You Can Go Home Again…But Wait Ten Years

Having a Ten Year High School reunion seems a little bit redundant in this day and age. Am I too young to say “this day and age”? I mean with all of the connectivity that is available to us right at our fingertips it seemed a little silly to hear that one of my friends that was on our High School Senior committee was experiencing high anxiety  trying to plan our NFHS Class of 2006 Ten Year Reunion. Was there even a point? Most of the people that we had graduated with still lived in our hometown, and if they didn’t there was indeed always Facebook. But still, in a stance of support I flew across the country for 5 days to participate in the festivities planned out by classmates I haven’t seen (some of the them) in ten years.

And I must admit…I was pretty damn glad I did.

Leading up to the days of my leaving for my reunion, life was stressful. Everyday there was something that needed to be done, that of course is life but I felt as though I was chasing an ultimate goal, a constant struggle between being busy all the time and actually being productive. My relationship seemed like it was circling a drain, my job was annoying and I found myself counting down the days for a break. I NEEDED a break….I also it turns out needed a really good laugh.

And that is what I did for 5 days, I laughed until I cried everyday..I also ate pizza everyday. But hey it’s Buffalo and in Western New York we don’t judge you based on carb intake. And of course I still have those friends that I see and speak to on a daily basis, best friends for life that I had left behind when I moved to Los Angeles. But when I went to my reunion I couldn’t really tell the difference between those friends and the friends I haven’t seen in years, the jokes were the same, the laughs were deep and hearty. There were also people that I hadn’t spoken to even during our high school years, and I found myself laughing with them too. Time had passed and we had all grown older. On the walls of our High School there would be posters that said “No one will care what you wore in High School” and “No one will care if you were popular or not” they would stare at us as we walked from class to class attached at the hips of our best friends and cliques; always brushing off these statements because we would be popular and best friends forever. But of course those posters were right about us, of course our cliques didn’t matter anymore and everyone was okay with that.

Living in the past for five days allowed me to come back home feeling refreshed and relaxed. It was a weekend of effortless fun. Fun that didn’t need to be thought about or explained. My everyday life is a constant worry about what I need to do, what my goals are, what is due soon, what I want to do. My crazy L.A. life was waiting for me when I got back, my bills are due, my apartment needs to be vacuumed, and the fires are still burning in the mountains. But for five days I forgot about what I needed to do and instead spent time enjoying what I have done.

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Finding Center and Building Strength

Four years ago I was working at a restaurant at the Santa Monica Pier when a guest had left his book at the table. We kept the book behind the bar for at least a week and no one had claimed it.My fellow co workers (knowing me all to well, like a person addicted to rescuing animals, I was addicted to rescuing books). When I came in for my shift the following week, I could only think about the lost book sitting behind the bar waiting for a home. That is a serious statement, I had a dream about that book before I went into work the next day, I take it as an indisputable sign from that dream on. So, I snuck behind the bar and snatched the book from one of the bartender’s buckets.

“I knew you were gunna come in and snatch that book!”

Whatever now the book is mine.

The book, if I haven’t mentioned the title was The Bhagavad-Gita. And I’m not going to lie that book made a home for itself on my every protruding bookshelf for a solid year before I picked it up, but then I did.

I haven’t read the whole thing yet, I read some sections at a time; so I can really think about what the text is saying. I’m must disclose that I am not a religious person at all much to the dismay of my Italian mother & grandmother. And I don’t take the Gita as religious text. I let my eyes take the words in and my brain interpret the meanings as it pleases.

But what I did discover was the practice of Yoga.

And yes, many people start yoga for many different reasons.

But maybe I needed a push; maybe I needed a sign to tell me it’s time to start. Maybe I have a flair for the dramatic.

I started going once a week to get my body better, and to get myself out of the house. Until I found myself in Anthony Benenati’s Hath 1 Yoga class, and then I never wanted to leave.

After practicing yoga for a solid month I noticed the benefits my practice was having on my body. My arms jiggled less, my thighs were always firm and my stomach…well it was getting there. And after a month I pretty much stopped worrying the classic newbie worries one has when they start something new. ‘Am I breathing right? Does the teacher think I suck? My boobs are sweating. How do people sit here for 15 minutes and have a clear mind? I hope I don’t fart. I have to get milk later.’

But I was waiting to feel something, something that connected me to “my practice”. An enlightened moment when I could say, “OMG I am a true YOGI!”

But that doesn’t happen, that’s not realistic. Yoga’s whole philosophy is to take it slow, use props, build your way to a pose from the Earth up.  And I found the belief in my practice that way. When I started yoga not only was my body weak, but so was my spirit, and gradually from the ground up I learned how to build strength.

I have now been practicing yoga for a a few years and I continue to find solace in the hard wooden floor, brick walls and humming ceiling fans.

Essential Friendship & Essential Oils

I haven’t been very open in regards to friendships in the early years of my adult life. It is a hybrid marriage of a strange side effect from depression in my early twenties and the fact that I am just a homebody person by nature. It got very bad, being “blatantly anti-social” my boyfriend called it and I just agreed and continued on. I hid behind the busyness of school work and deflected the fact that I have no social friends because I had work friends and that was enough.

But there was no life.

In an act of triumph against my depression I made one social friend, and he is an awesome friend. Tony will forever be a piece of my life, and has inserted himself as family. It also helped that he could be a homebody himself, and our personalities like all great friendships were not the same but compatible. He was the first step into finding a new version of myself, one that is not awkward and uninviting. It was much easier to be in a social setting with a friend to do this with. You never think about it like that until you literally don’t have a girlfriend to do things with. I should mention that Tony is a gay man and loves himself as I love him just the way his is.  Getting my girl time back allowed me to realize just how much I was missing it. Not only was I able to slowly come out of my shell in my own time, but pushed to break through it as Tony saw fit. Pulling me out of my comfort zone as girlfriends often do, and allowing me to realize things about myself that I didn’t think were issues. For me those issues were being social, and not just being social but actually liking being social.

I carried my progress with me to new jobs and sporatic new acquaintances until setting at a job where I’ve been for a few years now. This job has allowed me to gain more friends that have not been pushed into the “work friends pile” in my social setting. I find myself remembering what it was like to have people to confide in, to laugh with and have inside jokes with. I haven’t had that in such a long time that I had become lost in the secluded world I had created for myself. And it wasn’t easy on their part either, prying into my personal life, creating space for themselves into my daily happenings with the interest that only friends have.

And I unbeknownst to myself I allowed them in.

I slowly but surely found myself in the middle of friendships. Without even trying. That’s what makes it easy doesn’t it? The fact that it is effortless? And I hadn’t realized what happened  until I found myself sitting in an essential oil seminar on a Saturday morning before my work shift. Sitting there allowing a stranger to spray me with Peppermint oil (“for cooling purposes”) I had a friendship epiphany. Not only was I there to support a friend who was holding a class, I was there so my other friend wouldn’t have to sit through an oil seminar alone. I was being a friend to two people at once. I must admit that I blacked out a little during this seminar to really take in what was happening around me. It could have been the oils, it could have been the fact that the Peppermint oil was placed somewhere around my temples and my eyes started watering but I almost lost my composure in front of a stranger and cried at where I had found myself on that Saturday morning. I had found myself being a friend.

Everything that I had been missing with close friendships I had found, but I hadn’t really understood that by doing something for them, I was doing something for myself. If they were friends to me then I had to be a friend back, and I hadn’t been a friend to anyone including myself in a very long time. But that’s the great thing about friends right? You don’t know what they do for you until you actually do something for yourself. You don’t know how cooling Peppermint Oil is until you let a stranger spray you.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Acts 1 & 2 by Jack Thorne: A Review

I cannot deny that I was one of the millions of Harry Potter fans that was ecstatic to hear the news that our messiah J.K. Rowling would grace us with another window in the Wonderful Wizarding World of Harry Potter, with a new story revolving around Harry’s young son Albus.  This new story however, would be portrayed onstage at the Palace Theater in London, information that both excited me and made me want to ugly cry. Knowing I would never be able to see the play live in London and that the chances of me ever really see the play anywhere were slim, I waited with mounting anticipation for the release of the script version written by Jack Thorne. I was so excited that I almost succeeded in talking my friend into attending the release party at my neighborhood Barnes and Noble but do to my lack of coaxing skills, we did not attend.

I didn’t have to wait long however to receive my copy, for my enabler of a boyfriend had a fresh hardcover waiting for me when I got home from my shift the day of it’s release. I obviously took the next day off of work.

I spent my day off laying on my couch flying (pun fully intended) through the pages of dialogue laid before me by Thorne. I was pleasantly greeted with familiar characters with their familiar personalities like seeing old friends again, but could not get over the missing feeling of the whole. The whole world that we as Harry Potter readers are immersed into by Rowling’s descriptions, development and adjectives.

I have to give a small disclaimer, I have recently been using my monthly audible.com credits to listen to the magnificent human being that is Jim Dale tell Harry’s story via audio book. It just so happens that I am almost to the end of Book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which is where the central focus of Cursed Child takes place. It is different listening to Harry’s emotions about competing in Triwizard Tournament as an adult. Now I find myself closing in on Harry’s anxieties and tensions with both himself and his support system. Listening to over 20 hours of Harry’s development to become a champion all while knowing what is to become in the series, Cursed Child felt completely rushed. The major twist within the plot read like fan fiction and I don’t know if this is something to dislike with the story or the prelude to a bigger discussion of what has happened to Harry since the internet has gotten a hold of him. I follow Albus and his friend Scorpious through their adventure through time back and feel like I am being robbed of Albus’s true issue of identity within the story. Albus’s first three years at Hogwarts are a blur of stage production and special effects that when cleared the reader is introduced to a sullen teenager with Daddy issues that seem underdeveloped.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was an anticipated welcome back to friends that I haven’t seen in years but like most friends that I have left behind, I seem to the have changed and our relationship just doesn’t seem the same.