Advanced Breathing Lessons

I’m coming up for air after a long grueling project that has kept me away from all of you for far too long, and how I have missed you, each and every one.

Already this morning, I’ve been walking around my beloved turquoise conch cottage, admiring the treasures I’ve acquired from all you all over the years: Sue Ten’s shadow-boxed pop-up postcard of the Coney Island Cyclone; my growing collection of pink ball caps; the pillow shams the Yoga Guy brought back from India; my sister Mel’s over-decorated plush moose that traveled with the twins and me when we packed up our Ford Escort and found our way out of the Great State of Maine.

My real treasure, though, is seeing you, sipping your plain ol’ cups of coffee and finishing off each other’s crossword puzzles left on the counter until they are done. I’m happy to be home, damn near ecstatic to be back in the pie shop, catching up with all that’s gone on while I’ve been just plain gone.

What I missed the most, I’ll say, has been breathing. One of my favorite lines from John Lennon is this: “As breathing is my life, to stop I dare not dare.” I’ve often felt that my life at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range has been an ongoing series of breathing lessons; but still, when I’m away, I tend to forget how to do it right. I find myself gasping for air, both physically and metaphorically.

Sitting here now with you, watching your hands flutter as you fill me in on your second cousin Darnell’s latest romance – and I do wish you had left out the part that involved my car – I am pleasantly aware of the effortless flow of pie-scented air through my nostrils and lungs. I am breathing again, fully, passionately, and smooth as a slice of French silk pie.

Breathing well and often is perhaps one of those taken-for-granted actions that we don’t fully miss until it’s been lost and restored. Certainly, I never stopped taking in air while I was gone, but it didn’t taste like you. It wasn’t the flavor of the driving range after a lightning strike, or the aroma of popcorn on movie night at the Swing Barn. It didn’t restore me like the deep grab of breath when I am swimming one more lap, or occupy my lizard brain like the Yoga Guy’s deliberate instructions.

No, my breathing while away was laced with stress and chemicals and even sorrow. Too much of the world, it seems, has too many distractions and roadblocks between the air and the breath.  With pie and golf, though, there’s always a fairly good chance that we will actually  achieve perfection, even if it’s only for one dead-on hit out of 100 balls, or a micro-second of seeing the known universe between the layers of an exquisitely layered crust.

Some day, perhaps, I’ll learn how to breathe well and easily when I’m outside this diving bell that we call home. If you know how to do it, come on by and tell me how. I’m willing to learn. I certainly am. Just not right now while I can hear the Morning Guy restocking the soda machine and shooing away the Chocoloskee chickens. Right now, I want to do nothing more than to breathe in early morning at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range. Hope to see you soon.

One comment

  1. tenenbaum.susan says:

    Logan filled the void of your absence with absynthe. I don’t complain much, at least not about the burden of caring for Logan, but the truth is he’s not been breathing that well, lately. And when he can’t breathe, I choke. Frankly, I’m jealous of you – the cute house, etc. You choose to dive and then complain about the lack of oxygen? I’m tethered to a dying man by a pretty short electrode, and there’s really not enough air in this room for the two of us. The best of times are those I pass in the dance barn, with the enormous wooden shutters thrown aside, light and air streaming in, uncontrolled, turning all the floating cellulose into fairydust, wind blowing my skirt up if I get too close on just the right evening, able to see the stars even from indoors – I notice that I never get winded when I’m dancing. But these nights become fewer and fewer – Logan’s getting scared. He wants me to carry him to the barn when I leave home, and I find myself giving in to him more frequently nowadays; I don’t want to waste my breath arguing. He’s emptying out, and I’m panicking. I feel like something is being stolen – maybe Logan, maybe my freedom, maybe my sanity. I’m choking. More and more often also, I find myself needing stuff to feel better. Tubes of Deco-Cake, packets of sprinkles, tins of colored sugar. If I grab some chewing gum off the shelf, it’s only because I’m short of breath – need to lubricate my throat, need to do something to preserve myself.
    So at least for now, don’t ask me to teach you how to breathe. I’m working on taking one breath at a time, one step at a time, one potato at a time. I could use some help, here.

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