The Move (part III)

I have to admit that I had already planned to write the story of my departure before the event had even taken place.  I had it all built up in my mind of exactly how it would go.  All of the characters staged and ready in the dress rehearsal.  My expectation honed to its knife-sharp edge.  And doesn’t life always hand out lessons like that?  Like a little towel-snap on the rear-end, just to keep you in check and remind you who’s in charge.  I’m a yogi.  I should’ve known better.

It was a heartwarming story.  A story about the mysterious circle of life.  What goes around comes around.  To give is to receive.  Reap and ye shall sow.  I signed over my lease to my neighbours.  We have watched each others’ lives unfold through windows in our apartments, windows into our dining room tables, to family gatherings, friends, babies, food.  Through the commonality of our back-yard gardens and shared sidewalks we’ve exchanged pleasantries, albeit strained by the boundaries of language.  Connected strangers.  And I always wanted to be more neighbourly.  If you remember, I always wanted to get invited over for dinner and sit in the other side of that window.

So, maybe I never did get invited over for dinner at the dining room table I saw from my apartment every day for three years.  But in my story, I gave something even better.  I gave them the opportunity to put their dining room table in my dining room.  A fresh, new space for their blossoming family.

In my imagined reality, after finishing up the final bits of packing, Maude, Simon, Florence and giant, unborn baby-belly came over to my apartment to collect the keys.  Florence’s laughter rang out in the empty halls as she ran around choosing her new bedroom, Simon pondered the things he might build in my basement, his eyes twinkling with parental pride and patriarchal prowess, while Maude softly took the keys from my hands, one hand placed maternally on her goddess-like belly, her eyes full of mist and gratitude.  And I, I walked away from my apartment with my head held high.  A spring in my step, a skip even, self-satisfied with all of the joy that I had imparted on a family, the closure I had found in my heart, a wide-open road of freedom in front of me…….


It didn’t go quite like that.

I moved out on New Year’s Day.  After a semi-quiet, semi-lame, semi-perfect New Year’s Eve, I woke up with a semi-hangover at 6 am to finish packing.  I had two appointments with people coming to pick up beds.  I had planned on keeping my bed, but the damn thing didn’t fit down the basement stairs, so I had to give that away too.  I had to pack and re-pack my bags to keep the weights and baggage levels down to a minimum.  I had to empty out the bathroom cupboards, full of toiletries purchased on Fugly days (feeling fat and ugly days).  “Home Improvement Days” I call them.  Wrinkle creams, lotions, potions and salves.  Perfumes, body sprays, conditioners, bath salts and serums.  Slightly used and just killing me to throw out, but guaranteed to add years of youth and allure to the diligent and faithful consumer.

And while everyone was sleeping off their New Year’s Eve debaucheries, groggily envisioning brunches and coffee, I was sweeping dust-bunnies and choking on cobwebs.  Packing without a single person to help.

So when Maude showed up at my door at 10 am, I was, to say the least, NOT ready.  I mentioned I’d still need a couple of hours to finish up, and so she asked if it was okay to start moving some things in through the back-yard door into the basement.  That didn’t seem like too much to ask, so I agreed.

45 minutes later, my basement was nearly full of plastic bins.
49 minutes later, Maude was at my door again, asking if she could come in and start cleaning in the kitchen since she was no longer able to pack or move boxes due to her big belly.
50.5 minutes later, Maude and her seemingly ENTIRE matriarchal family-tree line were in my kitchen, scrubbing cupboards, vacuuming behind my stove and scheming a total take-over of Pine-sol and disinfectants.

Once the latex-gloved ladies had crossed the threshold, the men followed.

Neighbours, brothers, fathers, grandfathers and Simon started infiltrating my apartment from every orifice.  The basement, the front door, the back door, the windows (okay, not the windows…but it felt like it) had furniture being shoved through at an alarming rate.  My dog had been stepped on numerous times and I was hiding in my front bedroom, gulping mouthfuls of air like a fish, trying not to hyperventilate and cry.  By 1:15, their dining room table was set up in my living room, and upwards of 15 people, plus a guy in a wheelchair were sitting around that table, using my boxes as chairs, eating a deluxe, four-course lunch of soup, salad, vegetables and Tourtiere,  a French meat-pie traditionally served around the holidays.

The dining room table was in my living room, but I still had not been invited to sit at it.

Luckily, a sweet friend rescued me.  She walked in, saw the look on my face, surveyed the scenario, and said, “Jen, let’s get you out of here as quick as possible.”

Residuals were tossed without care or concern into black garbage backs. My luggage and a mattress loaded up in her car, my dog crouched into the front-seat floor.  The keys were handed over in between mouthfuls of meat-pie, a careless goodbye, au revoir, tossed my way before faces resumed their hunched-over devourings.

I felt like a cat that got swept on the ass with a broom…right out the front door.

I squished my way into the remaining space in the car; under the mattress, over my dog and between my luggage, and as we pulled away from that apartment, I curled into a tiny ball and sobbed huge, body-wracking sobs into the arm rest.  No opportunity to walk through the empty walls and let the waves of memory wash over me.  No lingering closure.  No proper goodbye.

I say in almost every yoga class that I teach to let go.  But the truth is, letting go isn’t all that easy.   We assimilate objects, stories and ideas until they become as much a part of your identity as your arm or leg.  Becoming an amputee hurts like hell.  And you will learn to walk again without that missing limb, but there are gonna be days when you still feel the phantom ghost of what once was intrinsically a part of you.

As with all things, there is a silver lining.  The Universe can be both cruel and kind.  Through a mutual acquaintance, I was introduced to a pilot who just happened to be needing lots of flight-time hours.  So after a 15-hour drive in a rented car from Montreal to Halifax,  swerving and skidding through snow-storms, me and my dog got a private flight in a teeny-tiny, two-prop plane to Charlottetown.

And as that plane lifted off, light as a feather, I could feel every updraft, every sworl of wind beneath my seat.   And though there may have been a skip missing from my step, there was freedom in my heart nonetheless.

And just enough of a welt on my rear-end to remind me that nothing ever works out quite how you expect it to.


Is This The End?

So did you think it was all over?  That I would just leave you hanging with no resolution?  No happy ending?  No crescendo-ing orchestral soundtrack in which to ride off into the sunset?

If there is anything I have learned in the last few months, it’s that the adventure is NEVER over and NEVER the same.

I am home.  In Montreal.  Sleeping in my bed.  Taking hot showers.   I am writing from a hipster cafe with Wi-Fi where every other person is connected and glued to their laptops.  I am NOT scribbling away in a journal, with my feet in the sand, salt in my hair and freedom in my heart.  And I’m trying to be okay with this.

Culture shock is a very real phenomenon.  I sort of feel like a puzzle piece with one little pokey-outey-thing missing.  Most of it fits, but not quite.  I never was much of an IPod person, preferring to be connected and aware of my surroundings, but now I don’t go anywhere without those little white buds stuffed deep into my ears, pumping Spanish Reggaton into my overworked eardrums because life here is just too noisy…too overwhelming.  Where are the horse-drawn carts, the toothless smiles peddling mangoes and avocados, the silent heat of the midday sun?  At least with the groovy beats of my Central American soundtrack playing, I can almost smell the sea.

I am broker than I have ever been in my life, ten-thousand dollars in debt and I am struggling to put together a living.  I don’t want to get a full-time job because yoga is where I want to be.   So I am trying to piece-meal together a living out of odd jobs.  And when I say “odd-jobs”,  I do mean ODD.

For example, last Thursday, I worked at a Hasidic Jewish printing shop collating and stapling pamphlets.  I got lost in the repetition and felt like I deserved a gold Star of David each time I picked out exactly the right number of sheets, starting with a cover page that said “Who Is A Good Wife?–A Talk on Integrating by Rabbi Katz.”  Today I applied to be a “Dog Washer”, stating in my reply that I think I would make the perfect candidate for the job because “I have a very hairy border collie who likes to roll in mud puddles and accumulate dread-locks.”  I am thinking of starting another blog:  One Hundred Days of Craigslist.  One hundred days where I respond to an ad from EVERY category.  What do you think??  I’m a little nervous about the “haiku” section and let’s not talk about the personals….

The man I was dating before I left on my four-month adventure, who was perfectly wonderful, fun, easy, spontaneous and all the rest has told me that he has no interest in continuing our relationship so I find myself slightly wounded and cynical again, and really starting to crave a person, you know?

However, my new roommate and I have this lovely domestic relationship that suits me just fine.  He is gay, a lawyer and doesn’t get squirmy when I talk about my period.  I told him that since I have no money, but loads of time, and he has the opposite, that I would make a perfect little house-wife and make sure that there is dinner on the table, or food for him to bring to work if he buys the groceries.  We make each other dinners, cocktails, and last Sunday, spent the day gardening, preparing for summer and turning the basement into a 70’s style hippie-den, making trips to Home Depot, engaged in all things nest-like and homey.  (That is to say, now there is a couch down there, a hammock, twinkly lights and paper lanters and it is the space where he goes to practice his accordion.)

I am teaching my practice classes, twice a week, at the studio.  I am trying to find my voice.  My confidence.  The knowledge within me that I DO have the power to inspire, educate, and challenge my students.  It’s coming.  Slowly, it’s coming.

But the thing that is bugging me the most is how quickly I revert to my old ways.  When I was there, when I was away, I was SO happy.  SO free.  It seemed like I was fundamentally altered.   I was a person that I genuinely liked…for the first time in well,  a while.  And now, not even two weeks back, and already the shit-storm of self-doubt, anxiety, and over-analyzing is whirlwinding around in my brain.  I am stressed about money, finding work, my health, my big butt, being a good yoga teacher and a good person.  I growled at my dog yesterday.  Growled at her like a dog.  Pinned her to the ground like a dog.  And then proceeded to cry into her neck on my hands and knees like a crazy person.

Where is that person that I liked so much?  That person that felt open and confident, sexy and fun, easy-going and relaxed.?  It’s like playing hide-and-seek with your shadow.  She’s in there somewhere….   

“Olly, olly oxen free!”

I am trying to take deep breaths and know that everything will fall into place sooner or later.  And for my dog’s sake, hopefully sooner rather than later.

The one thing that stays true is the gratitude.  This heart-swelling, chest-expanding thank-FULL-FULL-FULLness for the experience.  I bow my forehead down to the ground, shake my fists at the heavens and clasp my hands in prayer.  Thank-you for the adventure.  Thank you for the journey, for the lessons, the insight, for the food, the friends, the love.  Thank you for the awesome beauty, the largeness of this world, the goodness in all people.  Thank YOU for coming with me.  For your support along the road.

Thank you.

Namaste.  (Because I know now what it means, and when I say it, I do so with truth and love)

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