Is that what it feels like to relax? It this what it is to surrender completely to the floor, lying flat on my back? [Sniffs] This sensation is too much like exhaustion for me. I don’t know the difference. But maybe, just maybe, now I’m starting to learn that a thin rubber mat and the wood floor can be as soft as a full-on, pillow-topped mattress I slept on once when I stayed at that fancy Santa Monica hotel. Clearly, I didn’t pay for that trip, but I do remember the comfort of that bed when I finally was allowed to spend time in it. The multiple martinis and wine and conversations I had before sleeping there might have meant that I was more relaxed during that longago trip than I ever was when I running the letters of the alphabet in New York using public transportation, trying to get around a city where I was always lost and people called the train lines by their colors. But that hotel bed and glittering coast were not real.
[Takes a sip of a coconut milk latte]To truly relax on the hardest of surfaces is not something that can be planned or orchestrated. It was suggested as something the body could possibly achieve when the rubber band [remember those? binder clips keeping packets closed are all the rage these days] keeping my back and hips pinched unnaturally with its exquisitely tacky tension, sticky sickly smell – was shifted to one side, a sensation that made me sick to the top of my head, because that’s where the tears are stored, not in my stomach. [Swallows. Eyes large, looks up] And they sat there, saccharine and crystalline, waiting, quietly, making words and gestures garbled and in slow motion; it was like watching things happen underwater, or as if I was observing someone else. [Coughs] Then they spilled out in the cold air with one full-mouthed gasping bawl; I had to watch myself. Someone might ask if I were ok, and how could I describe a rubber band that had been shifted to the right place, and was holding things as they should be rather than violently pulling and tearing and aching?
[Shakes head] There isn’t an explanation for why things end up away from their prescribed places, especially when I know that I am diligent about putting things back where they belong. I always closed up the half-empty packets of crisps, put my toys away, cleaned up, except I never liked cleaning my room – who does when they’re a teenager? [Looks out into space] I moved to New York, and then it was doing, doing, doing, all of the time because no one stops and nothing is ever clean, no matter how hard you try. And I tried. I scrubbed and exerted effort to the extent that something was fundamentally shifted out of place and I stopped sleeping. I ran too much.
[Smiles]Then it took a yoga mat and an understanding and a hard floor to realize, physically, what “relax” meant. So this morning, I woke up, went for a jog, and came to the same snow-covered hill at which I marveled last week. The snow had melted, so I walked to the top to check out the view. The grass was still very damp, and somewhat muddy, so I carefully stepped part way down, before running, grinning, keys jingling that last little portion.
When it’s dry, I’ll fly with the wind at my back.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”