After a combination of complaining online and driving myself up the wall again and again a hundred times like a crazed chihuahua, I did a handstand!! Six, in fact. And I’m fairly sure the next one will take fewer attempts. I’m so stoked!
My legs hurt. All of them. From my creaking hip joints to my knees which cry out in pain whenever I sit down on a chair or get up, to my overstrained calves, to the toe I stubbed hard on the floor yesterday. It’s all because of capoeira. Mind, this is not the post where I dramatically announce that I am giving up because it’s too hard. There’s no going back after I got those fancy new sweatpants the other day. However, it is too hard. The classes leave me battered and hurting in places I thought could only hurt if I joined the army. During class, I’m hardly ever not dizzy or gasping for air. Well, maybe during the final stretch, where I’m standing on the edge of the roda immobilized with fear of going in and actually putting what I’ve been practising to some real use.
The most important thing I have learned so far is not to push myself or to discover my limitations and learn to circumvent them. What I’ve learned is that I am very, very weak, and very, very soft, and capable of very, very little physically. And also, I have discovered anew the thing that this one woman on this one blog put so extremely well:
There are so many ways of saying it (plump, heavy, chubby, overweight, curvy, huggable, geared for childbirth even), but why bother? I feel like Fatty McLarderson, and every time I come to class I’m reminded of every single extra kilogram or centimetre that I’m lugging around on my stupid childbearing hips, because I need to lift all of it up in the air or swing it around, or do push ups with it. Even if I could only do three push ups a month ago, and can do twenty now. Even if some of those initial centimetres are gone. Even if my form in the basic movements has improved, and sometimes when the instructor comes up to us as we’re practising in pairs, it’s not me he is coming to talk to. Even if I’ve introduced strict rules of exercising every day of the week, and only break them every so often (I’ll do some of it as soon as I’m done writing, I swear). I’m still somewhere in the vicinity of square one.
I’m only writing this post, which is very much in the style of this blog two years ago, and much less appropriate now, to remind myself where I stand (incidentally, that headstand has been evading me ever since I bragged about it). To remember that I will go on, and I will practice, and I will see a doctor about those knees, and I will drag myself to the other end of town four times a week for class, but there’s a solid chance I’ll never be good at it.
Yeah I’m here, who said I wasn’t.
This has been a month of firsts for me. A. and I trekked to Cairo from Jerusalem. As we were shuddering through our five-hour ride in a speeding van in the dark desert, it suddenly struck us that it was not just a new city we were about to experience, and not merely a new country. In fact, it was an entire continent. The word “Africa” had always seemed so distant. Actually, it still does. And yet we were a train ride away from Chad or Niger, places hitherto synonymous with “unreachable”, and therefore “unreal”. As was the entire experience. We were sitting in the back of a van full of sleeping Egyptians, having a whispered argument about the Suez channel and whether we’d crossed it or not. Later, we found out we had.
We were there just before the current tumultuous events, by the way, and might have been among the last people to see Meseti’s beautiful wooden boat intact. The toy world found on Meseti’s sarcophagus, with the wooden models still wearing scraps of fabric for skirts as they went about their toy lives, was one of the things to leave the most profound impression on me. Funny how some things get at you. When they said there were people injured, even dead, I was, for want of a better word, concerned. But when this boat appeared in the news, broken, I cried. Suddenly, it became so very real to me that some kind of a world was crashing down.
Before that, for the first time in my life (that I can recall at least), I went to the Israel Museum. We didn’t spend too much time there, due to my embarrassingly short attention span and the sheer visual overload that the place inflicts on an unsuspecting citizen. However, we did see some awfully old and/or beautiful things. Including some sandal nails from some time B.C. Let me reiterate: funny how some things get at you. Small things. These are the nails that held someone’s shoes together, as he or she walked this land two millennia ago. These are the dried-up dates someone neglected to eat at dinner. 2,000 years ago. “Eat your dates,” said his or her mother then in a language I can speak now, “They’re healthy.”
Having returned from two weeks of intensive travel, I felt overcome by sluggishness. The snow, the early darkness, the thick clothing and clunky shoes, the freezing office were all extremely conducive to going home at 7 pm feeling like the day was over and spending five hours with the computer. So at some point I begged my brother for help and he graciously agreed to walk me by the hand to his capoeira class. The first time was last Monday. Last Wednesday I did a headstand. On my head. Using my hands for support. To support the bits of my body that weren’t supported by my head. This, obviously, was not something I’d anticipated doing. Not to worry, I’ve not been brilliant with the rest of it. Still. A month of firsts indeed.
For some reason, this post is begging for an ending that may seem a bit of a non-sequitur, but follows the rest perfectly in my head. Today I learned, or remembered, that Buddy Holly died at twenty-three. After which, I listened to “That’ll be the day” several times, thinking, I’m twenty-four. Twenty-four and a half this past January. It’s 2011. And there still are things in the world for me to do for the first time.