One week to go after today. Seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago when I came home from yoga and started 60 Days On the Mat. Life is a lot like that … things always seem like yesterday and forever ago. The older I get, the more everything seems like yesterday and feels like forever.
The Girl Who Likes Chicken n’ Dumplings has 14 follicles growing; all relatively the same size. This is good news, I am told. My doctor seems pleased and I trust him. He’s a yogi, how could I not? I have heard of younger women growing 25+ follicles, but from what I understand a lot of those eggs end up immature and never become viable embryos — so to have 14 good follicles growing at basically the same rate; I’m happy. There should be some strong eggs in there given her age.
I went to the mat at 4:00 with Ellen. The day had been one non-stop appointment after another. No time to really breathe. When I finally got to the mat, I spent the opening in child’s pose — breathing deeply. It’s amazing to me how much we forget to breathe as we go through the day. Obviously, we’re breathing — but to breathe in such a way that you can feel the oxygen flowing through the body; we do not do this enough. At least I don’t.
My shoulder pain starts class on the right side and ends class on the left side. Now I know it’s psychosomatic. It has to be. Ellen starts with an inner thigh series that about kills me. I have hyper-extended knees and this genetic defect has always made my upper thighs weak. It is difficult for me to make the connection between the legs and the abdomen — but when I do it, my yoga practice is always stronger. I distribute my weight so it is not all riding in my shoulders. Maybe that is why my pain moves from shoulder to shoulder? I contemplate this thought while trying to hold warrior three; balancing on one leg.
Before class I went for sushi with my friend, Gwyn. She is the mother of Scarlett — if you have been reading, Scarlett is the one who said she wanted Santa to “surprise me” — I now wake-up every day asking to be surprised all thanks to Scarlett. Generally I am; lately in a good way. Scarlett has no idea what she has done for this 43-year old woman with her completely innocent — out of the mouths of babes — comment.
By the way, if you have not been reading regularly, I do not take this personally. Quite frankly, even I am starting to feel like this is the world’s longest chick-flick — being doled out in 1000+ word increments over 60 days.
Gwyn and I met in 1991, almost 22 years ago. It seems surreal to write that, considering she is someone I met AFTER college. The mantra “age is just a number” begins to play in my head. We met as interns at Milwaukee Repertory Theater. My childhood friend, Elaine, was already living there. Gwyn, Elaine and I were all roommates — along with my very talkative cat from college, Guido.
In many ways, Milwaukee is where I really started to grow-up. I learned a lot of life lessons — both good and bad — all necessary. Even through it is where I got my Actors Equity card and started my road towards a professional acting career — it is also where the little voice inside of me began to whisper — maybe a life in acting is not for you?
I remember sitting in the Stackner Cabaret at the bar very late one night — actually many nights. There were always several company and guest actors there; some chain smoking. Many seemed miserable and tired from a life on the road; full of regrets. I was full of life and love and thought the world was just there waiting for me to make my entrance. I was still living in the ignorant bliss of youth (a place we should all reside as long as humanly possible) — feeling ready to take on the world at 22.
I wanted to hear how great it was to be a working actor in a company like Milwaukee Repertory Theater. At the time, my dream was to work full-time in a regional theater company. I thought that would be a great life — getting to play lots of different roles while receiving a steady paycheck. I never actually heard that sitting in the foggy haze of smoke night after night. It often depressed me as I sat there listening to story after story — many funny; but just as many filled with bitterness and regret.
I was cast in my first professional show at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater — as an understudy that definitely had to go on at least once — and I got my Equity Card. It was a Kander & Ebb cabaret show called 2X2X4. Once the show closed, I left shortly thereafter for New York.
My regional theater ambitions died in Milwaukee and I set my sights on New York City. I did not want to be a chain-smoking bitter actor telling stories of past glory and regret at a bar when I was 43. Instead I wanted to be a chain-smoking — heading-towards-bitter actor — trying to make rent in New York City?
Ahhh youth. Don’t ever send me back there. My asthma never let me become a full on chain smoker, but I occasionally did try.
I chuckle as I type this (at the age of 43) and realize we’re always telling some sort of story … bitter or otherwise. Perhaps smoke-filled bars with the liquor flowing is where misery and bitterness creep out into the night? Maybe over brunch the stories would have been more upbeat and full of gratitude? We never ate brunch; we were generally still asleep. Just gin and tonics. I drank lots of gin and tonics. It felt like an adult drink; unlike the White Russians I started drinking in Boston.
I remember imagining my life as a Tennessee Williams play — looking back on this, perhaps my desire to live in one of his plays was more my problem than the actors sitting at the bar telling stories with liquor flowing? Something to contemplate.
The flow was full of holds. Ellen’s class is where I find my placement, where I learn how to move from one position to the next utilizing the right set of muscles. The long holding of poses is sometimes frustrating — but it’s where my practice gets stronger. I think a lot about Gwyn, Elaine and Milwaukee throughout class. I think your day is always floating around you on the mat. Try as we may to clear the mind — there are always thoughts fighting to get in the crevices.
They generally find the cracks in the armor, until you reach the level of being able to levitate, perhaps? I will most likely never know the answer to this.
Gwyn is one of those friends that lives roughly ten miles away and I rarely see her, but when I do it is always like no time has passed and lots of time has passed. I can’t connect with her without simultaneously being 22 and 43 at the same time. We know just as many things about each other that we want to forget as we want to remember. I suppose all lifetime friendships do. I remember when we met and got the apartment in Milwaukee it was through a series of letters and phone calls.
Yes, in 1991 people still wrote letters. I still have most of them in my letter box. I cherish them. I love letters. Emails are quick and easy, I know — but there is something about letters. Gwyn was always the best letter writer.
Lying in the final twisting pose on the mat, I see myself with sealing wax. When I was a kid my Mom would buy me stationery and whenever I would write a letter, I would seal it with sealing wax. When I was in Venice, Italy I bought a glass calligraphy pen. It sits in the box waiting to be used. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a letter or bought stationery. Do they still make sealing wax?
While I am driving home, I feel grateful all is going well thus far with the fertility cycle. I also decide if I get good news in a few weeks, I want to write actual letters — with sealing wax. I may need some time to use the calligraphy pen, though. But it is something to strive towards — it’s not doing me any good sitting in a box.
As I drift off to sleep, I simply think to myself — I want to bring the letter back. What happened to letters?