Last night Gregory came home from work and I skipped out for a quick gallop around the Bay Run. Well…in my mind it was going to be a quick gallop, in reality it was more of a slow plod because I’m 38, had my third kid 15 weeks ago and my hips and knees are ruined from a lifetime of running and dance.
I know if I was consistent with my Yoga practice, running would be a lot easier, but Yoga is hard for people like me. And I’m not talking about my flexibility, which is rubbish, I’m talking about my inability to stay focused on the task at hand. Not once have I found my zen in downward dog – I can’t help myself, I’m too distracted by my chipped toenail polish, the bloke next to me who’s sweat beads are ricocheting off his mat and onto mine (gross) and the lady up the front who does tiny little squeaky farts all class long and never acknowledges them. To be fair, how would you handle that? I mean you’ve only got two options – feign total ignorance or own it and no one wants to own a fart.
But I digress.
There I was chugging along, keeping time to ‘Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist’ from the Avenue Q soundtrack when something far worse than someone else’s fart distracted me from finding my zen.
The close runner.
Worse than the close talker, these are the people who sneak up behind you and stay there, destroying your tranquility with their flat-footed thudding and heavy, wet breathing.
Here are the rules about running. If I’m ahead of you, the onus is on you to find some distance between us. I was there first. Either you speed up, overtake me and run on, or you stop and tie your shoelaces. Running up behind me and staying there like a weirdo is not an option.
Running is my timeout. Always has been, always will be…providing my hips don’t give up on me. I need it. To think, to create, to problem solve, to worry. Sometimes I make up scenes in the musical I’m writing in my head, or imagine my life if I were incredibly, stinkingly wealthy. Often I’ll write this blog or worry about getting sick and not being there for my family…because I am slightly unhinged and indulge the dark thoughts far more often than I should. Probably wouldn’t happen if I did more yoga of course, but instead I perform a mental sun salutation and chase those thoughts from my brain with a legitimate worry about either the restaurant or the bar – there’s always plenty of material there.
I feel very fortunate to live so close to such a spectacular place to run. It’s incredibly calming, even after the thrashing it took during Friday night’s storms. They were wild. Unfortunately I was stuck in the car with all 3 of my offspring while we waited it out, so I was experiencing my own little storm, but the NRMA said it was basically a mini tornado. I know this because one of my poor friends ended up with someone else’s roof on their house and now have no house of their own until their saggy ceiling is replaced. The $10 food-scraps bin they had in the backyard didn’t move an inch and the heritage listed hills-hoist that falls over if a feather hits it, also didn’t move, but after it was over, trees blocked streets, retaining walls had collapsed, windows were smashed and belongings destroyed.
And then the modern day, inner-west bush telegraph kicked into hyperdrive.
The radio waves were buzzing while our text messages flew, checking in on everyone in the community and making sure everyone was safe. I tell you, it felt good to belong.
(I didn’t actually help anyone, I should declare, and was actually texting from the comfort of my living room couch, but I was fully prepared to if I’d needed to).
I know this is actually what life’s all about.
Not mini tornados or sitting on the couch, but relationships.
We went to a friend’s soft opening of their new bar last night and it was so exciting to share in their adrenalin, tell them of our enthusiasm for their creativity and courage, and offer our support should they ever need it. These are our people – hospo folk who like making things with their hands and have taken a punt that may or may not pay off. We get them, it’s how we think too.
Again, it felt good to belong.
Q nearly bored me to tears with her home reader tonight – a comprehensive treatise on how bread is made, from growing the grain through to the finished loaf. I tell you, it took so long I could have baked my own bread while she was telling me all about it.
If you’re an aspiring writer, I’m thinking home-readers are an untapped market. So far, Q and her friends have read such gems as ‘Flop has died’ – about a dead cat, Aesop’s fables retold for 6 year-olds and some story where the mum goes on a diet.
Home readers are a special kind of hell if you don’t time the reading of them correctly. Too close after school and Q resents the infiltration into her playtime, too close to dinner and she’s too hungry to think, too close to the bath and I can’t get her to focus, too close to bed and she’s too tired to think. There is really only a window of about 7 minutes for successful reading time, which is usually also when Kit wants a feed and The Mitz has done a nudie run up the street. It is very hard to prioritise my eldest child’s education over my youngest’s need to survive and my middle’s need to search and destroy.
Tonight, however, I got those 7 minutes just right, and I sat there, squashed on the couch, Kit in my lap and Q by my side while Gregory (who had snuck home from work) was upstairs on the bunk bed doing craft with Edie. These people are my family.
It feels so good to belong.
2017 has an air of nervousness about it. At least in our industry it seems to. People are still taking risks, opening new venues, trying new things, but there’s also a lot of discussion about consolidating and strengthening the businesses we have, diversifying our incomes, and strategy planning for the future because we all know that working these hours on our feet in 20 years time is really going to hurt the bunions. We see each other at industry events or the rare social gathering that we all move mountains to attend because none of us get to see each other often enough, and we talk in hushed tones about labour costs and increased rents and the economic uncertainty that’s been stirred up since that muppet in the states got into power. We offer each other suggestions and support, swap contacts and share stories.
Five years ago none of these people were in my life. I was newly returned from the states, with a 14 month old and a foreign husband. Apart from tending bar at the old Trades Hall Inn on Goulburn Street to help pay my way through uni, I knew nothing of the Sydney hospitality scene and Gregory knew even less. Then we opened a joint in a nondescript building opposite a petrol station with no parking in sight and met the most incredible collection of people, many of whom we now consider our true, dear friends.
Last year Q had only just started her education journey and we were still trying to nail crunch and sip. Twelve months on, and the (mostly) mums I’ve met because of her, have become a gang of clever, articulate, caring, striving, always trying, generally laughing ladies who I rely on for advice, encouragement, a good laugh and a big hug, as we drag ourselves and each other through this parenting malarkey.
Standing tree pose might do it for some, but give me a connection with someone else, let me find an affinity with people through a shared experience or understanding and I’ll find my zen.
Relationships. Yoga for the heart.