The child running across the wooden floor in the apartment above wakes me. I was awake until after 3am again. Can these four hour sleeps just please stop?
But I’m still glad of the wake up because I needed to start work early.
I am feeling tired and a little run down. But still nourished. Although I feel like I’m getting further and further behind with replying to messages.
I think of the book that I have carried from Queens to Midtown. The book that I will be carrying to the retreat. The book that I need to actually open and read.
I am trying to write. And pack. He messages to ask if I can use my discretion with the information he’s about to give me. She messages to say they need to come over again.
My stomach is cramping and I look like a ghost.
I take a couple of bags from one apartment and head to the other. I am trying to work out what I will need for one night at home. What I will need for the retreat. What I will need when I come back here.
What do I need?
I keep getting pulled back by the music. It’s always the music of me and her. Of us. And I wonder if she ever listens to it too.
I think back to yesterday. When I tried to stick to small talk and safe subjects. How much awkwardness can fit into twenty minutes.
I hope this weekend isn’t awkward.
My own bed. For one night only. It sounds like an event. Guest starring me.
No sleep. No sleep. No sleep.
I’m packing again. I remember the casual/professional attire part of the email as I add my jeans to the case. I detest dress codes and I rarely observe them.
Why does it matter what I wear anyway? Who is assessing me?
Penn Station is a hub of heartbreak. I have never been here without seeing people who seem to be struggling with serious hardship.
I have to walk through three carriages with my bags before I can get a seat. Or at least, a solo seat.
The Hudson is glimmering before me. I feel something resembling ease settling into me. But I also feel resistance. I want this. I don’t want this.
The book sits closed in front of me. There is too much chatter around me for me to focus.
And I want to keep looking at the water.
I see her on the train as I am walking to the exit. We are collected by car. The journey feels shorter than last time.
There are some familiar faces and some new ones. I find myself blurting out to two people that I wasn’t sure I was coming. Even as I am saying the words I am telling myself to shut up. But I say them anyway.
Everyone at my table seems really chilled and zen. I feel like I am talking too much, too fast.
But I am here. And this is me.
Some sleep, but not enough. My eyes are red.
I wake in time for the morning movement wake up session and meditation. But I don’t go. I remember last year I was racing to get to every session on time. And I don’t think that a retreat is about racing.
Plus, my head is raging. So I’m taking what I need. I cannot deliver the work I do to other women unless I am living in alignment with my own words. I cannot speak of courage and then hide from my own needs.
Sometimes it’s the courage to say yes. Sometimes it’s the courage to say no.
We are going around the circle. I think there are sixty of us? Each of us is speaking into a microphone about the intention we chose for this retreat.
I tell the room what I wrote as my intention. But then I tell them that what I really want to say is that I didn’t know if I wanted to come. I tell them I don’t often enjoy groups. That I always feel other.
I keep speaking. I am telling them that I probably don’t pray like they do. Or meditate the same way. I don’t use the word God. I say that it was important for me to show up in my own skin, speaking my own truth, to be accepted for myself.
During the morning five people come up to me and thank me for sharing my truth. For being honest about my conflict and resistance. They were feeling the same. I would not have guessed this.
It is not the same as last year. I am not the same as last year
We are speaking in whispers. I am telling her it’s ok. I have not seen this vulnerability in her before and I want to hold space for her.
We are doubled over with laughter. I can barely speak the words. She is wiping her eyes. This moment is everything. This is medicine. And I almost didn’t take it. But somehow that would have been ok too. Medicine comes in different forms.