Did I happen to mention that my back went out as I was shutting the door to the yoga studio, where I had just finished a round of increasingly deeper backbends, the kind where your goal is for your hands to grab your ankles? No, I didn’t mention that, did I, because I’m covering up for Yoga. Yoga didn’t mean to do it. Yoga and I have a codependent relationship. When Yoga comes home drunk and smacks me around I take off Yoga’s shoes and get a blanket and let Yoga sleep it off, and in the morning there are no recriminations, only coffee and something sweet to take the edge off, and we pretend that nothing happened. And see, I’m fine now! Oh, there’s a little soreness, and I won’t be doing any backbends for another week or so, but that’s okay, it’s not an injury, it’s an opening, an opportunity to explore my body’s limits, as well as the drug store’s selection anti-inflammatories and bath salts. Yes, I love Yoga and Yoga loves me, and I deserve whatever Yoga does to me because Yoga needs to teach me a lesson. And now I’m going to lie down quietly on a heating pad and let that lesson sink in.
I hurt my back on Sunday and, until I found some 800 mg fake Motrin pills this morning, was hobbling around like the old woman who lived in a shoe, if the old woman who lived in a shoe only had one child but that child was very heavy and insisted on being picked up all the time. It was stupid, all I did was pull a door closed. But it’s almost never what you do, it’s that your back was just waiting for an excuse. Ironically, I had just mailed a book to my father, whose back also just went out, called Healing Back Pain. The author believes that many people with back pain don’t have anything physically wrong with them, and that back pain is the mind’s way of diverting attention from the real (mental, emotional) problem. I can tell you that the other three times I have been knocked out with back pain have accompanied (1) a change in job and a moving-in with a boyfriend, (2) a father-in-law-to-be dying of cancer, and (3) going to Mexico on vacation when I didn’t want to go because I don’t really like going to Mexico. So, of what am I in fearful denial right now? Root canal? Being pressured by in-laws to have another baby when I don’t think I ever want to give birth again, despite the fact that it went fine that one time I did it? Still being mad about losing my job, though I should be over it by now, especially since I just qualified for extended unemployment benefits? All of the above, plus the whole apartment still smells like onions from Jack’s Jacques Pepin moment in the kitchen last night and I am still not quite up to hauling out the garbage. And who suffers? The children.
Funniest thing that happened this weekend: Jackson sneezing with a mouthful of cottage cheese.
Second funniest thing: Taking Jackson to the Santa Barbara Kennel Club Dog Show at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. (Yes, that Earl Warren, the one who headed the commission that determined that a lone gunman with a magically ricocheting bullet killed JFK. But that’s not the funny part.) Dogs running around in the ring and being judged wasn’t that interesting to Jackson, it was too far away, even though there were big, highly visible Irish wolfhounds. But outside on the grounds where people were grooming their dogs and just hanging out we ran into a couple with two English bulldogs, Clyde and Spot. Clyde was the most perfect little gentleman bulldog I’ve ever met, no drool, no attitude, just sixty pounds of pure love, but he had that classic need to bury his nose in someone’s crotch, and the crotch he picked was Jackson’s three-hour-old-diaper crotch. I’ve never seen a look of such pure confusion on a child’s face, but I’m sure he’ll get that all straightened out by the time puberty rolls around.
We also took Jackson to the basketball court to show him how it’s done. Yes, mommy can still make a nice right-handed layup, even when doubled over in pain, but daddy can’t dunk for shit anymore, at least not without hurting himself. And check out the silver Nike baby sneaks! Dad’s got on some nifty blue Puma Californias, I see. We *heart* outlet shopping and wearing last year’s rejected fashion, because it still looks good on us.
Normally, doing yoga is one of those things that just makes life better for me. Mood better, muscles better, sleep better, food tastes fantastic, I can hear colors . . . no wait, that was that weekend in high school when we smoked twenty-six joints. Aaanyway, yesterday I was doing my yoga thing, and I was in a hurry because I had to get back home to pay off the babysitter (no, I am NOT one of those lazy, bloodsucking moms who spend all day shopping and going to the gym, so BE QUIET). Toward the end of my yoga routine, I was doing urdhva padmasana*, but I wasn’t thinking too much about it, the mind was wandering, perhaps I was staring at my navel and referencing my pregnant neighbor who sashays around in a bikini with her belly button popped out. But no, it’s not a good idea to let your mind wander when you’re balancing on your shoulders and you’re sweaty and weak and your legs are tied up in a knot. So I lost my balance for a millisecond and, to keep from being brained by my own shinbones and to prevent my spine from popping out through my back, I quickly had to call upon some muscles unfamiliar with the task of keeping me upright while upside down. Hence I woke up this morning and couldn’t move my neck. Which is fun. It’s fun to do some potentially crippling yoga pose for three and a half years without damaging yourself, and then to wake up one morning and wonder if there’s enough Ben Gay in the world.
* This means balancing on your shoulders with your chin smushed into your collarbones, with your legs in lotus, i.e., crossed with each foot on the opposite thigh, and your hands on your knees. This picture isn’t quite what I was doing, but it’s pretty impressive, huh? Impressive or just wrong, your choice.
Screw yoga — THIS is what I’m going to do next.
About three years ago I was walking up State Street when I ran into my friend Steve. He was just back from India where he’d been studying ashtanga yoga; his wife had left him; and now he was getting up at 3:45 every morning, riding his bike to the yoga center to do his practice, and then teaching students until 8:30 (the point at which I normally rolled out of bed in those carefree pre-motherhood times). Before we parted Steve said that in India he was often invited to do things by the phrase, “You come.” And thusly he invited me to his yoga class, though it was about six months before I took him up on it. But once I did, let me tell you, ashtanga yoga totally kicked my ass.
So this morning I got up at 5:30, nursed the baby before he had any idea what was going on, put him back in his crib where he passed out again, and went to Steve’s yoga class, which he now teaches with his partner, Michele. I haven’t practiced much since the baby came, and about a third of the way through I thought I was going to faint. I curled up on my mat for a few minutes and thought about crying. But something realigned itself and I got back up and kept going. When I got home Jack was waiting on the sidewalk, talking on the cell phone, holding Jackson (still in pajamas). I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m always slightly relieved that Jack has managed to keep the baby alive while I’m gone.