April 16th.

Woke up at 4 am.  Agitated, ill-at-ease, Denise sleeping soundly in the twin bed next to me.

I began my “fuck you” mantra.  Not very yogic, you may think, but bear with me.  Fuck you x, fuck you y….fuck you, fuck you, FUCK YOU!

I began to feel a sensation in my right hip, something stirring, releasing, surges of blood rushing in.  It climaxed, with a state of calmness, a state of comfort, and then all the warm, loving emotions came washing in – I found some clarity.

Our goodbye was terrible.  It was shitty.  No wonder I felt pissed off, cheated…I never said what I wanted to say, I never got to tell him how I felt.  Three of us left Koh Phangang about an hour after our final class with Matthew Sweeney, made our way to the ferry for Koh Tao.

I’d cried on the shoulder of almost everyone when I left, Janni stating that their objective for the past week had been “to keep Laura hydrated”.

“It’s ok.”  Matthew said, winking at me with those giant blue eyes of his.  I’m allowed to cry.  But jeezus!  When will it stop…I knew that this final farewell would be the most difficult for me…

Even though we were only staying a couple of resorts apart on Koh Tao, I felt that our paths diverted once the ferry stopped.  He to catch up with old friends, me to find some peace and solitude, let the intensity of the past month unfold and settle.  I’m beginning to listen to how the body feels.  I’m beginning to understand that truth is not what we think, but what we make contact with once the thinking stops.  This truth, I wished I’d shared then and there, instead of the awkward encounters along the beach, half detached, half connected.  I sat up in bed.   I have one more chance.  One more chance before he leaves to take this small but wonderful opportunity to put all this stuff I’ve learnt into practice.  Express myself, be vulnerable, have faith, share what my truth is…

I slept through to sunrise, and woke up with Nina Simone’s, It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day in my head, and gathered my things, trying not to wake the sleeping Denise.

Yoga clothes on, mat rolled up and in bag, hand towel at the ready, head phones on, Shiva postcard bearing my neatly scrawled truth tucked into the cover of James Meek’s, The People’s Act of Love.   What will be, will be.  Have faith.

The Shiva post card was a gift in our first week from Sofia, the Argentinian she-warrior, whose flashing blue eyes and blonde hair, screamed PITTA PITTA with fire and energy bursting through every movement, every gesture.  My introduction to her, was a South American kiss on my untrained cheek.  “Oh” I tried to disguise my uncomfortable English flinch, and laughed to myself as I saw Janni, from Stratford, do the same thing.  I wasn’t to know then, that particular moment was going to be the source of stomach-churning laughter over the coming weeks.  Sofia, my lovely Sofia, did what I’ve never been very good at doing, and put herself out there…declared our friendship as something special, with a gift – Shiva, propped up on the bed side table, next to the mirror.  It seemed only right that I take my lesson from her, fill in the blanks, and pass it on.

The morning was fresher than normal.  A light breeze brushing the hair off my neck, layer of white clouds, softening the sun’s strength.  I clutched my flip flops in my hands so I could feel the sand in between my toes, water lapping up against my ankles.

It was barely 7 when I walked past his accommodation.  As expected, he wasn’t there.  I’d stop by on my way back.  No need to speak, or make a fuss.  Just want to hand him the postcard and share one final hug.

I mounted the cement bridge, thin layer of sand exfoliating my skin; clambered across the rocks, under the volleyball net, shook off the piece-of-coral-stuck-in-foot twinge, and climbed the steps.  Up and up, winding around the View Point bungalows, until I came to the grassy clearing, framed with Bougainvillea.  Shaded and cool, a surprising absence of mosquitos, I breathed in and smiled, unraveled my mat, and laid her out facing away from the sun, towards the sea.  Second day of self-practice, a lot on my mind, never sure how it will be…

Meditation.  Fucking hard work.  In the shala we were taught to sit still…so very still…and focus on the small patch of skin beneath the nose, above the lip.  Be aware of the sensation of air brushing against it, beads of sweat forming, anything, as long as we were observing that small patch of skin, and not planning our days, singing songs in our heads, twitching, flinching, thinking up a hundred and ten ways of how we can make our escape.  To date, in yogic terms, it is probably one of the biggest challenges I face.  Sitting with yourself, letting go of the ego is painful…I mean hip-tearing, foot-cramping, chest-constricting painful.  In my first session my body was screaming, I mean literally screaming at me, “GET OUT!  GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!”  Matthew says that 95% of the pain is psychological.  Five minutes had gone by.  By the end of the course, I was sitting relatively comfortably for 20-30 minutes, exploring various patches of skin all over my body.  Today, in the solitude of my practice, out in such an open space, I found my mind wandering, tickled by the marching feet of a scattering of ants.

What room is he in?  Will he be at breakfast when I go back?
STOP!   Back to the patch of skin….

What if I don’t get to see him?

Sweat is forming, tiny bubbles, right there…

Should I even give it to him?  Maybe I should just let it go…fucking ants!  

Patch of skin, patch of skin, patch of skin…

Ah, fuck it.  Will try again tomorrow.

Chant.  Standing at the top of mat, hands confidently pressed together in front of my heart space.  Gently rocking backwards and forwards on the balls of my feet…until I settle, and close my eyes.

Ohhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmm (starting at the base of my body, and reverberating up through my stomach and chest, top of mouth vibrating….)  Deep breath.

Vande gurunam chara….blah blah…vinde

sand….something….sukhave bodhe

nihsreyase errrr….janga…..something….mane.

samsara HALAHALA mohasantyai.

ABAHU pur….something…ram

blah blah

blah blah

pranamami patanjalim.

OM

Must learn the bloody thing!

Asana:  Bloody brilliant.  Breathing strong, fluid motion, every twist and fold massaging and getting right in there on the right hip.  Can it be?  Can it be, that my “fuck you” chant is beginning to take effect, and my hip is opening?  Seven years of clogged up and fermenting anger…releasing?

I reached the finale, elbows pressing firmly into the mat and grass, as I slowly lifted my knees up into a half headstand.  No wall, no-one there to spot me, just the strength in my hands, elbows and stomach keeping me steady, keeping me upright.  Fuck me!  I nearly did it.  Closing up my practice I lolled myself back into Shavasana, smile on my face, have faith Laura, have faith.  

_______________________________________________________________

He wasn’t there.

I walked up to reception.  Asked what room he was in, hoping he hadn’t checked out already.  The woman opened the checking-in book in front of me, so I could scrawl down the list of names until I saw him.

“18.  Is it over there?”  I pointed down a path away from the beach, and she nodded her head.

12, 13, 14, 15…I held my breath.  Why was I so nervous?  Stay with it, stay with the emotion.  There it was.  18.  Soulless, no indication of him.  Curtains rolled up, recently cleaned perhaps.  I breathed again, and felt the nerves transform and tighten, moving up into my chest.

What will be, will be I repeated to myself, over and over, walked on by, didn’t knock.  Headed back to our bungalow.

I don’t know why I needed this particular scenario to reach its end before I could finally start to write again.  Perhaps it was the defining factor of what type of story this would be.  I know now, that this is not a love story, not in the Bridget Jones and Pride and Prejudice sense of the word anyway.

“Just two words, Peanut-butter & Toast.  Denise x”  Read the note on the locked door.  I pressed rewind on my i-pod, “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…” and made my way towards the cafe.  Ordered some toast, a banana shake, told Denise it didn’t work out…didn’t get the chance to tell him how I felt.

She patted me on the hand, and we decided to move seats, up onto the patio, away from the mosquitos, overlooking the street.  We talked about fate, and all those other things hippy yogis like to discuss in cafes, copy of The Power of Now resting between us, on the metal table top.  She was quoting something to me, about Westerners I think, and their restlessness, inability to ever be really happy…took a big mouth-full of peanut butter on toast, looked up, and there he was.  Backpack on, yoga mat sticking out, astride a rusty red scooter.

We both jolted upright and called after him…”Stop!”  Stop for fuck’s sake!  And he looked at us, startled at first, then smiled, and pulled up to the side of the road.

I grabbed my bag, frantically sifted through the pages of my book to find the Shiva post card, and jumped down the steps.  Ran, barefoot, across the dusty street, clad in sweaty yoga clothes, a redness in my cheeks…

“I wanted to give you this,” I thrust the post-card into his hands, “I tried to find you this morning…”

He smiled at me, turned it over, just for a second, and we interlocked in one final hug, kissed each other on the cheek, “goodbye, take care, good luck!” and I left him.  Scurried back to my little seat, eyes ablaze, Denise waiting expectantly.

“Fate!” she exclaimed.

Yes.  Fate indeed.  This story is not a love story.  Just as I said at the beginning of this journey.  It was never meant to be.  The first line of my scrawled truth simply states, “meeting you has changed me.”  As meeting Matthew, as meeting the wonderful group on the course has changed me.  So why all the drama, you ask.  It wasn’t a declaration of romantic love…it was much more than that.  The last four weeks have been mental.  Absolutely fucking mental!  Now he is gone, Shiva in hand, the earth is beginning to settle.  My final gesture was the markings of a new dawn, a new day…and I can start to write again.

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