i am sorry for my neglect. i know you are used to a certain kind of care and activity, and the past year of travel has been pretty rough on you. thank you for allowing me to indulge all this world has to offer. i am now vowing to dedicate the next month to you. spring is about rebirth and revival, and we are going to focus on all sorts of re- this month.
your remorseful inhabitant
when you go away to college, everyone warns you to watch out for the “freshman fifteen.” i was lucky enough to evade the dreaded increase in pounds during those four years. i watched the bodies of people around me morph into new versions of themselves. i attributed my stagnant shape to my lack of massive alcohol consumption and obsessive nature to fill my every waking moment with physical activity of some form.
i took my changeless curves for granted. they appeared early and remained consistent for over fifteen years. an hourglass wave that was an embarrassment at age twelve but a blessing shortly after. i made my mom purchase dance leotards one size too small just to compress and hide those unsightly mounds upon my chest during ballet class, until one day, everyone else caught up. all the sudden, we became aware of our bodies.
as a dancer, i grew up engaging my body and staring at it in an entire wall of mirrors. watching its every move. bending and swaying. contracting and extending. it became something outside of myself. a tool that could be manipulated into endless expressions of emotion. every inch of my outline was committed to memory unconsciously. the slightest change never went unnoticed.
of course, there were small variations that occurred here and there. smaller this, bigger that. stronger this, weaker that. but nothing the general acquaintance would be able to pinpoint. everyone obviously knows their own body better than anyone else, but there is something more to it for a dancer. the awareness seems so potent.
despite the horror stories of eating disorders that hover around dancers, i never felt judgment from myself or those around me. the awareness was not critical. it was an acknowledgement of change. the discovery of a shifted medium. but maybe that’s because my body rarely changed.
i have never been the skinny ballerina. although tall and fit, my flesh has always wandered along snakelike, slithering back and forth, creating divots and hidden pockets of sensual white space. i have become very comfortable in the steadiness of its structure.
but the reality is that change is the only constant, and our bodies are firm reminders of this fact.
for the past year, it seems as though my body followed suit with my wandering mind. when rooted in routine, it remained rocklike. when thrown to the winding river, it became unbridled.
now, i want to preface the next section of words, with this: i know i am not fat. that ugly word to which we all subjectively assign meaning. this is not a rant where i will complain about the ten pounds i put on while traveling. it is merely a reflection on my relationship with appearance… and the effects of drinking beer.
i didn’t put on those infamous fifteen pounds associated with collegiate debauchery, but i did manage to put them on while living in australia.
inserted into a culture where a beer or two with dinner is the norm. i am not saying that that same culture does not exist in america, but amongst my circles, it is unusual.
inserted into a remote town where you can’t find at least twenty yoga studios on google within a mile of your house. or a climbing gym. or an adult/professional dance studio.
now i know that some of you are rolling your eyes at me and thinking that you can do yoga anywhere, especially as a trained yoga teacher. and yes, i could stand on my soapbox and preach to you for at least an hour about how personal practice is extremely important. how taking time to develop a daily routine that can keep you grounded no matter where your physical location brings you is essential to maintaining balance. hell, i even wrote an article about it.
i have no excuse. i am not perfect. there are so many articles about how to stay in shape while traveling because it is hard!
i indulged in the sedentary side of my situation. slowing down felt good. relaxing into something lazy felt good. letting love create imbalance felt good.
and then it didn’t.
all of the sudden, the button on my pants pursed with pain. my comfortable curves poured over their established boundaries. and for the first time in my life, i felt judgment sneak in. i stepped on the scale and was confused as the tens digit changed from its usual reading to something else. something new. something unsettling.
i wouldn’t change the way i spent my time at all. i don’t regret giving into inactive for once in my life. like when elizabeth gilbert gains weight eating heaps of delicious pasta in italy. sometimes it happens and it is more than okay.
but it made me think about my resilience to physical change. in my twenty-seven years, i have had the joy of never having to deal with drastic bodily changes. yet, i’ve always known they would come at some point. babies is a definite game changer on the horizon, and as women, we all get that. but it was shocking how much ten pounds affected me. maybe a life in front of mirrors impacted me more than i thought.
i am now craving a return to routine purely so my body remembers itself. remembers the way it arches and flexes. stretches and flows. i am a stranger in this shape. it is not time to give into something new.
so home to portland i go. a city filled with endless options to stay active. businesses and teachers that feel like family. as soon as i step off the plane, i’ll be headed to nathan’s yoga class. an easy reminder of how balanced movement makes me feel. the first step to reclaiming myself.