I love being middle-aged, although my friend Nina (rhymes with Dinah) tells me I am only middle-aged if I expect to live 115 years. I’ll put it like this: the joys of being 57 out-weigh the nuisance of it. The biggest nuisance is the squadron of odd body parts that twinge and whinge with no predictability, and over which I have no control.
It’s driven me to try something I haven’t tried in 25 years. Yoga. Down the street from me is a lovely place called Whole Life Yoga. They have a class called Yoga for Real People which says a lot about the flavor of this studio. The last time I did yoga, the studios seemed to be mostly for Un-Real People.
I’ve been attending the mild, hour-long Yoga For Over 50 on Mondays but I missed it the other week because of an appointment with my *book designer.* So I upped and decided I would go to Yoga with Core Focus on Friday which on top of not being the least bit mild, was an hour and fifteen minutes, the last 15 minutes of which was quite unforgiving.
At the time I didn’t think I was doing all that badly. It’s just that in Yoga for Over 50, we never do downward dog and we never squeeze bricks between our legs to enhance our attention to the pelvic floor. I am new enough to yoga that the bricks have a kind of mystique, kind of like the black keys to a piano beginner and that tic-tac-toe looking thing next to a note. So I might have used my brick rather too enthusiastically.
The stretches certainly knocked out the sciatic pain I’d been having but on Saturday morning I found that a lot of my muscles had rather enjoyed the fresh air and didn’t want to go back inside. They had a list of complaints, had organized a hearing, and expected their demands to be addressed. All weekend, I crept around trying to accommodate everybody. Every move required thinking, planning and the juggling of conflicting needs.
By Monday my various precincts were reasonably happy. I would have gone to Yoga for Over 50 except it had been canceled. I fussed over the weekly class schedule. I didn’t want to lose what small in-roads I had made. There was a Mom and Baby class. I thought perhaps I could go as the baby.
I finally decided it was going to be Yoga with Core Focus again. Since I knew what was on offer, I planned to modify the poses somewhat. But there was a different teacher and she had a whole different regime. I tried taking extra breaths between the movements so I wouldn’t overdo and the teacher kept checking to see if I had passed out. I swear that last 15 minutes went on for an extra hour. I didn’t dare watch an advanced student for fear I would start trying to keep up with her. She stayed after and did extra stretches –that’s so annoying.
I went from yoga to meet my friend Nancy who is so much more than someone who can tell me every time I have deconstructed a thought, at Green Lake. If you aren’t familiar with Seattle, Green Lake is encircled by a walking path that is just shy of three miles long. It’s a great favorite of walkers, with or without dogs; strollers, bicyclers, and roller bladers. I like it because it’s finite. No one says, “Do you want to go a bit further?” You go around it and you’re done. Except maybe that advanced student might go around it twice.
There was a cold wind coming off the lake.
“Let’s walk briskly,” Nancy said.
This was a terrible suggestion. When Nancy and I meet every Friday afternoon at Green Lake, we do the Walk for Over 50 so we can talk. If we can’t walk and chat, I’d rather have a conversation over a latte at Peets.
We did do about 25 yards at a faster pace but then dropped into a rhythm that invited catch-up news, gossip and philosophical musing. I started feeling stiff when we were exactly halfway around. Like Life: it’s finite, you get stiff halfway around and there’s no advantage to turning back.
I was walking like Frankenstein by the time I got home and fell into an Epsom salt bath. Well, actually I fed the cats first. Otherwise they might have tried to drown me in the tub. I sank into the warm water with a Jameson and my Boden catalog. Boden is a British fashion company that I originally got interested in purely because when you register on-line, you get a drop-down menu with twenty titles to choose from: the usual Mrs., Ms., and Mr. But then it goes on to Princess, Wing Commander, Lady, The Hon, The Duke of, Viscountess.
Since there was no option for Queen—and I suspect one would have to be British to fully appreciate why–I chose Squadron Leader. All my Boden catalogs come addressed to Squadron Leader Elena Louise Richmond. My friend Chris, the unclassifiable except she was in the Army, is the only person who occasionally acknowledges my title. I wish it were more widely appreciated. It would be so great if I could use it to command muscles and joints to be At Ease.