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Lions Roar : January 2013
Dancing in Foam & Other Adventures They say that wherever you go, there you are. But as ANNE CUSHMAN discovers in Spain, it’s also true that travel gives you a fresh take on yourself. I WAS IN MY TWENTIES WHEN I first met Shawn. She was a slender, intense yogini from Vermont with a long brown ponytail and Birkenstocks. In a teacher-training program at the Iyengar Yoga Institute in San Francisco, we drilled side by side in our eighties-style leotards on green sticky mats, parsing the muscular grammar of downward dog and revolved triangle. We crayoned nerves and organs in our anatomy coloring books; we identified—blindfolded—the disassembled vertebrae of a plastic skeleton; we visited each other for yoga dates, where we balanced side by side on our heads while discussing our once and future boyfriends. But then she fell in love with one of our fellow yogis, a hand- some, serious Catalan on sabbatical from his engineering job. Shortly after their first baby was born, she wrote me a letter from Barcelona on a flimsy blue aerogram. I meant to write back right away, but I got distracted by a few other things—some long treks through India, a couple of books, a marriage, a child, a divorce. Suddenly more than twenty years had slipped by, and I wanted to take my ten-year-old son, Skye, to study Spanish in Spain. My Google search found Shawn teaching prenatal yoga and working as a doula in Sitges, a beach town just south of Barce- lona. She answered my email right away: “I still have a photo of you in downward dog hanging in my painting studio!” I toured her Facebook wall, where she looked exactly the same as I remembered her, until I realized I was viewing a photo of her daughter. I had a warm but disorienting Skype conversation with a European woman with a chic blonde haircut who answered to Shawn’s name but kept breaking off to chat in Spanish and Cata- lan with her two teenagers. In the decades since we’d last spoken, Shawn and I had each built a thriving life—and along the way, accumulated the usual list of roads-not-taken. I envied her established twenty-year marriage. She envied my fresh new romance with Teja, a musi- cian and qigong teacher. I pined for her trilingual sophistication. She pined for my local community of dharma yoga friends. She told me about the first yoga class she ever taught in Spanish, in which she had instructed a group of pregnant women to “sit on their testicles” (inadvertently confusing the Spanish word for PHOTOBYANNECUSHMAN Skye dancing at the foam festival. SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2013 29