Spiders

mothsLast night as I was coming out of the bathroom, a spider ran across my carpeted bedroom floor. I picked up a tissue, and softly collected the insect, opening the door to my backyard and telling it farewell as I shook the tissue out. My grandma said it was bad luck to kill spiders in the house, and so I always rescue them, no matter how large and foreboding.

I’ve been killing tiny moths lately. They have invaded my home and so I kill them like it’s my part-time job, but there are no benefits despite this new freelance schedule. The place was infested when I moved in, and the extent of their presence did not become clear until after I’d fully taken up residence in the apartment. An exterminator came with his contraption and sprayed the cabinets. I still see at least two moths every day, regardless. I try to kill each one. When I’m out working, I spot black dots out of the corner of my eyes, and I think they are moths, but really, my eyes are just tired of the constant flutter. Maybe one day they will stop appearing. Maybe one day they won’t.

I walk a lot more here, since I moved from the New York City, and there are not many insects outside – it’s just turning into spring, after all, and they seem to like my house better than the fresh Pittsburgh air. I’ve been averaging about five miles a day, up and down massive hills. The other afternoon, I was quite dizzy, after having not eaten in so long, I then overdosed on sugar to make up for the lack. Here, I’ve lost weight. This doesn’t make sense to me, as I was fitter in the city, or so I thought.

New York is a swirl of feelings and confusion, and the opportunity to distract from the authentic lies around every corner. It is my history. It is where I was able to get lost and stay lost and cling to the threads of a youth that no one wants to leave behind. It’s where Peter Pan is not just a brand of peanut butter. There’s security in the youthful and reckless anonymity, and a brotherhood among the eccentric, each strange experience like another precious gem to be stored in life’s safe deposit box, or pawned for dropping funds on the next instant gratification. And if all else fails, there are copious bodegas in which you can purchase the a Mega Millions ticket or scratch card. Anything can happen in New York City; your luck can change around each and every corner. But I left because it was time to grow up and I was tired of riding that never-ending carousel, even though it was in the middle of Central Park, at the center of everything.

Something is missing despite all this hiking and moving and moth-killing. It’s not my bank account, it’s not opportunity. It’s not the chance to start over; it’s greater than that, because my numbers are never the right ones to win the jackpot.  I still can’t put my finger on the ghostly sensation that somehow brought me to tears when I saw the bright lights and savage skyscrapers of New York City in an online article yesterday.  Do I miss this place? Do I miss feeling so outside and yet so embraced all the time? I had memories there; how that road was where I fell one afternoon during a long run. And that’s the cafe out of which I had to dash because I had a terrible date. And this place? It’s right around the corner from my yoga studio, and where we went one evening and had much-needed wine after a particularly emotional teacher training session.

Today, I silently put spiders outside to the sound of laughter and clinking glasses, and open my back door to let in the scented night air. Maybe saving these spiders will alter my fortune. Maybe that scratch card I’ll get tomorrow with loose change in the bottom of my bag will be the one. But  this evening, and on other evenings, I know, I will let a tear fall because the past is always within and without, and there really is never any going back.

 


Miriam Lamey is an Pittsburgh-based writer and yoga teacher. She strives to be open and attentive to the everyday, writing with vulnerability and honesty – things she also continually explores in her personal ashtanga yoga practice. She loves the discovery and adventure of being and aims to render experience via prose.  Miriam’s head is also turned by thoughtful and poignant music, an excellent bottle of wine, well-crafted cocktails, delicious food, the wide outdoors, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. She is grateful to have so much support and love in her life. Her photography and insights are on Instagram under Ldym_07.  Read more on her blog at www.miriamlamey.com 

Counting Each Exhale

miriam snow picIt’s 4:19 am. I’m hungry, again, so I grab some cashews and blanched almonds and go back to bed, the stillness in the room on par with the same calm inside. I close my eyes and try to exhale to a count of at least eight. They say that longer exhales increase the amount of oxytocin flowing through the body, or some chemical buzz-concept that I read online while stuck at a desk, my breathing constantly short and snappy.

It’s 5:30. I’m awake. Fuck.

I get up in the dark and figure that it’s time to start this day. What else am I supposed to do? Go to work early? Then I peer through the brand new blinds my apartment management company provided, and see another snowy quilt lying all over the ground. There was brown sickly grass there yesterday. Today, I’ll probably break these fancy blinds because I seem to ruin everything anyway. Inhale. Exhale. A count of three. At least my shoulders are away from my ears and I am able to push the air from my lungs. When I first moved to Pittsburgh I thought I was getting sick again, but it was my body clearing out city pollution.

I stopped coughing yesterday.

I’m not dreaming anymore, because I just registered myself as a yoga teacher.

If my eyes had only been opened in the way they have over the past six months across my thirty-two years of life, I’d have been full of oxygen and light, swinging from open arms, limbs loose, eyes full and bold and slightly hungry to experience more, than gasping for breath and blinded as I was in New York. For years there, I couldn’t get past an exhale of two for the majority of my time on this planet. What didn’t help to rectify this was that I used to smoke cigarettes, despite all the yoga and kale. They say balance is good for the soul, but when the air is thick, I only make it thicker with vices and tears.

The sun is up now and reminds me that I chose to change a year ago rather than suffer at the hands of the angry Greek gods by which I was surrounded. Medusa, I remember, had the power to turn people to stone, but I knew – no matter what – my lungs were strong and my heart stronger and that I would never look her in the eye. So here I am. Whole. Alive.

I stop watching the clock.Instead, I watch the snow. And then my breath. And then my inbox. I’m responsible for myself and my schedule these days, and if I don’t get out in that precious gap between blizzard and nightfall, then I’ll be trapped. Yet I pinch myself, again, because I know I’m awake.To reinforce that fact, I close my eyes, count to eight, and that’s when I find how the oxytocin is not only coming from my body’s reaction to the stillness, but from the arms that are wrapping around me, unseen, but clearly felt. If this is contentment, then I’m awake and alive and breathing in and out to the count of ten.

 


Miriam Lamey is a Pittsburgh-based writer and yoga teacher. She strives to be open and attentive to the everyday, using life’s beauty and tragedy as inspiration for her writing and yoga practice. She’s an avid Ashtanga practitioner, also partial to a great new album, excellent bottle of wine, a good Manhattan, and attentively-cooked meal. Check out more of her writing and yoga things at www.miriamlamey.com

 

And Then The Snow Fell

Credit: Miriam Lamey
Credit: Miriam Lamey

Before the snow fell I was chased by a crazy man, an accomplishment of which none of us should be proud, but we tell our tales of survival, words adhering to our clothing like red, blue, green and purple badges of courage.

Before the snow fell I was chased and chastised by a truly insane man in a yuppie part of the city. When I first saw him, he was talking to the bench, and seemed harmless and dirty. Then screamed at me for not saying good morning to him. I was cold and my coffee had been served to me lukewarm, and my chest burned and pinched with fear. He followed me, aggressive and unstable. I ran, surprised tears mixing with high-pitched laughter all falling down my face. Once in the bourgeois haven of my yoga studio, I tried to unclench. Instead, I remembered the angry, impassioned words: “I’m fucking talking to you. Don’t walk away from me. Didn’t you hear me? Didn’t you?” and I kept shaking, dabbing at a damp spot on my leggings from slush spray and dirty water. The moments had passed more quickly and more slowly than time moved for me for weeks, and I felt like Rip Van Winkle in a crowd of babies.

On the night the snow fell we all rushed out of work early, scared and excited at the prospect of routine operations screeching to a halt. We feared the worst, and stocked our refrigerators with kale, because that’s what New Yorkers do. We bought beer and wine and whiskey, imagining long, cozy afternoons, with snow howling outside and warm, firey embrace inside. We were quieter on the subways than usual because we all did fear that something bad was going to happen, forgetting we all lived in the biggest city in the world and not on the prairies. We liked the drama, because whether or not we stand under glittering lights, here in New York we all perform our monologues for other people and take on the roles that will garner us a standing ovation and, if we’re lucky, a red rose or two, because there’s nothing more precious than watching a cut flower age, petals dropping as its sweet perfume turns musty and old. Those flowers are real, and few of us can experience them for ourselves.

As the snow started to fall, I minded the slush, bought another bottle of wine and weighed my budget; heading to the bar on a “school night” to find room and chat with a select group of brave souls was more appealing than more kale. I craved the certain warmth that comes from a near empty bar where, independent from the amount of alcohol consumed, patrons band together. We watch one another fade with fatigue, and inhaled the musty smell of stale beer that never leaves any bar and feels both comforting and nauseating. That evening, the wind blew and I laughed and sipped wine and welcomed the prospect of working at home. Later, I looked outside to gauge the weather. The snow had stopped but the winds were gusty, and I saw the piles begin to form in the eerily empty streets, always full of cars and noise and footsteps and cigarettes. I thought of him. Was he warm tonight? Did he know where to go to keep warm? Did someone feed him? Was he going to be okay that the subways were closing and he didn’t even have this form of a mobile home in which to take refuge?

I left the bar, turned up my collar and set out for my house, slipping, sliding and feeling the odd snowflake sting my eyes. I saw a huddled bundle right under the subway stairs, and while my chest clenched, I was compelled to take a look. I walked over. It was a pile of garbage. I sighed, looked up at the grey-orange sky unnaturally lit by too many streetlights and picked my way carefully home.

 


Miriam Lamey is a Pittsburgh-based writer and yoga teacher. She strives to be open and attentive to the everyday, using life’s beauty and tragedy as inspiration for her writing and yoga practice. She’s an avid Ashtanga practitioner and teacher, also partial to a great new album, excellent bottle of wine, a good Manhattan, and attentively-cooked meal.  Follow her on Twitter @mirseven and on Instagram.  Read more on her blog at www.miriamlamey.com.