There are those who say that once we get far enough in our journey, we'll know everything we need to know from a deep awareness of our own experience...
Elaine St. James
Life is a continuous succession of present moments.
In the last 8 weeks, I've been to hell, back again and now experiencing a kind of heavenly grace.
It is Tuesday, March 1, 2022
I'm enjoying a cafe con leche and azucar at a street-side cafe in Baja Sur, Mexico. I'm 8 weeks post-op, and 7 years past suffering with my debilitating right hip erosion. This coffee couldn't taste better. Something about having a cafe in a foreign country always tastes so good, always hits the spot; not to mention it is 75 degrees and sunny this marvelous morning.
Last week after meeting with my surgeon and examining my X-rays, I was given the green light to travel (with caution.) I slipped onto a United Airlines direct flight to visit an old friend who also has, and is in recovery from her right hip replacement. I found out I had thousands of frequent flyer miles on a very old credit card I hadn't used in years and within two days I was bound for an old haunt; Todos Santos, Baja Sur Mexico.
Paula, my beautiful, long-time, amazing friend from Hollywood way back, lives here and has for the last 34 years. She had her right hip replaced before me and gave me two pieces of advise, 1) Watch your step around here with all the dusty uneven sidewalks and streets. She followed with three horror stories about people who revisited the operating table for various reasons, and drilled in that we don't want that. 2) Don't push the healing. You cannot force the natural progression of healing in the body ... it's long and goes through many stages. Simply expelling all the chemicals and meds takes weeks if not months.
Yes, I'd like to sit cross-legged on on my mat. Yes, I'd enjoy a forward fold or a deep spinal twist, but my leg, hip, knee and lower back say "no thanks." If it turns out I never have full range of motion or comfort in these movements, So Be It! None of these concerns contributes to enlightenment, practicing presence, or maybe anything that I need right now. There are many way to move energy and blood and nutrition to joints and tissues, and to feel that sweet infusion I love so much of life force (chi) through my fascia and organs.
This trip was very deliberate: 1) To get out of the zero-degree temperatures, the ice and snow hazards, and to actually start walking and absorbing Vitamin D from the sun and not a pill I've been taking each cold morning. 2) Most importantly I was yearning to connect with my old gal pal of 45 years who escorted me into a very exciting and happening Hollywood scene back in February 1977, and my affinity for this part of the world where I lived many months before my son was born.
Our very first meeting went something like this.
I clutched a small scrap of white paper given to me by an older guy who called himself "shrink to the Hollywood elite," after rejecting his relentless advances upon arriving in LA. He finally angrily scrawled out a name and phone number and shoved it into my hand after I spent the night with a dresser against the door of his guest room. "Good luck," he stated cynically. "You won't get anywhere in this town being so stingy with your body when you have nothing much else to offer." Wow ..
A bus took me into the heart of Hollywood where I hopped out at Hollywood Blvd. and Vine (classic) with maybe not even a suitcase and a few personal items in a bag. There at the phone booth I dropped the dime into the slot and a lovely voice answered after a few rings. Explaining the situation, this person said, "Stay where you are, I'm coming to pick you up." In 30 minutes, sweating in the hot sun and smog of Los Angesles mid-70's, a car pulls up, and I spot a smiling face, kind eyes, and a slight young woman in her late 20's. She called my name and I jumped into her chariot. We rolled alone the congested Boulevards westward towards her apartment on Fountain Avenue is West Hollywood. "Did he try to fuck you ?" she asked laughing. How did she know, I thought. "Agh, those old horney guys are everywhere in this town. I'll take care of you." she assured.
"I'm Paula Rafelson," and I have a room for rent where you can stay until you are on your feet. She is looking me up and down. "Can you do $100. a month?"
This same Paula pulled up in her Jeep yesterday, February 28, 2022, 45 years into the future and called my name from her car. I got so emotional from the sheer serendipity of it all. "Omg, Omg," I kept saying and just as practical as ever she asked laughing, 'Why are you crying?"
We are now in our 70's, movie-star looks faded and hips replaced ... decades of life lived on the edge, adventurous, risk-taking, complicated lives lived and survived. We share guts, smarts, and a yearning to life large; two girls from Harlem, NYC, and Paterson, NJ respectively .
As Paula ushered me into her spacious fortress on the plaza, a gorgeous historic spot she had the brains, gumption and dreams to purchase 34 years back before little Todos Santos became a "must visit" trendy destination, I spot all the familiar artifacts, art, exquisite pieces of furniture, paintings, sculptures, and items she's collected over the decades. Her unique attention to detail and beauty was everywhere. Time collapsed as we talked excitedly for hours into the the night. Finally after teaching my Yin Yoga Zoom class from her daughter's guest suite, equipped with the props and the perfect vibe, I retired to the comfort of my own wing. I used to babysit little Chia Rafelson, who is currently a well-respected yoga teacher, when she was a pint-sized, sassy 2 year-old. Last night I was in her spot on her mat. Her photo to my side looked on like a guardian angel. Chia is now a gorgeous 48-year-old woman.
Laughing and guffawing at so many of the wild, eccentric, and famous people we knew and still know; their fates, the parties, the stories, and shared lives we lived back then, we two grown women are enjoying a reunion once again.
There is time ... and there is no time at all.
(to be continued)