Last weekend four of my good friends and I went to Portland for the weekend. We left the kids and the spouses behind, took the mini-van on the road, and shacked up in a rented town house overlooking the 405. It was brilliant in a million ways.
We travelled as a pack. We ate together, slept together, shopped together, and on the road home Sunday night in the minivan, we sang together. All weekend, we'd been reveling in the lightness we felt being on our own in Portland. At one point during dinner on Friday night, I became disoriented (the pre-dinner 'brownie' might have played into this) about what era of our lives we were in. I momentarily felt like I was back to my twenties when going out to dinner with a gaggle of girl friends was commonplace.
With a van full of Christmas presents and some personal indulgences for ourselves, we hit the road north back to Seattle on Sunday afternoon. We stopped at an incredible Mexican restaurant in Centralia to mark our halfway point, none of us fully ready to return to "normal." Once we were back on I-5, Jenna, the owner of the minivan, started playing DJ. We heard Sade, Simon & Garfunkel, Tori Amos, and Etta James among others. Eventually we started singing our own tunes-- The Eagles, Bette Middler, John Denver.
From the darkness of our minivan, we belted out songs we all knew. We harmonized. We sang back up. It was the perfect finale to a weekend of debauched bliss. There was so much goodness in the van, so much happy energy. It is a moment I want to remember always.
The next morning, Monday, I taught class at 930am. I can't say I was thrilled to be back from my weekend escape, but I was happily surprised, as I almost always am, to be back teaching. It was many usual practitioners, people I know well and love; all hard workers, focused Yogis. During Pranayama breathing, watching the students in the room, I had this wonderful reminiscence of my friends singing harmony in the minivan the night before. All of the different bodies, breathing separately but also together. It made me so happy to be simultaneously experiencing last night's memory and the present moment's reality at the same time.
Yoga is a big part of my life. It's my home, my away, my safe and my scary. My everyday practice gives me the grounding I need to move through the world sanely, and sometimes I have a class that is very, very hard, uncomfortable, unmooring. I still practice though because I know that through my practice I'll find my way home. Lately I've been expanding my practice-- still Bikram but also Vinyasa and Yin. It's refreshing and disorienting in all the best ways. The new practice energizes my old practice; it breathes new and different energy into it.
My relationship with my friends is similar. With each of them I've had countless moments of complete elation as well as periods of hard times and struggle. The everyday coordination of playdates, carpools, parenting advice is a critical structure in my life, but getting away from all of that is important too. Our trip to Portland, without the parameters that normally define us, gave us each a way to see each other differently, open ourselves up to new experiences, and sing our hearts out.