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.


Get Out of the Looking Glass…

It’s a good day to go to Brazil.  On the day of my departure, winter finally hit.

It only started snowing around 11 am, but by the time I was on my teeny-tiny tin plane to Detroit, the world was a blanket of white.  A shroud of fog and snow enveloped the airport lights until they misted out into oblivion.  Beautiful, yes, but not looking so good for visibility.  Patches of the white stuff scaled across the tarmac like psoriasis on an albino.  I watched with focused and rapt attention as the horde of yellow de-icing trucks descended  upon my air-planes’ toy wings.

Just in case they missed a spot.

Our wings sufficiently coated with what looked like Lime Gatorade, I white-knuckled my seat rests as we hoisted into the sky.  With probably only just enough horse-power to clear the clouds, I surfed on a sea of cumulus, left behind a winter-wonderland, and stared out a tiny window at the horizon-line of a pale, pink winter sunset.

I think that I am finally experiencing an emotion that resembles excitement.  Or else I’ve mistaken that for nervous energy.  At the airport and on the plane, I wanted to eat EVERYTHING.  Devouring all those micro-waved plastic pouches of well,….probably chemically scented, preserved and infused plastic, as if it was a Kobe beef filet-mignon.  Constantly inserting peanuts, pretzels and granola bars into my mouth…to smother and placate the frenetic butterflies in my stomach.

On the way to the airport, I couldn’t stop talking.  And when I said goodbye to my friend, I couldn’t tell if I was laughing or crying.

I am really doing this.  I really just said goodbye to all of my stuff, to my friends, my dog, to a new love….to everything which makes me feel grounded and provides me with a point of reference.  A circus of memories, experience, juggling acts and clown-like impersonations.  A veritable fun-house of mirrors, with so many reflections and perspectives of myself.

But it’s all illusion, isn’t it?

I mean, obviously those things exist, but are their reflections accurate?  Does looking into one mirror give me enormous skinny legs and a stretched-out bobble head?  Does one reduce me down to midget size to become one in the land of the Munchkins?  And why, why do we pay so much attention to these reflections of others??

Have you ever balanced on one leg while looking in the mirror?  Found calm and stability within the throes of your own gaze?

Now close your eyes.

Me, I always fall.

So that is the goal: to balance on one leg with my eyes closed.  To know exactly where I exist in space, to balance there, internally, without relying on ANY reflections.

Because isn’t that the only perspective that matters??

“Finding balance is not letting anyone love you less than you love yourself.”

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