Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's My First Time

Yeah, It's been a while since I've used that line.  It's probably been a while for you, too.  Yet those were the words I uttered - actually tongued, aloud!- this morning as I rested my elbows on a reception desk deep in the bowels of a strip mall on the edge of town.

It's my first time.   I spoke the words with no irony and a twist of trepidation.  The grandmotherly woman behind the desk squeaked as if I'd goosed her.

"Oh!  How fabulous!  It's fabulous.  Isn't it fabulous?"  This to the woman who'd come in behind me, already removing her shoes.

"It's fabulous," the woman confirmed. She bounced up and down on her toes, adjusted a pair of shorts smaller than any I'd seen on any adult woman, ever.

"OK," I said, "Great."

I wasn't gunning for fabulous.  I was gunning for tolerable, or maybe non-lethal.  I was at the Bikram yoga studio, prepping for my first class.

Oh, sure, I practice yoga.  If practice means whiz through a 20-minute video on your computer while thinking about what to have for dinner and occasionally checking your Twitter feed during upward-facing dog.   But I'm not a serious yogi, and  I'd never done, or much wanted to do, Bikram yoga, which involves spending 90 minutes flailing semi-nude in 104 degree heat amongst flexible and odiferous strangers.

Yet, here I was, clutching my towel.

It was the gift certificate's fault.  Nothing gets my cheap little heart beating faster than the prospect of losing out on free stuff, and a while back some misguided soul had gifted me with expirable Bikram.  A lot of expirable Bikram.  Good for a year, gifted a year ago.  It was strip or be stripped.

I stripped.  I lay back.   I closed my eyes and thought of England -which, among other virtues, boasts a climate substantially cooler than the interior of the Bikram yoga room.  I did some other things I don't want to talk about, having yet to work through their ramifications for my dignity.

I didn't find Bikram horrendous.  Nor did I find it particularly revelatory.   It was what it was, and I will probably go again, if only because I continue to labor under the crushing psychological weight of additional expirable Bikram.  But it won't be as important, because it won't be my first time.

It's my first time.

The real revelation I took from Bikram today was just how God-awfully long you can go without speaking those words.  As we age, as we work ourselves into the more or less comfortable ruts of our lives, there are fewer and fewer instances in which we require of ourselves the leap -and it is a leap- of doing something we come to naked.  When's the last time you did something with which you had no experience, something you weren't even sure you wanted to do, but nevertheless, were up for trying? 

There comes a point at which we've made many of our leaps.  We're married, most of us; we have careers and kids and hobbies and homes and tastes.  Nevertheless, I think it needs to be done: stepping, even if ever so briefly, out of line, opening the door, opening our mouths.

Hey, yes, It's my first time.

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