small things

You can’t walk outside in a Charleston July and not expect to be covered, immediately, with a layer of perspiration. Human dew: tiny rivers of sweat, starting at your thick-haired scalp and running, rapidly, to rest on your lower back, at times swimming down your legs to meet between your toes. “Hello fellow river of sweat!” “Hello!”

It’s the humidity. When I was home in Virginia last month I was hot, melting into the kiddie pool of ice water I’d dragged onto my dock. My dogs licked at me, slowly, as if they didn’t really care one way or the other. A little sunscreen in that lick, some elbow sweat in that one, whatever.

But the humidity is different there. It’s not as heavy. I felt vulnerable in that Virginia sun. It felt hard and sharp compared to the warm haze of Charleston’s orange globe. I missed walking through that fog. I complain about the heat because that’s a human thing that we do and it’s how we make small talk with people in line at the grocery. But I love it.

Emma Louise and I were walking in our neighborhood this morning, turning tentatively down new streets. We haven’t gotten our bearings yet. Our morning walks are endless sniffs and many u-turns. They are, without sidewalks, stepping into yards while large boat-hauling trucks pass. I give the two finger wave of acknowledgement that I’ve watched my father offer for years. Minus the deep ditches, the large fields, and the chorus of hunting dogs barking in unison, these streets are kind of like the ones I grew up on.

Emma and I are looking for water. She may not know that, but I don’t think she would mind if I told her. “Emma Louise our goal on these walks is to find the water. One morning, if we’re lucky, we will find a small muddy beach, and that will be our spot.”

We’ve found water. No muddy beaches. Yet.

I carry a coffee mug on my morning dog walks. Half of it ends up on my forearms and hands, burning at first and then just feeling like warm water. I get home with a small puddle of cool coffee in the bottom of a mug. I’m lucky if I get a couple sips. I like the idea of coffee on a walk, though. So I will always carry it.

I have been going to yoga a lot lately, trying to get in a certain number of classes in a certain number of days. These are my challenges at 24. At 21 I was trying to build a wizard staff as high as my head. Throwing up into a trashcan at the end of the night, I wondered how life changes, what pushes you as you grow older.

All of this yoga makes me stand up taller. It makes me take deep, deep breaths before I jump to conclusions. It centers me. It throws me off balance. You know, all of the yin and yang of life. That’s what headstands will do to you.

In yoga, we practice forgiveness. We forgive ourselves when we fall, hard, out of forearm stands. We forgive our hips when our legs won’t split any further. We forgive ourselves when we miss a yoga class because we were too hungover. Two days in a row.

In the summer I throw myself forward: what will I do this weekend and then next weekend and how much fun can I possibly have.

So much smaller than all of that is the Spanish moss that falls to the ground at the base of the trees on which it hangs.

Today, I will try to remember small things.


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