Is that the New York City Marathon coming towards us?
Yes. I think so, I replied.
As I am driving to yoga this morning I recall an unforgettable 24 hours in New York City with my Uncle David. I know this is coming up because I was feeling exactly like I felt the morning we were staring down the New York City marathon in 1993. It was for different reasons, but the physical exhaustion that comes from extreme sleep deprivation was exactly the same.
I went to bed last night at 2:00am. I woke up at 6:00am to go to yoga.
I am doing early morning yoga this week with Ellen and drinking 20 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day. It’s a reset for my digestive system after abusing it throughout the holidays. I did this Zen Cleanse last June and I felt really great afterwards. The juices are amazingly good. I am hoping it will help put my body and my mind in an even better place for this cycle.
The healthier I feel, the more energy I have — the more likely I will be open and ready to receive whatever is around the corner.
After coming home from the retreat, writing Day 42 had taken a lot out of me because it was so unexpected, such a surprise. I said I want to be surprised; someone must be listening.
I hit the mat at 6:30am. This is not the time I usually do yoga. This is not the time I usually do anything. I felt almost sick from lack of sleep, but I unrolled the mat and got on it.
If these pictures are any indication, my uncle has been making me laugh practically since the day I was born. I even laugh exactly like him when I laugh really hard. He was in Hawaii with Gran Gran and Memom–and a few months shy of 12-years old–when I was born. He is 11 years younger than my father. Our relationship has always been a close one.
I still remember when he and my Aunt Peggy brought me a white Snoopy watch for my 6th birthday. I wish I could go back to my 6-year old self and say, Hey kid, don’t lose that watch. You’re going to remember it for the rest of your life.
I adored my aunts (Annie and Aunt Paula), but I think we all have that one aunt or uncle we connect with at an early age for various reasons.
The one that is not our parents, but like our parents. The one we can open up to just a little bit earlier. The one that let’s you have just a little more fun. The one that makes you laugh at everything.
Uncle David was that one for me.
When we pushed back into the first downward facing dog I was stiff. Did I tell you I do not do anything at this hour? I momentarily think, Can I just sit in child’s pose for an hour and sleep?
My mind was not wandering too much as I moved through the poses, but rather, trying to focus on the moment. Trying not to get lost in all the memories that are flooding my brain from all the pictures and the breathing and the poses.
It feels as if my entire life is swirling around me as I hold warrior one. I push through it and move into standing forward fold with my legs in a V-position. My mind starts to calm as Ellen leads us through intense hip stretches; the swirling stops. I stare at my feet and think, Good grief, when are you going to get a pedicure?
We go down to the mat in pigeon pose and I am grateful. Grateful to have the support of the earth to hold me up. Grateful to be resting my head and letting go more in my hips after the standing work.
Let’s go down to the South Street Seaport, I said.
I had not lived in New York City long enough to know anything about where to take my uncle. I thought it would be a good place to see the water and eat dinner. It was November. It was cold and raining. We could see no water and ate no dinner.
Nothing was open except this club playing all Latin music. We were both in sweatshirts and jeans. To say we looked like we were lost tourists is an understatement.
Where are you guys from? She asks as she puts down two Coors Light.
I’m sure this was already obvious to her before she asked the question, but we were oblivious. We arrived around eight o’clock and we closed the place. We drank a case of Coors Light–at least–our bill came to $40.
I think she had a crush on my uncle. He always had that affect on women.
We move to the other side for pigeon pose. I start laughing. I laugh every time I think about The Bear Bar.
When you finish your beer you just throw it?
Yeah! — a random bar patron says as he tosses his beer bottle against the wall and it breaks apart. The floor of the restaurant is covered in broken glass.
Since the bill was so cheap, we left our bartender at the Latin club a really good tip. She took us under her wing and we tagged along to an after hours bar on the upper west side called The Bear Bar. We ended the evening at the diner next door. I remember it as the best omelet I ever ate.
The Bear Bar was one of the most memorable moments. Could you possibly get away with drinking a bottle of beer, throwing the bottle at the wall and watching it shatter while an entire bar of drunks cheer you on at 3:30am? Well, yes. It was ridiculous. We loved it.
I am lying in shavasana filled with joy that the practice was over today. I was tired beyond measure, but glad I had showed up. Sometimes showing up is the best you can do that day. Just show up. I showed up.
As we left the diner we were walking back to my apartment and coming towards us was the New York City marathon. Runners were everywhere. It was lightly raining and the sun was beginning to peek through the clouds; shining on the buildings over Central Park. I was green. My uncle could have gone another five hours, or possibly another day. I was glad I had stuck it through until dawn.
I went all in for a crazy evening; I showed up and had great time and a great memory with the guy who has been making me laugh since 1970.
After sleeping not nearly long enough, Uncle David had to get to Penn Station. Before he left, we wanted to see the church where Memom and Gran Gran got married in 1944 — ‘The Little Church Around the Corner’. Despite the fact that I was still green from all the alcohol and shaking from lack of sleep, I got up and continued our adventure.
All I knew at the time was it was at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 29th Street. We get to the intersection and see a church. We walk in, we take pictures, we smile, we wave — we are excited to be in the church where Memom and Gran Gran got married! Yay!
As we are walking out my uncle starts talking to someone who works there. He tells him how his parents were married in the church when it was called The Little Church Around the Corner during WWII. The guy looks at him and laughs.
This isn’t ‘The Little Church Around the Corner’.
Well, where is it?
It’s around the corner!
We had literally no time at that point, but we did run around the corner and take a quick peek.
As for me, I spent many a rainy afternoons during my time living in New York City in ‘The Little Church Around the Corner’ reading, and praying. Yes, often I was praying.
Sometimes things are just around the corner.