plaza. One terrifying hurricane in exchange for crisp afternoons spent with old and new friends at the tiniest and best dive bar garden in Red Hook, which I'm so thankful can continue to thrive. We go on like that, me being patient with her as she fusses and fumes, her rewarding me for my time with shy and stolen moments that she's taught me to seek, that I've learned to find. The more time I give, the more she helps me to see.

And it's me, along with the city, that comes into ever-clearer focus.

So tonight I raise a glass to you, sweet city, in honor of our three years together. I've said it before, but it still rings true - in exchange for my residency, I will continue to try, to take it in, to expand, to arrive. And I will know for certain that I am always enough.

And I will never again be alone, not here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Almost time for brunch.

So now we're up to May, I've turned into an unrecognizable yoga monster and there are only three weekends left in my training schedule. Three! Because this weekend we have off for Memorial Day and then it's just three more weekends until June 16. That's like, ten minutes, not even, in the overall scheme of things. I seriously cannot believe it, not for one minute. I remember feeling so apprehensive about the thing, knowing for SURE I was going to get bored with it (14 weekends? March - June? are you kidding me?) long before our graduation weekend.

And now

and I am so scared for it to be over.

Because... well, because I don't want to go back to my life before and I'm afraid that without the training, I won't know how to hold on to this. Like maybe it's all been just a really lovely dream and if so, I'm afraid to wake up. I don't even entirely understand what THIS is, and how one might be able to hold onto it. And of course it's all beside the point, since the whole purpose is to live in the moment and I'm not doing that at all. I'm so worried about being able to find this again that I'm not even able to see that I AM here right now, at this very second.

But, I'm still worrying, because I feel like a different person now; I feel so, so different. I look and sound different and I don't know what to do with it. I'm practicing my sanskrit and telling jokes about chaturanga and doodling the ashtanga primary series on the side of my notebook and getting up early to practice and staying out late to practice and reading all kinds of books with funny names full of funny pictures and trying to think what, exactly, would be the best way to explain someone up into a chin-stand and wondering when I can try to get back to Friday meditations at Integral and humming that chant from that one seriously amazing kirtan under my breath. And nobody on the train is trying to pick me up by asking what I'm reading anymore (I'm talking to you, guy-who-so-brazenly-asked-me-about 50 Shades of Grey). And I am carrying my mat with me everywhere, secretly imagining it to be protecting me and my special soul, a neon floral-print quiver for my karmic arrows. I'm thinking about buying a second mat. And maybe some blocks. And a strap? And every morning and every night I do a headstand and say a fervent prayer of gratitude to my teachers, to the Self and to my own self in an attempt to open up my ribcage and let the light in, to reach and pull and beg and plead and gasp and choke and shake and weep and finally fill my gaping, dusty, frozen chest cavity with pure raw unfiltered love.

And my closest friends are kind of looking at me a bit wide-eyed and hesitant because I am acting like a maniac, and I can't stop smiling.

I can't stop shaking.

I'm so unbelievably happy, so comfortable in this skin. Now that I've finally wriggled it on, it's so overwhelmingly familiar. Despite the fact that my body feels different. My mind feels different, easier. My whole heart feels different, bigger.

Not always easier, in that territory. But definitely bigger, definitely better.

There's a yogic philosophy that states that a person will practice yoga because they did so in a previous birth, and as such will always feel inexplicably drawn towards the practice until he or she gets him or herself to the mat. I am still sorting out how I feel about philosophy and births and all that malarkey, but damned if I did not feel so inexplicably drawn to this practice. I felt it years ago when I first picked up Eat Pray Love and started a three-year relationship with a story, reading it over and over and over again, not yet understanding why I felt so connected, why I was reading and re-reading as though my knowledge of the text might someday cure my own cancer. Why I felt as though I had written it myself, about me, from the future. I said it to Christy when I realized that I had signed up for a yoga retreat without a buddy - not really something I do on the regular (or would ever do in a million years). I said it aloud, when introducing myself to the group on the first day of training. I said, "I honestly don't know why I'm here."

But there I was, and despite whatever it is I may think about being the master of my own destiny, I truly believe that I was always going to get there.

For real. That's the sort of thing I am into these days. Not even joking.

When I first wrote about teacher training, my awesome web-friend Anna Edwards commented that she thought it was cool that I was doing the training - that she didn't know normal people did that. And I was all like, lolsies I know right? Because I am totally normal and I'm going to go learn to be a fitness instructor now, let's get brunch in June, at which point I will be exactly the same + a six pack and some sweet arm muscles.

Dear Anna Edwards, I am sorry to disappoint you, but I will never again be able to put my hands on the ground without thinking about planting, plugging, spreading through the fingerbeds and drawing up through long arm-bones the energy bursting forth from the earth. Even in New York, where everything is filthy and nobody should be touching the ground ever, this is what I'm thinking.

Not even the slightest bit normal. Also, not sanitary. But that's life, fucking incredible beautiful breath-taking breath-giving life.

It's MY life, and I'm so relieved that it's finally here.

(I still really want us to go to brunch, though. Please call me.)