Spare Change

Photo by Tory Zimmerman

With 9 more hours left until my flight towards Guatemala, 2 cappucinos drunk (drank?), 2 hours slept in the last two days, 1 ham and cheese croissant consumed, $30 incurred in internet fees, 3 trips to the bathroom and 4 flights before my destination, I am sitting in Sao Paulo, after a month at Yoga Camp, pondering change.

Just as a young girl might brush her fingertips across her lips freshly kissed for the first time and wonder if she is irreversibly different, I too am wondering what parts of me are now molecularly rearranged for good.

Sitting in this airport, with caffeine coursing through my blood for the first time in a month, meat in my system and the residual effects of a two-day, post-Yoga Camp booze-bender slowly ebbing away from the gut-rot and headache of my hangover, I realize that perhaps Iwas expecting a Cinderella story.  A yogic transformation from plain-Jane-Jen into some ethereal, glowing pure little Buddha, a gentle smile permanently turning up the corners of my lips.

In the harsh, fluorescent light of reality I know that Buddha I be not.

And yet I know that I am changed.  Irreversibly.  My mouth is most often turned skyward and I suppose my new tan could pass for “that” glow.  I think that I might be tuned in and aware, but probably just sharp enough to realize that I need sleep, should lay off the cappuccinos and that airports and hangovers are a winning combination for inducing nostalgia and heart-wrenching melancholy.

So I found a bench and took advantage of the missing arm rest, popped in my earplugs and added 3 hours to my sleep roster.  When I woke, I laid my yoga mat in a corner and proceeded to give myself a sunrise yoga class next to a salad bar and a row of blue payphones.  With blood and breath now fueling through me, I can get back to the aimless meanderings of my thoughts.

Change.

It’s not as if there was any transformation, although I feel so freshly new.  Young.  But rather a lowering of the veil.  A shedding of skin.  Confirmed, in fact, as a trip to the bathroom revealed a patch of butt skin, recently exposed and sunburnt in my new Brazilian-cut bikini, is peeling off.  So I am snake-ily-like shedding, albeit from my ass.

I can´t help but wonder:  “what´s going to stick?”  Vegetarianism seems to have flown the coop and I haven´t even kept my commitment to eating meat only when I know where it´s from and how it’s raised.  Carnivorously I am digging the airport ham and cheese sandwich….strangely, that being the one thing I craved during this last month of farts and vegetables.

Half in the bean bag, I have NOW consumed two cappuccinos and one latte so caffeine seems to have made quite the quick come-back.

Did ethics and conviction get checked out when my baggage was checked in?

I look at all the faces in the airport and I wonder what stories might emerge, what hidden secrets would be revealed if I spent one month with them in Yoga Camp.  This makes me feel compassionate and connected to a room full of strangers and I hope that sense of awareness sticks.

I am hyper-sensitive to advertising, packaging and excess at the moment and though my urge to shop stems from a desire to trade in all of my clothes so that I can forever dress in billowing, bohemian hippie clothes in bright colors, eccentric prints, flip-flops, straw hats and colorful jewelry, I am trying to refrain.  On the flip side of excess I am now sprawled out on four airplane seats, having opened all four packaged pillow sets and am propped up and wrapped in three blankets.  I have, however, been using the same plastic cup for all of my water needs.

I make eye contact with strangers, an important social gesture brought into focus during one students’ yoga presentation.  A gesture I’ve avoided out of shyness, the attention to my eyes, or perhaps low self-esteem.  The presentation stated the importance of the slow, horizontal take-away of the gaze and that blinking or casting the eyes downward energetically displays a lack of confidence.  So in the spirit of wanting to see the humanness in others, of recognizing the importance of connection, even if only for 2-5 seconds, I’m making the effort to buck up and look up.

I feel as though my vision has improved.  Perhaps that can be attributed to the heightened sense of awareness that comes with travelling or perhaps I am just more aware.  I notice things like the edges of leaves and how they are different in color than their dense, veined counterparts.  Upon leaving Colombia my plane flew through God´s Manhattan.  Huge, vertical columns of inflated cumulus clouds reflected the sun in varying shades of pink and blinding scales of white.  Cavernous tunnels and stalagtite pillars formed a cotton labyrinth in the sky and much to the amusement of the shrunken Colombian woman next to me, I gasped out loud and simply admired, “wow.”

38 hours later, 4 airplanes in 3 countries, 6 coffees, give or take a few, 9 hours of sleep in the last 3 days, 2.5 ham and cheese sandwiches plus 1 chicken empanada, I am feeling the whine and the power of the plane engine beneath me and pondering change.  And thinking that if you embrace it, it’s pretty much an opportunity for a surprise party in every moment. Which is beautiful because if any of you have ever ridden in a taxi with me, you might know that I am not always cool with detours.

So you probably won´t catch me wearing glass slippers or floating in Nirvana under the boddhi tree, nor does reliving my first kiss morph me into a nubile young lady for that was a rather sloppy and nasty experience altogether.  I think I am still Plain-Jane-Jen.  I just hope that at the very least, I will continue to shed layers.  Even if it is only butt skin.

Photo by Tory Zimmerman

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