The workshop flier said, “Yoga for Women”, and I thought, this workshop could go one of several ways:
· The teacher could be a tight-bodied Lululemon model in fuchsia lipstick and eyeliner, who played acid jazz and dubstep to our vinyasas. She could try to bend us into crazy positions and coach us to use our feminine Shakti to make ourselves hotter, more luscious beings (presumably in order to snag or keep some man);
· Or, she could be an “Earth Mother” with hairy legs and no sense of humor, who told us to do malasana over a mirror to look at our yonis, and who would coach us to breathe through our vaginas and smile at our uteruses.
Each week at my Unitarian Universalist church, the minister shares a “Story for All Ages.” This is the time that my daughter and the other children move to the front of the Great Hall to see the pictures and I let my head drop onto my wife’s shoulder at the exhale of another long week.
A few Sundays ago, the minister told a story about a man who’d passed on from this life and was given the choice to be reincarnated as any creature he wished. He observed animals of the earth, sea and sky before his eyes lit on the humans. “I want to be that kind of creature,” he said. “They are so beautiful.”
That observation penetrated my Sunday morning sleepiness. At best, I’m inclined to think of the human animal as ridiculously adorable—more baby hedgehog than magnificent peacock. I tend toward a functional, “feed-the-machine” perspective, celebrating the corporeal capacity for doing. I practice gratitude for my body’s gifts: sensuality and sexuality, movement, strength, and power; and more than anything, the child that grew inside me. But beautiful?
Navigating Spirituality in a Relationship
This story was originally published as a 2nd Story performance piece, 2011
On a weekend morning in January, a few years ago, I was lying in bed with Jess. Jess and I had just started sleeping together, and we had woken up in my apartment in Edgewater.
The winter sunlight poured in through my windows and lit up the bedroom in golden light. Jess’s long brown legs were tangled up with the sheets, my fingers in the locks of her hair, and we were cozy amongst the pillows and blankets, talking about, well, “everything” and “nothing”, the kind of conversations you have with a new lover. We talked about where we grew up, our favorite stuffed animals from childhood, and if we ever sang to the mirror in our underwear as teenagers, or as adults.
Then she asked me, shyly, the kind of question you only ask when you are really comfortable and safe with someone. She turned in bed so that she could face me, and she asked, “CP, do you believe in God?”
Celebrating the Choice to Be Wild and Free
The first time I saw a woman with body hair, I was thirteen. She was my teacher for a summer creative writing class. As she stretched her arms above her head, I was transfixed by her curly black hairs. After that, I waited for her to do it again, because, wow, I’d never seen a woman with armpit hair before. Every so often, I’d sneak a peek at her leg hair. I thought I was being casual enough about it, but now that others pull the same move on me, I realize how obvious I must have been. She knew I was looking, the same way I know when others are looking at me.