Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thoughts after a yoga class

It is not for the strangers who have told me
that the icecream I eat in public
will go straight to my hips. Or the
old man at a train station
who told me
     just the other day
that I should exercise instead of
standing still on an escalator.

It is not so I can
get a better summer body
in just thirty days for
one easy payment of -
      My body is FINE

It is not for the man who
got aroused when he discovered
I could do the splits while I was drunk
and later wouldn't pay attention
when I tried to move out
from underneath him, until I pushed. Or the
one who said - before he'd even met me
that he would pay
anything to watch me do it.

It is not for the men who think
my dancing is for their titillation, not for
the ones who like to watch. It is not
to emphasise the way my waist
curves into my hip so that men
can want me harder and straight-waisted women can 
throw their acid envy in my face.

It is not for the people
who can only compliment me
about my body when I have whittled
down my flesh to less
than it was
when we last met.

I go to yoga to find the peace of mind that this world so often steals from me.

I go to yoga for the sensation of breathing in time
with a room full of strangers
in a city where there are so many people that they cannot even see me

I go to yoga to discover with childlike delight and entirely 
adult pride that my body can do things I did not know a body could do.

I go to to yoga to remember that my body feels good to live in.

To remember that my body is entirely mine.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to open a closed book

Don't tell me I'm too serious, that I need to have more fun. Don't shame me into trying to change, to be different to what I am.

Show me.

Share it with me.

Take me dancing until our breath runs away from us... then we'll chase it down and start again.

Let's buy popping candy buried in chocolate and eat it all, listening to the sound of rain exploding in our mouths.

Talk to me with irresistible curiosity, ask the questions that no-one has asked me before. Savour the answers.

Take me walking under the full moon, with our hands touching and tenderness in your eyes.

Show me the funniest movie you know and hold your hands lightly on my ribs while I shake with laughter.

Kiss me out of my moods and dive with me into small happinesses.... the sun on bare arms and the smell before a summer storm.

Let me rest when the world gets too much. Watch me sleeping because you can't help yourself.

Show me what it means.

Share this with me.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A minute in the life of a HSP: nightclub

A man may throw his arm around me in a nightclub, and I will be paralysed with indecision for a few moments. There is so much to observe in those few seconds, and it takes time to process.

There will be the way he smells, and not just the dominant scent he's chosen to spritz himself with... there are so many to notice with that kind of proximity to another person. His cologne will probably be first, the smell of his drink on his breath, and cigarettes if he smokes them (no matter how much gum he has chewed to try to cover it up – I can smell that too). Then an undertone of sweat, a trace of his shampoo, his underlying body odour. What he washes his clothes with, what he has had on his hands during the day. And then for each scent that I catalogue, reactions that I cannot catch, human chemistry doing what it does. At best I can perhaps note whether I like it or not.

Then there's the pressure and warmth of his arm, where he chooses to place his hand (does he flop it over the top of my arm, or curl it around towards my breast? What is he trying to communicate?).  Whether his armpit connects with my shoulder or not, what my shirt will smell like when he moves away, whether any part of his arm is touching my bare skin.

My body reacting to being touched – usually for the first time in quite a while. It usually startles me. The sensation of my heartbeat accelerating, the quiver in my stomach, the warm twitch in my groin, my posture softening to accommodate the weight of another body, my skin crawling or raising goosebumps or warming under his flesh.

The feeling of the intention behind the touch. The differences between I-want-to-take-you-away-and-plunge-myself-into-your-body and I-am-touching-you-because-I-think-you-were-asking-for-it-with-the-way-you-dance. Or I'm-just-drunk-and-have-lost-my-sense-of-appropriate-personal-boundaries. All very different to excuse-me-you're-in-my-way-stop-dancing-for-a-second-and-let-me-through. 

The reactions of the people around me. The friends wondering why I'm still standing there with this man draped over me when they can clearly see he's a waste of time. The other men waiting to see how I'll react so they know how they can approach me when they have a go.

And all of this sometimes before I've even seen him, before I've had a chance to take in anything about this person. Before I've seen his face. Before I've been able to make the choice about whether I want this person to touch me, and then whether I want to do anything about it. And then what it means, not just for me, but the meaning this stranger will attribute to my choice, my behaviour.

The quiet question of danger, of whether I'll be able to convince him that I mean no, of whether he might try to take something from me that I don't want to give. The constant feeling of being prey, of the only choice being to accept or reject what is offered to me. That my choice is to be here and to subject myself to this peculiar intimacy with people I don't know, and to learn the myriad unspoken rules as best I can... or to go home, to not dance, to not raise my eyes to the twirling lights on the ceiling, to not spend time trying to fit my social oddities into the rituals of others.

I question my own motives. I will wonder if I really am here just to dance and spend time with people I am trying to make my friends. Or, if I know the nature of these places, the nature of what happens here, and I go in willingly, am I inviting it? Am I placing myself in the path of temptation? Do I enjoy the attention more than it repulses me?

Eventually I will push him away, pick up my drink and settle my nerves again. I'll return to dancing with my elbows swinging around me or huddle closer to my companions. And no-one will be the wiser about what has happened in that one chaotic minute.