(trying to love) new year’s eve

I’ve never really liked New Year’s Eve.

It was OK when I was younger. We’d bundle up and head to my friend Emelie’s house where we’d roast marshmallows on the biggest bonfire I’d ever seen. Our parents would swill wine and beer and we’d sneak off into the woods, racing fast, assuming, always, the inevitable boogey-man snatching. We’d take breaks in “the little house,” a cottage near the bonfire that smelled of raw wood and fresh paint.

In our early teens and even as recently as a few years ago we’d sneak over to the house, not really sneaking anymore, but the sensation was the same. We’d chug warm liquor and get high tucked down by the stairs, blowing smoke into starry nights. Give me that — just don’t give me New Year’s Eve.

Last year I kissed a guy who had just minutes before complimented my outfit. I’m very sure that he was gay; our dalliance was brief. The year before I kissed my then-boyfriend, after I snapped at him for flirting with other girls, which he wasn’t doing. He never did.

Oh, and the year before that I chased my sister into Nashville’s streets, yanking, hard, on her arm, trying to keep her from going home with strangers. We all made it back that night — in an unmarked van that the next day, didn’t feel like the taxi our desperate drunk selves had hoped it would be.

Needless to say, legal-drinking age NYE parties have not served me well. The high school ones — in between the little house and Music City — were various editions of Kraig’s garage, where one of my fondest memories is sitting on the bathroom floor with Erica, heating our asses with the only vent we could find. I’m serious, that was a nice time.

 

And yet, despite my cynicism and my insistence that New Year’s is my least favorite holiday (it’s just a calendar page, after all), I have decided to celebrate with all of the joy I can muster.

Because it’s a beautiful indulgence, isn’t it? To throw confetti in the air because you made it through another year, to swill throat-tingling champagne in honor of a foot in the next door? No, really, it’s not all that bad.

I know that NYE makes some people happy. I know that at one point in my life, the fireworks my dad shot off over our creek thrilled me to the bone. So, I’ve got one New Year’s resolution: enjoy New Year’s Eve.

I’ve seen peoples’ faces fall when I spit hate-fire at all things New Year’s. They like those photo booths with the mustaches! They live for the ball drop. They want glitter — they need it.

And for one night (and maybe, even for longer than that), they’re right. I can walk, sing, dance, love, and drink my weight in a red blend. Why waste time hating something when you can cheers to it?

 

 

 

 

 

yoga: a love story

Almost two years ago, in January, I entered a yoga studio with a crumpled up Groupon, mismatched socks, and a brand new pink mat (I cringe even now, recalling how a new mat sounds, sticky and fresh when you unroll it.) I remember the socks because I wore them into the room, only five minutes into the whole thing realizing that I could be barefoot.

(I’d “done” yoga a few times before. The hot kind was what I thought I wanted — supreme exhaustion and the promise of weight loss were part of my college girl drink a lot, study, sleep a lot, be skinny dream. I only went a few times. Hot yoga, it turns out, is not for me.)

This studio, Satsang, was always warm and welcoming, and it changed who I am, or at least who I thought I was capable of being.

(A bunch of hooey, right? Stop drinking the juice? I thought so too, at first. I really don’t anymore. It starts with letting yourself accept that you like what you hear. For example, Satsang means “being in the company of the truth or the good by sitting together with a group.”)

I was hesitant to chant, to sing, to meditate. The postures can create pause as well — can I stand on my forearms if my neck is the first to crumple? I still don’t know.

I am not a special yogini. I’m a regular one who curses traffic on my way to class. I eat animal products, which a lot of big-hearted yoga practitioners do not. I drink alcohol and I roll into my pillow, hungover. In the past two years I’ve attended all of four yoga classes on a Saturday or Sunday.

I go weeks without practicing. I spend weeks in classes, frustrated, wondering why I went in the first place.

And I always come back.

Two years ago I didn’t take a deep breath when I lost my keys. I cried. I screamed. I traveled down a rabbit hole of hate and anger. Of course I still do that — I’m human. But I recognize it now. I let it pass.

I cannot say enough how important it is to be with yourself. Find your center. I think this is my version of an advice column, the kind you take with a grain of salt.

I don’t think yoga is for everyone. My sister likes to go to spin classes, riding madly into a blasting sound system of rap music. I also like to run, slowly setting my lungs on fire, pushing against the mad thoughts of the day.

Some people walk their dogs. Others dance in front of a TV or Google Pilate workout videos. Some people don’t exercise at all.

It’s not what you do but how you do it.

It’s not what you say but how you say it. Yoga has taught me so many foreign words, but not so many foreign concepts. The big love I feel in classes has become a substitute for a spirituality I’ve never explored — it’s an answer to questions I was afraid to ask. I don’t know about God or gods. Deep breath, twist, exhale, twist. And not knowing is OK.

I spent all weekend on my couch with a half-cold. Half-sick, half-bored, the usual seasonal affective shit. I wanted to move, I wanted to eat, I wanted to get drunk. I knew that I needed to be still to get better but I was angry at what felt like a slovenly version of my self.

The solution is sometimes a sleeping pill. It was on Friday night. And Saturday. You move past that. You learn to be gentle with yourself. Being gentle isn’t Family Guy-ing for ten hours, head peeking just barely out from under a dog hair laden blanket.

Being gentle is so many things. It’s taking a moment to assess what you need. And then it’s giving it to yourself. It’s seeing what others need and giving them what you can.

For me that’s waking up early, walking my dog. That is ahimsa — kindness, non-harming, gentleness. It can be so simple.

Tonight one of my yoga studio’s spaces will close. A shala. My mom says, “What’s a shala,” knowing that it’s probably just another word for studio.

It sounds nicer though, Mama.

I went to class last night, my last one in the first place I ever really sat still. I cried in my car after, happy, sad, stagnant, electric. The usual, you know?

We roll out of savasana and we bow our heads to the altar. There are images of teachers there — yoga teachers are my secular angels — a glass of water, mala beads, Ganesh in all his glory.

Every time I bow I think the same thing, Am I here yet? For me that means, have I become a little more whole than I was before? Have I stopped making fucking grocery lists in my stillness?

My hands shake as they touch the floor. I never know the answer. I never feel completely at peace. Maybe I never will.

But I sure as hell won’t stop practicing. Namaste, y’all.