Operation Make New Friends at Yoga

Operation Make New Friends at Yoga

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It’s happened.
My fear has been realized. I am in love with Marc and just as I have
finally come to terms with my feelings, I find out that he has received
a job offer in San Francisco he “simply can’t refuse.”

What am I
to do without him? Over the last few months Marc has become so much
more than my boyfriend, he is my best friend. Now my best friend is
moving away and I will have no one to play with.

Operation Make New Friends

I
ran through all the possible ways to meet new people I could think of:
sign up for my much needed French lessons and kill two birds with one
stone, go back to that acting class and make friends with the lost boy
from Peter Pan or the retro girl who dyes her hair jet-black… I even
made a few phone calls to my friends from home, thinking I might be
able to convince any going through a “Life after College” crisis that
their problem would be solved by moving to Paris.

Several
failed attempts later, and having run up a phone bill I never want to
see, it occurred to me that I have been here before. Junior year of
college, my B.F.A. class was forced to take a yoga class on Friday
mornings. Attendance was mandatory. The faculty cleverly linked our
attendance to our acting grade, otherwise nobody would have shown up
for an 8 a.m. 90- minute session of glorified stretching. Still, the
majority of the class was out partying late Thursday night and on
Friday morning, hung over and sometimes still drunk, Myke Anthony and
Jessica would fight over who got to use the mat closest to the
trashcan. Heather Weeks and I, on neighboring mats in the back of the
room shared a weekly laugh over Myke and Jessica’s agony, despite that
before this she was far from my favorite person in the program, as
she flipped her long blond hair so incessantly that often, when
bored in class I would find myself plotting ways to spike her shampoo
bottle with Nair.

Heather and I
are now best-friends and we owe it all to a much too early Friday
morning yoga class in which we bonded over the misfortunes of others.

Two
years late, living in Paris and desperate for new friends, I Googled
“yoga Paris classes.” I found a studio located in the 9th
arrondissement near Grand Boulevards. Perfect. Only one train change.I
arrive at a pair of enormous green wooden doors at 10:35 on a Saturday
morning. The only part of the web site that I could understand
perfectly (the site’s in French) was the schedule: Saturday 11:00,
15:00 and 18:00. I thought it best to arrive early on my first day to
sign any necessary forms .

I push against the doors but they
do not budge–my sweater however did attract several splinters that
make their way through the fabric; I itch all over. Why won’t the door
open? I realize that there must be a code but I don’t know it and my
French is at the level of a pre-schooler. So even if a code was listed
on the site I wouldn’t have found it.

Thank God! A woman in a
purple head-wrap and sandals arrives and punches in the code. Smiling
at me she pushes open the doors. I say, “Merci,” thinking that maybe
she’ll be my friend, but she ignores me. We walk through a quiet
cobblestone courtyard, and everything is peaceful until the silence is
broken by an annoyed American on a cell phone. A tall brunette comes
into view. She’s leaning against the studio door, which seems to be
locked. She flips the front, highlighted portion of her much too long
hair in a Heather Weeks way…swish, swish. She’s a supermodel.

This is why I don’t go to gyms in Los Angeles—hot skinny girls who flip their hair.

The
woman who ignored my thank you is now dancing in circles behind me. She
waves her arms up and down, bending her knees–it reminds me of an
African tribal dance I learned in the fifth grade. She has tiny
speakers in her ears–she’s listening to music. So it wasn’t that she
ignored me before, she just couldn’t hear me. I’m not sure that I
really want her to be my new best friend anyway because I think it’s
weird that she’s wearing sandals when it’s 2 below. And I know this is
superficial, but I don’t like her dance.

“Ciao,” the supermodel
says, and gets off the phone. She wears the Cartier watch that I have
put on my Christmas list for the last two years, the silver square one
with the Roman numerals. I picture myself on a Sunday morning throwing
on an over-sized button-up collared shirt with jeans and my Cartier
watch, pulling on a baseball cap and heading out to the market.
Everyone thinks that I rolled out of bed and threw on my boyfriend’s
shirt and borrowed his watch…hot.

I catch a glimpse of myself in
the window–un-showered and no make-up…and I’m standing next to a
supermodel. I hear the wooden doors creak open, and a short, skinny
blonde with a brown knit hat pulled low over her eyes approaches with a
set of keys. She greets the supermodel, referring to her as Polly, and
unlocks the door to the studio. All three women immediately sit on a
wooden bench and take off their shoes. There is no room left for me to
sit so I bend over and pull up my jeans to unzip my knee-high black
leather boots. My long black knit scarf hangs in front of my eyes. I
have to keep flipping it back so that I can grab hold of the zipper.

“Ouch!”
the supermodel cries out. She is grabbing her eye–I swooshed her with
my scarf. I apologize. She goes to the front desk behind which the
skinny blonde in the brown knit hat is now standing.I return to my
zipper, but a piece of fringe from my scarf is lodged between the
leather and the metal teeth…it won’t come out. I fasten my fingers
around the piece of fringe tightly and pull.

The next few
moments are a blur. I don’t know how long it took me to tumble to the
ground–it felt like five minutes, but I know that it was probably only
about two seconds. It was not my intention to pull out a clump of the
supermodel’s hair, though later in class that day I would fantasize
about shaving her head when I should have been concentrating on sucking
in my belly, or pulling on my toes.

What I do remember is
grabbing for the towel rack to catch my balance, but my body tilted
backwards, causing my left leg to rise. My right arm, fist opening and
closing trying to grab for something, anything to prevent the fall.
Finally my fist closed around something…

The supermodel and I
are on the ground, intertwined like a pretzel. She is holding the top
of her head and crying. How vain…a few split ends and a bruised bum and
she’s ready to slit her wrists.The blonde with the brown knit cap comes
rushing out from behind the counter; the woman in the purple hair wrap
and sandals, undisturbed, is bobbing her head to the music playing in
her ears. The blonde helps pull the supermodel up off of the floor. I
push my palms against the concrete floor and as I do a clump of brown
hair falls out of my hand. It’s the size of a small hamster. I close my
fist back around the fur ball.

“I am so sorry.” I utter, but the supermodel has disappeared into the women’s dressing area.

I
approach the blonde at the desk, who avoids eye contact. She wants to
know if I speak French and I tell her “un petit peu.” Apparently that’s
no problem since all of the instructors speak English. She gives me
some forms to sign. They’re in French. I let a few minutes pass while I
pretend to read them. I sign my name at the bottom of the contract. The
blonde hands me a towel and a bottle of Evian, and points me in the
direction of the women’s dressing area.

Whew! No supermodel…she
must have already changed. I strip off my winter armor and pull on a
pair of Marc’s boxers and a tank top. I grab my towel, tuckthe bottle
of water under my arm and head into the studio. It’s packed. There are
bodies everywhere, sprawled out on yellow, orange and purple mats. I
have to use a gray one because I rented mine for a Euro. I search for a
window in the mass of bodies where I can put my mat. There’s no room.
Why is it so hot in here?

I stand by the door and wait for the
instructor. I glance at the clock–ten minutes until class begins. I
scope out the students, most of them lying flat on their backs, eyes
closed, palms up. Who wants to be my friend?Well certainly not the
supermodel, who’s lying in the front far-left corner. Probably best to
avoid the two girls in black bikinis situated on either side of
her–they look like supermodels too and probably heard her whole sob
story, and now hate me. Why are they wearing swimsuits?

There’s
a bald man in right center of the room. He’s snoring. This causes the
patch of thick black hair between his collarbones to blow back and
forth. It looks like a ferret is popping its head out of his black
fishnet tee-shirt.I spot three hippie dippys so far who definitely ate
granola for breakfast; two have henna designed palms and the other has
thin brown dreadlocks and a tattooed ankle bracelet. Hmmmmm…anybody…
anybody? Anybody normal? Just a little bit?

“Oh, I am out of breath in this fond chase. The more my prayer the lesser is my grace.”

I’m
nudged forward. Ah, the instructor: I step aside and let him in. He too
is perplexed by the lack of space. He takes a walk around the room and
finally says “Polly (the supermodel), could you please slide your mat
over to the left and make room for one more?”

He’s American.
Shirtless. And really, really hot. Curly sandy-blonde hair and a very
hard set of abs. Wait–I don’t want to sit next to the supermodel! She
rolls her eyes at her friends and moves her mat a quarter of an inch to
the left. Very helpful, thank you so much. Maybe if I go throw up my
breakfast in the bathroom I can fit in the pigeonhole you’ve made for
me.

I squeeze my mat into the space next to Polly. The
instructor smiles at her, but I pretend he’s smiling at me. Jesus it’s
hot. We begin with a breathing exercise. Ten minutes later, I’m trying
to stretch my right leg above my head… Wow, am I red in the face, and
dripping sweat. My hair is soaked and my periwinkle tank top now deep
blue. I might as well be jogging in a sauna.

And then I
realize…I’ve heard of this. My friend Sophie in New York told me about
this Birrac… Bicra… It starts with a “B” and ends with an “M.”
Whatever. It’s basically power yoga in a room heated at a 110 degrees
Fahrenheit. Good God, I think I might die.

My heart is beating a
million times a minute–obviously I should not drink venti black
coffees before boiling my body parts. I have to lie down. How could I
have missed this on the site? Yes, it was in French but I mean you’d
think I would have gotten… Oh, no wonder I had to sign all of those
forms.

Ow, my eye…something’s hit me. What the he… Ew. Ew. Ew. The supermodel’s perspiration is dripping off her abs and into my eye.

I
never made it back off the mat that class. My heart was beating too
fast and my left eye developed a twitch–though I think it was more
psychological then it was a reaction to the supermodel’s sweat. The
perfume the supermodel “accidentally” sprayed in my eye later, when we
were in the dressing room, didn’t help much either.

After class
I took a shower in the changing room—. I didn’t really want to do
because I hate showering in public, but I had to because everyone would
have thought that I’m disgusting if I hadn’t. In middle school, the
kids who didn’t wear deodorant always sat alone on the bus. So, I took
a shower under a schizophrenic shower head, cold one minute, hot the
next. I leaped out mid-shower, naked, performing my “hot, hot, hot”
dance for three supermodels who laughed.

“…Now I perceive they have conjoined all three/ To fashion this false sport in spite of me…”

It
was clear that the supermodel would not be a Heather Weeks for me.
As Polly and her friends were bonding over my misfortunes. On the
metro ride home, Helena’s lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream repeat
over and over in my head: “…I am as ugly as a bear; for beasts that
meet me run away for fear.”

My self-deprecating chant is
interrupted by the faint “meow” of what I thought was a kitten. The man
seated across from me in the Russian fur hat and the pink silk scarf
tied in a bow around his scarred neck is meowing at me. The woman to my
right starts to giggle. I look over and it’s a girl from my yoga class.

Her name is Heidi. She’s Canadian and she just moved here with her husband.

“Give me your hands if we be friends, And Robin shall restore amends.”

We
made plans to see Something’s Gotta Give Friday night. I’ve already
seen it three times, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. So looks like
maybe the yoga thing wasn’t such a bust after all–not to say that I
will be going again. At least not till Polly loses all of her hair and
develops cellulite.


Kirsten
joins Bonjour Paris from Los Angeles, California where she recently
graduated from the University in Southern California with a  BFA
in Acting. Last year Last year she co-wrote the book and lyrics to a
new pop musical which expects to open in Los Angeles next spring. Two
years ago, while studying at a conservatory in London, Kirsten fell in
love with Paris and decided that she was destined to return for some
time. She’s thrilled to experience this dream come true.

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