I just did the unheard of…I went to a level 2/3 yoga class at Yoga Works, the good old fashioned hot and sweaty kind, something I have rarely done since I got pregnant more than two years ago and started doing wimpy, pre-natal yoga and never really had the guts to go back. It was amazing. Felt so good to challenge my body, even when it meant wimping out on poses that used to come easy to me. The teacher was this lovely bald-headed man with a booming laugh who sang beautifully along to Depeche Mode, Dido and George Harrison.
At one point, during “Handle with Care,” he walked through the room and, standing right next to my pink mat, asked, “Is this JOY I am feeling?”
I almost wept.
I don’t know what it was. Maybe I’m premenstrual. Maybe I was experiencing the joy he referred to, just by stretching muscles and releasing tension in ways I need desperately to. Maybe it’s been a while since I’ve tapped into real joy, or at least real joy unrelated to contact with my son, the truest, purest source of joy I’ve ever known. But joy of my own creation?
I’m really scared of the next chapter in my life. Rationally, I know it will be okay, I know that as long as I’m with Harlan and Aidan, I will be fine. But I am terrified of leaving what I know for something entirely new.
My friend Carolynn said to me the other day that when she left our going away party, she sobbed in the car. And she was trying to figure out why it was so much sadder than when other friends have moved away. And she realized that it was because we had settled down here: We’d fixed up our house and had a child. We were supposed to stay. My family’s here. My old friends, my real friends are here. My temperament and tolerance for weather are 100% California. And I’m leaving for a place I don’t know at all.
Over the last few weeks, everything has become poignant to me. I soar down the California incline drinking in an aluminum foil ocean with sizzling patches of late-afternoon sun that seem to me proof of the existence of God. That’s how breathtaking. And I wonder, Is there anything that beautiful in Boston?
My friend Mae did a tarot card reading for me yesterday. The Me card was despair. The card for how other people see me was the hermit, a man retreating into himself. My past was like a love affair, she said, full of the joy of discovery, of creating a home, loving my husband, marveling at each moment with my son. The present was about the slog, tasks, anxieties, just getting by. And the future was more of the same: financial worries, sadness, overwhelming concerns, possibly someone who wants to cheat me, as if all that other stuff wasn’t enough.
I don’t always believe everything I hear in a reading, but something about this rings true, doesn’t it? Can I turn it around? Am I focusing on the bad now rather than embracing all the possibility? Today at the end of this wonderful yoga class, as I lay in shivasana, I couldn’t wipe from my mind an image from the movie I watched last night, a Holocaust film called The Counterfeiters, in which this beautiful young Russian boy is shot in the head. It was a devastating moment—and why was I stuck on it when I should have been spacing blissfully out?
My friend Caitlin wrote a beautiful blog entry I just read today about joy—and about moving cross-country and starting over. She and her husband and baby did the opposite of what we’re doing, but for similar reasons. They threw in the towel in LA and went back home to Maine and all its comforts. They’re having just as hard a time as we anticipate. And they’re also learning to appreciate all that their new chapter offers them. Her blog entry also made me super teary. Maybe it is PMS? No, her beautiful writing always brings tears to my eyes.
It helps to take stock of what brings the joy. One of my first tasks in Cambridge will be to find a yoga class. Another will be to find a screenwriting class. Tap into the joys that sustain me regardless of where I am and who is there with me. According to Caitlin, I should spend more time dancing spontaneously around the living room with my homeboys. That’s certainly something I can do in Boston, too.