I wake up in a hotel room, with no idea where I am, confident I have slept through something important.
I quickly sort myself out; realise I have missed nothing. All I have done is live a Magical Tuesday, which wound up disappearing then reappearing when I worked through most of Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.
At one point during my Magical Tuesday, I messaged a friend saying: Am holding consecutive minute-long planks/sideplanks trying to get through these conference calls.
(I don’t think he was aware that I was documenting the whole plank thing. Relatedly, do you have any idea how difficult it is to photograph yourself holding a plank — even a side-plank? I didn’t until last night/early this morning, and my form suffered as a result.)
I check my Wednesday morning messages: My lunch for one day has been moved to a dinner, and my morning meetings have been moved to the afternoon. So naturally I find a yoga class, where the Ashtanga primary series is being led. I take this as a sign — because I take everything as A Sign. It is a very bullshitty, Be Here Now kind of moment.
So here I am. Now.
Then I slip off my trainers and pad barefoot into the room, where a clutch of Lululemon’d Ladies Who Lunch are speaking Chinese [dialect undefined] in the corner. They fall silent and side-eye me upon my arrival.
I look gross, and I know it. I am wearing a decade-old pair of running shorts; a Royal Parks Foundation hoodie. My hair is full of coconut oil and airplane grime. It is Wednesday, and I believe my last shower was on Monday. I have forgotten when I last washed my hair.
This isn’t a beginner class…the instructor says kindly, as if to warn me off in the event I am in fact a beginner; if I am the sort to whom yoga sounded like a good idea at the time.
I know, I say. And she seems startled by my American accent. It takes me a moment before I realise that it is probably because of my sweatshirt — probably because there aren’t a lot of a Americans stumbling sleepily around Hong Kong, sporting raggedy Royal Parks Foundation hoodies and a wild, blonde mane slicked down with organic coconut oil and the detritus of CX831.
Then again, what do I know? In recent weeks, I have come to understand just how little I know about anything.
We make it through most of the primary series, and we are finally on to back-bends.
The instructor, who has been watching me and adjusting me throughout the class, calls bullshit on my reluctance to go into a full wheel. But I am squirrelly since my shoulder injury two years ago. I am precious.
Just pull yourself up into a full wheel, she barks.
I comply. Because I have been refusing to rise.
It is the first series of wheels I have completed in two years. Urdhva Dhanurasana. Beneficial for the nerves; beneficial for the lungs. The more literal translation from Sanskrit to describe the posture would be “bow with arrow poised in the air on the verge of being released.” It is a posture with many facets — it is an alchemical pose.
I have changed. I am changing. See the changes.
The word “change” becomes a meditation; catches in my throat. When Frederic was sick, I used to play Crosby, Stills & Nash’s See the Changes on repeat.
…And it gets harder as you get older,
Farther away as you get closer.
And I don’t know the answer.
Does it even matter?
I’m wonderin’ how…
The truth is, five years ago this month, I had run off to China to try to stop thinking about Frederic. I thought that I would save myself and my marriage if I did a Geographic. Instead, I wound up in a Hong Kong hotel room, realising that I didn’t want to be married to the man who had become a stranger to me. It would take me another year before I left.
See the changes.
Last night, as I held my planks and my side-planks and I intermittently took the phone off mute to speak my lines, a message came through, with the party on the other end confessing what I’d known all along: that the meaning and love and significance I’d begged to have acknowledged for five years had actually existed.
I existed. I exist.
The funny thing was: It changed everything and didn’t change anything at all.
The truth always comes in fits and starts. The truth is alchemical.
See the changes.