Looking forward and looking back: Ten years after my wedding

I unfurl my mat on a patch of grass of my backyard under pressing dusk. I’m making an effort to do more activities that nourish me and realize I’ve gotten out of the habit of a physical asana practice. My body asks for backbends and I am happy to oblige, turning my gaze up at the swiftly shifting sky as I breath and move stagnant muscles. Seagulls fall sideways, glazing effortlessly in currents above. Just before savasana, the first two stars poke through the blanket of light that is the sky, blazing courageously. I love watching the stars come out after sunset. I love seeing the sky transformed by Divine Mother’s jewels.

To celebrate what would have been my tenth wedding anniversary, I’m taking myself to a yoga retreat centre this weekend. The retreat I’ll be participating in is centered on kirtan and cooking—something I love and something I want to learn how to prioritize in my life. I’m going to spend time reflecting on that part of my history and the lessons I’ve learned.

Whenever I think of my marriage, I invariably think about its end. I remember the first few weeks of separation, borrowing my brother’s car and going on trips alone. It was the first time I did things like that by myself. Day hikes in Waterton’s Rocky Mountains, camping in the sacred Writing-on-Stone Park—I was learning about the person I was on my own and what it was like to spend time with her.

One evening on the sandy shore of the Milk River, I lay down on my back and looked up at the sky. Light blue faded to dark as the water churned swiftly beyond my feet. It started small; I saw one or two stars popping out and eventually began looking for more. Soon stars in the shapes of familiar constellations formed. I saw blinking flashes making up the Big Dipper, and by the time my eyes searched for Cassiopeia and came back, each star of the Bear was shining bright. I looked for more. They came. I couldn’t count them all.

It wasn’t even spring, it was cold and too early for camping. I slept in the car wrapped in blankets, doing my best to keep out the chill that invades a body still learning to sleep with only its own warmth.

I remember the space of those trips. I remember how the silence made a soft bed for my thoughts to rest in. I’d finally spoken what I’d needed so much to be spoken—I was alone, left with my confused mix of grief and relief, and could be quiet now.

Maybe those trips hinted a foreshadowing that I could not yet see, that one day I would know myself enough and fill with the courage to move across the country alone, and eventually another hemisphere. Maybe they were like stars revealing themselves after dusk.

I cut my savasana short amid an orchestra of buzzing mosquitos. Not everything that comes out after dusk is as awe-inspiring as the stars.

I’m excited to see what comes of the weekend, if only to sing kirtan, eat great food and spend time with amazing people.

Happy ten-years.

Cuba 350

Couldn’t find any wedding photos on this computer so here’s some from a couple previous anniversary trips. Cuba, year four.

The Trip 1007

Petra, Jordan. Year three

The Trip 1092

And this one because of its epicness. I’m the little speck trying to get in the door.

Picture 125

Hiding in the frozen foliage. Fairmont Hotsprings, year two.

Picture 115.jpg

There I am!

Picture 187

Apparently I used to take selfies. You can tell I was trying to be fancy because I straightened my hair. Driving to Calgary, year one.

Advertisements

Light

20160111_144820

One of an endless amount of footpaths winding up and down the hills of Nelson

Fresh sunlight reaches sideways over the tree-filled mountains into my eyes. The days are getting shorter. The light is lower than is used to be at the early hour I bike down the hill to work.

Later, I’ll pedal home and the sun will have made its swift track around the sky. Now my path is shaded over. I am freed of the burden of the sun’s intensity by friendly, leafy trees. The mountains around me are tall. Not too tall, but tall because some days I dip my toes in the sea and they lift out of that, starting at zero and rising, rising up to give me a view of the whole city from my front porch.

Since moving into my sleepout—a room in the garden of a woman’s house with shared kitchen and bath inside—what I’ve noticed most is the light. Rays ricochet off my bedframe from the overhead light and splay across the walls. I’m startled by the sparkling array of diamonds encrusted on the bathroom sink until my head covers them in mysterious shadow and they disappear.

When I first stepped inside this house I knew I’d live here. Coming over to look at the room for rent, I knocked and entered only to find a statue of Tara, the Tibetan Goddess of compassion stepping out of her meditation to greet me. My landlady Gael led me through to the back garden, which houses my room. As we passed through the main house, a large wooden Ganesh carving looked down at me from its focal point in the living room and Nataraj—Siva dancing the world into existence surrounded by a ring of fire—punctuated the half wall between the kitchen and living room. I knew I was home.

20160111_144330

Down one hill and up another—a view close to my house

20160111_152710

Tahunanui Beach

I work long hours and some days take leisurely swims in the river after work. On days off I might walk over a couple of hills and find the beach, a long stretch of spit that can be full of people yet make me feel so small because there’s space for all of us in the soft, pliable sand. I stand against the ocean, feeling connected to every shore and shark on earth.

I go to kirtans and yoga with workmates. I spend most of my money on upcoming yoga retreats. I plan for the future and spend some time each day with my awareness in my body and on my breath and not the running thoughts in my mind. It tingles then. My body—shimmering with consciousness—happy to be thought of by my mind.

When I’m tired, I prepare for bed. Often, I take a few side steps out from under the covered back porch where my bedroom door leads me. Up a few stairs toward the apricot tree, already loosed of its harvest, I can see the stars. I’ll look up at them for a time and then lay my body down and rest, ready for the next day’s light.