28 March 2017

I do not yoga (I do Mexico)

I do not yoga, as we know, but somehow I found myself signed up for a yoga retreat in Mexico.

Re. Mexico: I also never really had Mexico on my radar for travel purposes. It's so close to the States, and so many people go on vacation there, and I tend to want to go further afield for my adventures, so I wrote it off. I mean, I figured I would end up there someday, because it's next door, but it wasn't on the list of places to go because, well, it's close.

I loved Mexico. We stayed at a little resort at one end of a beach that had a park in the middle and a town on the other end, where foreign tourists sat drinking margaritas at the beachside bars and Mexican families played in the surf. 

"I forgot how much I love riding in the back seat of a crappy taxi through a new country while the driver plays pop music way too loud," I texted T. 

The days were warm and clear, except when it poured down tropical rain. 

J. and I played in the Pacific Ocean waves like kids. The only person who played in the waves as much as we did was 12 years old. We skipped yoga class to jump over and through waves. The other J., the 12 year old, taught us to angle into the waves so that we launched out the other side like dolphins leaping above the water, and we compared how successful our launches were after nearly every wave. 

We went scuba diving along the edge of a rocky island, with battered gear and three older people, two of whom flailed even more than I do, beginner that I am. On the first dive, I bit off the edge of my mouthpiece and had to hold the regulator in my mouth with my hand. My depth gauge didn't work. On the second dive, my mask kept fogging up. But M., my diving instructor, taught us to deal with those eventualities, and I was fine. 

We saw a cornetfish lingering motionless in the water, and schools of thousands of fish swam between us and the light. We swam down through a tunnel in the rock. 

On the way out to diving, we saw a whale breach, and on the boat ride back, dolphins swam under the  boat. 

There was yoga. We did yoga from 7-9 am and from 4:30 to 6 pm. 

"Set your intention for the week," said the instructor peacefully the first day.

"My intention is not to kill anyone while doing yoga this week," I thought to myself. 

I managed that just fine the first day or two, so by day three I thought I was ready for more. I upgraded my intention.

"Don't hate everyone while doing yoga," I thought. That one didn't work - halfway through the class, I wanted to cry or quit - so I went back to resolving not to kill anyone. Turns out I'm pretty okay at not killing anyone while doing yoga. I am less okay at not hating the world while doing yoga. 

I survived six days of yoga, although, to be honest, I was down to one class per day for the last three days. 3.5 hours of yoga a day is a little excessive for a beginner. I did a shoulder-stand thing, though. (My neck has been bothering me, so no attempts at a headstand.) J. did headstands galore. 

Between yoga and eating and playing on the beach and taking a few naps (they made me get up at 6:15 am. On vacation. There were naps), a week flew by.

I quite like Mexico. I'd like to go back. 

I don't know about the yoga, though. Maybe. I've gone to a couple of classes since I've been back. (Shhhhhhh. Don't tell anyone.)

24 March 2017


"I love your glasses!" people keep saying to me, and I say, "Yeah, I like how they look, but I can't see through them at all." 

I started wearing them the day after we got back from Mexico. I made up my mind that the day we got back from Mexico would be the last day I wore contacts, and so when I took out my contacts after flying all day, I put the case in the cupboard in the bathroom and put my glasses case on the nightstand.

I have worn contacts for 21 years. 

I have worn them in the muck of a South Sudan rainy season, when I had to put them in before I could crawl out of my mosquito net, because I had to be able to see if there was a poisonous spider or snake in my gum boots. 

I have worn them in the dust of the desert in State of Happiness, where I had fine granules of blown-dry clay on my hands that I couldn't get rid of, so I had to blink the grit off my eye before I could see clearly.

I have worn them through the fine blown dirt of roads in Rwanda and Liberia and Kenya and Tanzania and Honduras and Cambodia, always finding a bottle of water to clean off my dirty hands first thing in the morning. 

I have kept them warm in my pocket in a freezing tent, put them cold into my eyes at 3 am after 5 hours of sleep before climbing a mountain, washed my hands with sanitizer before rinsing in water. 

I have put them burning into my eye when the hydrogen peroxide solution wasn't fully dissolved. 

For 21 years, I wore contacts an average of 365 days a year. I never had an eye infection, so I occasionally tried a pair of glasses - I got a pair in 2006, and one in 2016 - and wore them for half a day, or even a day, and then went back to contacts. 

T. used to laugh, because for many years I always had a bottle of the same kind of multi-purpose solution, the one from the store in the Mitten. 

Meanwhile, for 20 years, eye doctors have told me that I would get used to my glasses if I would just wear them more. If I just kept trying, if I wore them for a day or two or three, my eyes would adjust. The prescription was right; I just wasn't patient enough. 

This is a blatant lie. I've been wearing glasses for almost four weeks (tomorrow will be Day 28), and I am not used to them. 

I'm better at wearing them. I've figured out how to keep them clean. I've figured out how to look right through the middle if I need to see something clearly. 

I haven't figured out how to keep them from hurting the back of my ears, no matter how they are adjusted.

My phone isn't a rectangle when I look down at it. 

I feel dizzy when I walk down stairs - I can't quite tell where the steps are. 

I have to leave extra space in traffic, because I can't tell how far away the car in front of me is. 

When I take off my glasses and put them back on, I still feel disoriented and unsteady, even four weeks in. By the end of the day, my eyes ache from trying to find a way to see clearly and my head hurts from trying to make sense of what comes into my eyes. 

This whole month feels like a dream, fuzzy around the edges, because I couldn't really see what was happening. 

I have a list in the back of my journal, a countdown. I'm crossing off days. There are five of them left. Five days of glasses. SaturdaySundayMondayTuesdayWednesday. And only two of them involve staring at a computer. 

So close.

Next Thursday, I'm getting lasik.