Monday, September 21, 2009

Seattle Air

Today I noticed the air in Seattle. It’s soft, spongy, almost silky. As waters in different places differ to the mouth, local air has a unique sensation against the face, upon bare arms. The soothing Seattle air makes me happy I moved here. It’s the kind of surprise that keeps me plodding on through my life, taking risks, hoping for the salvation of discovery. Not same-old, same-old every day, but something entirely fresh and welcome to consider.

Yesterday, in yoga, during shavasana—the corpse pose that conclues every yoga class—I spun off and left my body. This is not an experience I have often, maybe once in a decade. I don't know if most people do or do not have out of body experiences, but in my experience they can be quite seductive. Floating away from the body, hovering nearby, observing all, fully at peace. As the singing bell sounded, softly, softly, a little louder, a little louder, I knew that I was much too far away to re-enter gently. I crashed back into corporeality. There was a dense and painful impact in all of my senses. I was unable to wiggle toes, roll on my right side, and sit up. I felt totally miserable because for a moment, I’d had the sense that I could be alive without my body, without the cumbersome, achy, pain of this body. And yet, I know that I don’t really believe that the consciousness I know as “me” will survive the life of this body. Recovery, re-entry took a while.

Later, continuing with my plan for the day, I picked up Pete from the nursing home and we went shopping at the Village Thrift Shop, Pete making good progress with his cane, 79 years and more spry than I expected. And I needn’t have worried that we would have trouble finding the place. As we circled a promising perimeter, Pete would say, "hmm this looks so familiar" and then lean out the open window and ask for directions willy-nilly at every corner, until someone told us how to get there. I got a parking spot right in front of the store. Pete bought a winter coat and scarf, a spiffy blue sweater, and two pairs of shoes. Very good taste, I thought. We stopped at Rite Aid and he picked up underwear and socks. In less than 90 minutes we were back at the nursing home, Pete humming as he put his new things in the half closet he shares with a roommate.

Here's the thing. Pete moved to the nursing home from the hospital and never once got to go back to his apartment and get his things. He has been without shoes for 5 months, shuffling along in plushy slippers that someone at the home found for him. No one—and this includes me—thought to take him shopping for basics. He had money, but no wheels. He was pretty happy about the outing. To tell the truth, so was I. It’s like the soft Seattle air. The sensation of weightlessness for a moment. The idea that there are discoveries yet to make. Alongside the drudgery of the body, decaying day by day, until it goes. I think it might be enough.


  1. Lovely too. Working through the pain, gaining insight, inspiration and new knowledge. A trip to the thrift store with Pete, a treasure. What a great move you've made breathing in that green pacific air. And working through yoga can give you new clues to the many questions regarding going on with life, beyond pain.

    Right here now there's a sweet cross-breeze coming in thru the windows, from the Hudson and the Atlantic, remember? It's all good and I'm so happy for you dear Risa. Mark