From being the young girl who always slept with socks on and with an extra blanket, and always needed a sweater, even in the summer…
to the woman who now sleeps with an icepack by her side, at the ready,
for when the next surge of flames washes over her in the night,
drenching her in salty sweat,
cats fleeing her heat,
husband creating a dam of pillows between them
to escape the fire…
of the hot flash.
I remember turning 30,
and feeling free to finally wear red lipstick,
which before had somehow looked too garish
with this blonde hair and pale skin and
eyelashes too light to see without mascara….
And to have also breathed a sigh of relief
for escaping the schizophrenia that runs in these genes,
but which normally manifests itself by that age.
And, who knew…. that the pain of watching
a parent die a slow death from esophageal cancer
would ever effect me?
Or that the iconic teachers,
who were like the grandparents of my generation of yogis —
Desikachar, Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois,
and Indra Devi,
would all, one by one, succumb to time,
and some to scandal?
And that the next generation would
start to falter?
Who knew that these hips,
which once allowed me to throw a leg behind my head
and jump all around,
would someday feel the pain of arthritis
and tell me not to do that anymore?
Or that I would listen?
How did I transition from being the young teacher,
looking to my elders,
to being the mentor myself?
I often wonder what they think I know?
For it is nothing so special,
nothing more than the accrual of the wisdom
that comes with time and experience.
But I have lived it.
And, in this transitional time, my hair is still naturally blonde,
But wrinkles, rivers of experiences, are spreading around my eyes,
windows to the world which have seen tears of laughter, crushing love and perfect pain.
And I wouldn’t trade the wrinkles for those moments in a heartbeat.
I remember my grandma’s skin,
during those long humid summers at the lake in Minnesota,
when we played at being trolls under the dock,
amidst the sand that my grandpa had brought in to make a beach,
and the seaweed that kept creeping back to the shore.
Her skin looked and felt soft,
not taught and firm like a young girl’s anymore,
And she smelled like rose petals,
from the Avon products she used to sell.
I am starting to recognize that skin now,
on my own body, when I look in the mirror.
And, when I hold my grandson, Elliot, tight,
I hope I feel soft to him too.
I haven’t bridged that river of “the change” yet.
But, change is inevitable.
I am, maybe, about half-way through this cycle of existence,
or maybe more —who knows?
Time is elusive.
And the moments are fleeting, always, from birth to death,
And should be savored….
Moments like when my kitten, Raja, lay upon my chest,
dying, despite the intensity of my hope,
and he pressed his wet nose
And, even though he is not here anymore,
he did live. And we gave each other great joy, and haunting heart break.
And I relish the touch of my lover’s hand,
as he traces his finger over the nape of my neck,
a touch so familiar now after all of these years…
and so much more capable now than ever to incite
the rush of desire in me, leaving me trembling.
However, these days, it is often the clever conversations —
discussing whether the bridge between
the quantum world and the Newtonian world
is a bridge between realities
that is the best foreplay.
How can this be that particles are so elusive
that in one world they are fleeting,
and in another they are solidly placed?
Perhaps we are like that too.
When we were young, yet to be manifested,
and no one was watching yet…
the possibilities seemed endless.
But, now those moments have manifested
and been lived, and now live in memories….
But, I also know that there is another whole half of life
waiting to be lived,
possibilities I have yet to even imagine,
and probabilities uncertain….
And, I like that uncertainty…
that inability to pin down a time or place
that life is going.
And, I can handle the hot flashes, maybe even embrace them
for what they represent…a stage in life,
a transition from the certainty of the past to the
fire of the unknown, waiting for me…
because I know that these transitions
are the things of life,
the phases that launch us to the next level of learning.
They are what it means to be alive.
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