Shaken, Not Stirred

The tables have turned.

Yesterday morning saw me begrudgingly play the role of my wife’s stiff-legged running partner. Plucked from bed by the ankles in mid-slumber. Pressured to leave the cozy confines of our Queen-sized bed in order to shuffle in the chilly rain for 40 dark minutes.

Today, however, I was the heel grabber, not the heel grabbee. Grabbed the bull by the horns, you might say. And somehow, like yesterday, when our roles were reversed, I’m reasonably confident that things worked out well.

Before kids (at the turn of the century), Hilary and I were regular devotees of Bikram Yoga. Eighteen years ago, we would eagerly sweat our way through 26 “poses” intended to pretzel ones limbs in a stifling room, with an ambient air temperature not far removed from our toaster oven’s “broil” setting. It sounds awful, and it is actually worse than it sounds. At least until you settle in and get yourself accustomed to the overheated misery over the course of many sessions. One of my fondest memories of my wife involves witnessing her standing in “Balancing Stick” pose with her 9 month-old pregnant belly protruding proudly (the human we would later meet, called “Max,” was in there somewhere). She looked like a freakin’ warrior, and I was in awe. (As I said just yesterday, she is tough.)

But in the ensuing years, two kids and a mortgage and law firms and start ups and a puppy and slowed metabolisms and pre-arthritic toe knuckles and friends and loved ones coming and going and all of the rest of normal life conspired to keep Hil and me out of the yoga studio.

I missed it.

So this New Year, with some newfound free time due to one child being away at boarding school, I resolved to take a crack at revisiting this small piece of our former lives. Unbeknownst to Hilary, I signed us up for a month of Bikram. I handed her the gift certificate on Christmas Morning, feeling very proud of myself. At the time, we were far away from home with a gaggle of family, so I didn’t think to loop back around afterwards to confirm that my gift was as well-received as it was well-intentioned. I simply assumed that, once again, the “World’s Best Husband” statuette would stand firmly on my bedroom bureau for yet another year. Sigh.

This morning marked the appointed Bikram Day One. I awoke fired up. I assumed we were both fired up. Then I noticed immediately that my enthusiasm was mine alone. Out of the blue, Hilary started giving currency to a litany of (objectively reasonable) excuses. I know about excuses. She was trying to weasel out of Bikram, I realized.

But there would be no weaseling.

Yes, our 12 year-old would be home alone for nearly three hours. Yes, this likely violates one or more criminal statutes regarding child neglect. Yes, our dog is whimpering from some inexplicable, circular chunk mysteriously missing from her hindquarters since yesterday. Yes, it is possible that one explanation for the Silver Dollar Chunk was inattentive driveway driving on my part. Yes, we are at least 16 years older than the last time we twisted ourselves up into sweaty balls among two dozen strangers.

Still, all of this paled in comparison to the angelic vision of my 103-degree wife in Full Locust Pose that I hoped to rekindle. So, against the better judgment of perhaps anyone not named “Keir,” I insisted that we press on.

And off we went.

It was hot. It was hard. My bouts of dizziness verged on passing out more than once. I caught my own eyes unintentionally cross-eyed in the mirror a half-dozen times. But I did manage to sneak a quick glimpse or two at Hilary; spied her face set with intensity and mettle, completely oblivious to my voyeurism. I saw my warrior again. Maybe she saw her warrior too.

Perhaps a better husband would have cut his wife some slack. Let her off the hook this morning. For sure, we will both be terribly sore along our rib cages and such for several days. And our 12 year-old came very close to dialing up Child Services during our absence, assuaged only when we agreed to make him syrupy pancakes for breakfast. And our dog ended up with an unscheduled vet appointment. There she earned an unwanted new accoutrement reminiscent of an adult beverage at cocktail hour (see above photo; see above blog title).

Nevertheless, well worth it, in my view. To travel back in time nearly two decades, recapturing at least a sliver of our younger selves. And maybe setting in motion something old yet new that we can both enjoy together once or twice a week now in the New Year, and perhaps beyond. On the other hand, I may have to wait another 16 years to see my warrior again. I suppose I’m good with either scenario.

Thanks for reading.

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