Feeling: BACK TO IT
1. At hotel reception, there is a certain young lad who is my personal Prince Charming. He prints pages when I need them printed, he rehangs my curtain rod when I need it rehung (well, the one time I did) and he giddily grins and waves whenever I make my way by.
(Just to clarify; not in an I’m-attracted-to-you-way; purely in a you-always-smile-at-me-and-I-appreciate-your-acknowledging-so-I-merrily-reciprocate light).
The last couple of days, my right Birk has been talking. That is, the tongue of the foot encaser has been lapping out, causing me to trip every here and there (ok, even more so than usual). (Insertstion here: for those of you unsure of what I’m referring to when I say “Birk”, I mean my Birkenstocks. You know those flat footed, brass buckled Jesus shoes that were once only the domain of German tourists and staunch lesbians, but are now favoured by a mass grouping ranging from the teenage private school girl to the dad on holiday in Spain?). Yesterday I was trundling up the thick stone set steps, when the whole inner sole detached and flew off the back foot (literally).
I ambled home with the broken Birky in hand, carefully scanning the road (if you can call the potholed chaos that) to sidestep all the cow shit. When I got to the hotel lobby, my big grinning boy was there a’waving.
“What happened to your shoe?” He asked in concern, gesturing towards my dad sandal.
“It broke,” I sighed. “Do you know anyone around here good to glue it?”
“Of course,” he said, puffing out his chest. “Me.”
He proceeded to the back room, where he reappeared from with a pot of what looked like golden syrup, and a nail. He beckoned for my Birk, and after only a moment of hesitation, I handed it over.
Honestly, the care and attention he expended on gluing that thing back together made my heart swell up in sentiment. He painstakingly, meticulously, even laboriously ran his gluey nail across each smidgen of the surface and upon complete coverance, fastidiously measured the sole on the base before reuniting the two with force.
He handed it back over as if it were the most precious of seldom stones, instructing me oh-so-seriously to weight it down for best-bet adhesing.
And I can’t tell you his joy upon me bounding downstairs this a.m, Birk all in one and set in stone (well, in some golden, cheap glue that spurted a teeny bit out the side and discoloured a bit of the base. When he clocked the mark he was dismayed – I tried to hide it but he was adamant on surveying his work, and I assured him it added to the clobber cover charm and I loved my newly fixed foot).
2. Yesterday afternoon, my Quartert (Sabina, Maria, Priyanka and myself) headed over the bridge to the tattoo shop. For many years Priyanka has pined after a nose piercing, and decided it was the day to finally do it.
She was grand. Apart from a frisson of fluttery butterflies just beforehand and a slightly sweaty forehead on the needle going in, she took it like a champ and rocked her new golden nasal nook. We all stood with our hand on some part of her in moral support, a real defining friendship moment.
As we went to leave, Maria suddenly said, “I feel funny”. Cue dropping to the (very strategically placed – must happen often) chair and passing out.
A moment of rapid reaction where Priyanka grabbed sugar, I hustled h2O and Sabina rocked Maria’s head ensued, all of us in calm cohesion. Then suddenly Maria – absolute ashen-faced and blue-lipped – started to snore, and we all freaked out.
I’d never known someone to snore in a faint before. I flew into a frenzy that she was gasping for air and she was about to die, so started shrieking if I should throw water on her or not (as in droplets, I’ll clarify, not the plastic bottle). Sabina too sat up straight and started lightly slapping her, and Priyanka squeaked and danced from foot to foot.
Luckily, a minute (but what felt like 7890 of them) later, Maria came to, and after a moment of dazed Spanish speak, realised where she was. Some sipping on sustenance and a short sit down, and we were good to go.
We got downstairs and absolutely burst out in hysterics.
(And apparently snoring when passing out is actually quite common; fainting is just like going to sleep, so the tongue relaxes and out comes the grunt. Whoever knew? I hope one day that comes into great back pocket power in a quiz team or something). (Note to future self: join quiz team).
And Priyanka looks fab.
3. In Pranayama this morning, we were settling down for a wee meditate when one of the Chinese girls let out an, “Eeeeeee!” At the hotel across the way, a little gang of monkeys had found a wide open room window and were launching inside at pace.
“They are awful!” Said Martinet, the self-proclaimed lover of all animals, grabbing a broomstick and smashing it against the balcony to scare them away. “They go inside and steal your stuff and shit all over the place!”
It was rather amusing to watch this assemblage of apes disappear behind the curtain and no doubt ransack the room. We soon saw one retreat, a banana and t-shirt in hand. Soon after the others followed, a few other treats and treasures in tow.
Talk about monkey business.
4. Fourth and final point – because this ones a bit more of a narrative.
The other day in class we were doing handstands flicking over into urdhva dhanurasana (I.e., that “bridge” or “wheel” where you push your torso up and bend your back (pic below for those not in the know). Being newly initiated into the handstand brigade, I was launching into them with gusto.
(Ok, ok. I was showing off. Feeling quite spectacular, I’ll admit. Even if – when I got it on my first go – Martinet walked past and said, “You landed like a sack of potatoes. And close your armpits”).
In about the third-to-last throw at it, I felt a slight twinge in my back. By the time we got through seated and supine sequencing to lay back in shavasana, my lower left was really speaking up. “OWWWWWWWW,” it shrieked as I reclined. “Mate, you’ve mangled me.”
As per, I ignored it and continued with asanas the next two days, to increasing stabbing soreness.
Yesterday’s day off saw me give it a rest, with an attempt at some sun salutations having it speak up. Aside from some lengths of the pool, I kept my back at bay so this morning – for my second exam – it would be stellar to start.
After a tender night of positioning myself so as not be all in pain, I awoke and turned up to teach. Alas, it did not go anywhere near as well as the first class I commanded (a few circumstances surrounding timing and having too much to fill in the end, along with a stupid, “Do yogic breathing” and a lambasting Martinet scoulding, “To do yogic breathing in that pose is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE! NO!”). And upon my clever including of the headstand to urdhva dhanurasana flick flack (”twas on inversions and backbends this time, you see) I went to demonstrate what to do.
Fucking, fucking idiot.
I felt my lower back flare up in fury. Poker hot pain radiating like an all erupting Ring of Fire. If the last few days has seen it a 6.75/10 on the sore scale, this move motored it up to about 43.4.
And yet, I continued. Still careened back into camel, ignoring the stabbing shrieks sent equidistant to my spine.
In my break I took it easy, and still turned up to set to asana come 5pm – although I must say, gingerly rather than with gusto. I was attempting to contort myself into ardha swastikasana (believe me, exactly what it sounds like) when Priyanka saw my grimacing face and said (as I’ll admit, she has done the last couple of days), “Poppy you’re in pain. Stop it.”
After a mother-like muster from her, I stopped doing the standings and instead went and strapped myself to the door handle, hanging in down dog. (It’s a great release for the back). This was a big admission from me – to not do something, and to listen to my body – and I was feeling a little bit proud of myself.
Until Martinet came over and said, “Can you not even do anything?” in that disapproving tone of hers.
Maybe she didn’t mean it to sound so rebuking. Maybe it was a case of cultural cross-communication. But instantly my fear of coming across as lazy and incompetent arose, and I untied myself from my door handle hang and returned to my mat.
And absolutely fucked myself up.
By the time we all circled around for trataka (meditating on a candle flame; actually extremely peaceful, and the only one I can actually do for more than ten minutes) I was in all out agony. The tormenting tremors radiating up to my ribcage were setting off with a mere inhale, and – as these are somewhat necessary to keeping alive – I was kind of required to do so and thus experience the stabbings.
I’m somewhat ashamed to say it, but I did start to cry. Luckily trataka does make you tear, so I tried to pass off my shushed sobs as toxins retreating from my tear ducts.
Alas – or maybe actually a good thing? – Martinet caught on in the darkness. Upon calling everyone else to sit up form shavasana (just to clarify, we had stared at the candle for 20 minutes and reclined for a further 10) she came and sat by me and put her hand on my stomach. “Stay,” she said. After the standard three “om”s and such, she sent all the others on their way, then took hold of my legs to do some further sacrum releasing.
She didn’t say a word about my evident no-trataka-resulting tears. I didn’t say a word about my pain. She just pulled and pushed and I murmured admissions on sensations. Then we both packed up our things and parted ways with my, “Thank you.”
I didn’t want dinner. I felt nauseated and, to be honest, I couldn’t really stand straight. All I wanted was to curl up and have a cry on my bed. (Having a real pity party here, wasn’t I?).
But it wasn’t to be.
I’d just huddled into feel-sorry-for-myself position when there was a knock at the door, and there were my trio.
What beautiful friends I have here.
After big cuddles and giving me some giggles, I promised I would meet them atop after I had a shower. A mere five minutes later, as I stepped out of the cascading currents, there was another knock. Bloody hell, they didn’t give long before re-summoning, I thought. But upon opening it, I found two of the Chinese girls – translator Irene and quiet Jody – there with ointment and a pack of needles.
Turns out Jodie studied TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) at Uni for three years, and is well read on the subject of acupuncture, meridians and massage. After enquiring if I would feel comfortable with her sticking needles into my hand (“Of course!” I declared with a confidence that wasn’t quite so completely felt) she proceeded to find the relating points to my pain in my palms (well, back of them) and plunged the needles in.
After ten minutes of penetration (of the needles, not anything untoward. Just to be clear – in the case of the Birky business, I fall more into the private-girls-school category than that of lesbian one) she told me to lie down and set about pummelling my torso (again, in a very straight, non-sexual way).
One thing I haven’t yet a’mentioned is that quiet Jodie does not speak English, therefore all chat was conversed through ever-present Irene. Through the latter, I was enlightened that the former could feel the blockage in my back meridian, and that I should “stay with it” as she flew at me with her fists and fingers (again, in a I-have-a-boyfriend light).
She then pressed points in the back of my knees, a certain spot in my lower left calf and a niggle in my knobbly shoulder, before telling me to keep warm and under NO excuse was I to do do any exercise the following day.
(Quiet Jodie can be quite scary when adamant about something, it seems. Im pretty sure I just fell in love with a Chinese girl; she is magic).
While the pain didn’t completely disappear, it absolutely eased, and I was able to stand up and go upstairs to make the four of the quartet and listen to Maria read us Spanish bedtime stories.
(Just before I left my room, German Bianca came to see me with a big tube of Voltaren. My many visitors made me realise something of such truth; I am loved here. Very loved).
(And also extremely shit at keeping my sad and soreness on the D-low).
It got me thinking. Why the fuck did I keep going and going and going, when I knew my ailment was worsening? Why didn’t I listen to the symptoms being sent in the beginning, going easy for an afternoon and perhaps avoiding this current position? (The exact one right now being lying flat on my back, legs propped up on a pillow and wincing every time I move a single muscle).
It’s funny (well not at all, but it’s the only word that seemingly suffices). When I don’t do something, I see myself as weak. As incompetent, incapable, plodding and torpid. Yet when I see others outsitting – of which there has been plenty; one girl this a.m on her “moon days” (I.e., period), Philippa the other when she just couldn’t handle another class, German Bianca when she pretty much dislocated her shoulder and Sabina when she had her teeth all toyed with – I nod in respect of their knowing themselves. Admirance of them reading their feelings and bodies and knowing that for that certain hour or two, sitting on the sidelines is the most beneficial. Priyanka is especially incredible at it; she is so in tune with herself, she knows to her core what is positive and what just doesn’t feel good for her at any point in time.
But for me to get to the point of doing so (or not doing so, as it is) is akin to the likelihood of Papa Henio voting Greens (I.e., “like fuck”).
I pondered over whether this is an ED attribute. And to a degree, I think it most definitely is. But you’ve only got to look at my family to see I was somewhat already predispositioned.
Take Papa Henio. When he slaughtered his ankle up, his first day home from hospital he was out on the ride-on (lawn mower, I’ll clarify; not some sort of bull or implication of some sordidness), cast and all. And the cast itself came about as the result of his other ankle being a bit buggered, and him having his body position in a vulnerable position as he slalomed as a way of counteracting the initial injury. Even though his body wasn’t in the best condition, and he really shouldn’t have been skiing, he continued doing so.
And Mummy Deb, with yoga and the gym. The urge to go to pump often outweighs a snotty nose or shitty night’s sleep. Likewise with The Brother James; the routine weights-after-work overrides the fact the day has been overly long and much more arduous than the usual. (I’m not sure where The Brother Michael sits on this subject. He just does what he wants to do, so I feel he may very well be the exception to the Wort way). Sometimes, where rest and recuperation is more the right, the alignment to be active is adhered to.
Definitely not a fam to sit idle, even if in some situations we probably should.
But funnily enough (again, funny in that alternative use of the term, rather than the humourous light) when it comes to each other, it’s the opposite. When Mummy Deb was a bit under the weather a couple of weeks ago, I commanded her to miss gymsticks. When I’m feeling energy empty, Papa Henio tells me to tone it down. (And when he did his ankle, after a shower of sympathy, there was a bit of you’re-a-knobhead-I-told-you-so from a few of us family members – I.e., Mummy Deb and myself).
So is this sense of pushing beyond the loving limits innate in me, or is it a learned behaviour? It’s not necessarily always a bad thing – you could never call us half-arsed. But maybe – just maybe – us Worts need to learn to listen to ourselves a bit more, and if any appendages are inflamed, own it and owe it to ourselves to opt out.
A day sitting out of two asana classes and cardio tomorrow? Let’s see how I do, with my Chinese righting rub at the ready.
Just a quick P.S: I relish how here I truly don’t give a shit what I look like. I mean, at home I am not overly concerned; I may whack on a bit of mascara in the a.m and make sure – for at least the start of the day – my flyaways are minimal, but here my appearance isn’t at all a consideration day-to-day. Take last night; I rocked out in maroon, Puberty Blues-esque fishermen’s pants, a cropped grey jumper, a brown patch quilted headband and my ever-present, glue splurging Birkys. So quirky and mismatched, it almost looked purposeful.
It’s so fucking refreshing.