Love is going to happen to you. It will get dropped your head like a piano.
I was at my usual post on the rowing machine at the gym last week. To my delight, the Olympic men’s rowing competition was on the wall-mounted TV above me.
Some women go mad for baseball players or bearded hipsters or Chippendale dancers. Every gal’s got her fetish, and I’ve got it bad for crew men. I’ve been told they prefer well-bred, WASPY blondes who supper at the club. I don’t really fit in at a country club, partly because of the tattoos covering my legs and shoulders and partly because I don’t get golf jokes. So, I considered ogling the men’s rowing team while on the creaky, stationary gym rower.
Sweat was flying from my elbows, Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks was on the iPod. I kept my eyes on the wall-mounted TV above me and proceeded to get it done. To do it. To give 110 percent. My mind only had room for cliches and self-congratulatory phrases and crew boys. I was in the zone.
Until the Olympic program was interrupted by a a pale young man covered in glitter, the slight hint of fangs protruding from his dewy upper lip. An alabaster young woman draped in flannel leans into him for a slack-jawed kiss. Though I couldn’t hear the TV, I could read the closed captioning. I read that the little lumberjack had cheated on the disco-ball, James Dean look-a-like. The commentator assured the viewers that this was no baseless rumor. There were actual pictures!
My buzz was shot in an instant. Here I was in the middle of my meaty fantasy, and the Twilight kids pop in. It was like somebody mentioned my parent’s having sex. A libido killer, for sure.
I’m aware of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart because I have to be. Even though I don’t hang out with many tweens or spend any time reading fantasy (I’m trying to work on that. If you have a suggestion…), I’ve been handed those oversized paperbacks more time than I can count. “If you’re looking for something fun…” my friends have said.
We obviously have different ideas of fun. Not hearty enough to slog through 400 pages of humorless, sexless teenage melodrama, my friends suggested I see the movie. It was like peering at a wet blanket through a microscope. I would’ve fallen asleep, but I thought that there must be more to it than this. I waited and waited. Three hours of slow-motion repression with a Hot Topic soundtrack. That movie studio owes me 11 dollars.
Given the fact that these kids have stolen my money and my crew men, I should feel no sympathy for them. They are rich and good looking and don’t have to spend their 20s living with their parents and working an unpaid internship. The thing is, though, I do feel bad for them. Yoga opened my heart many years ago. What can I say? Sometimes some stragglers get in.
I don’t feel bad that they’re suffering from heartbreak. That’s an inevitable part of being human, and we wouldn’t have any art or film or sweet, sweet rock n’ roll without it. Your country breaks your heart. Your mother breaks your heart. Your ex breaks your heart. All creativity is the attempt to patch those wounds. So, maybe they will actually learn how to act with this recent scandal.
I feel bad because they are being tarred and feathered in celebrity town square. Actually, Kristen Stewart is the one on the gallows for her infidelities. While Jon Stewart feeds Pattinson Ben and Jerry’s ice cream on The Daily Show, his ex-girlfriend is in a secret location in fear of a tween-style smackdown. Ponytails will be pulled. Keds will be up asses. Kristen Stewart has reason to fear for her life.
She cheated. Is this a surprise? I ask you, adults, is there anything shocking or scandalous about one person cheating on another? Painful: yes. Hard to make sense of: granted. But shock and awe are usually reserved for things that defy our daily experiences. Seeing a man being killed in front of you would inspire shock. A moment of noiseless space in your mind during meditation might inspire awe. These circumstances are rare and require us to stop, respond and ponder.
If you’re cheating or being cheated on, it definitely will inspire shock and awe. Whether you are sneaking around or sneaking around to catch the sneaking around, you find yourself becoming a person you thought you’d never be: jealous, self-hating, lustful, fearful, and making desperate phone calls to the therapist’s answering service. Yes, it’s a f*cking emergency!
I’ve known cheaters, and I’ve known the cheated-on, and neither one of them seems to come out of it unscathed. You’ll most likely move on—but every future relationship will be colored by that experience. You’ll wonder if you will cheat again should the opportunity present itself. After tasting the lecherous life, it’s hard to believe in truth and commitment again.
If you’ve been cheated-on, you find a good, firm chair at a bookstore and park it beside the self-help aisle. You blame yourself—even though everyone and your good feminist common sense tells you that you are blameless. You go to yoga class, and when the teacher asks for requests, you tell her heart openers. I need heart openers. You will heal and find someone again, but you have to practice truly believing it. You will learn to like Fish pose.
When I was 13, I caught my friend’s father cheating on her mother. It was a brief moment, a kiss with his neighbor that I wasn’t supposed to see—didn’t want to see. He spotted me spying; an awkward moment remains burned into my cerebellum. Every time I saw him with his wife, I wanted to expose him. I wanted to show him for the lying bastard that he was with his little league coach credentials and church-on-Sunday morals. It made it all the more confusing that he was a wonderful father and respected member of the community.
It transformed all the things I’d learned about love and marriage into lies. I wondered if my teachers and camp counselors and doctors and ministers were cheating. As I got older, I realized: yes, they are. Cheating is certainly not as common as most people think it is. It is, though, something that will impact your life through your own experiences or those of friends. Cheating is going to come up. So have your script ready.
The worst thing you can do to a child is tell her that romantic love is perfect. That it will drive light into the darkest corners of the soul. That it will eradicate every obstacle and solve every problem. We know that it won’t. Most of us have the proof on an old memory card that we just can’t seem to erase—pictures of the beach trip when things were good.
I’m not saying that we should raise a generation of cynics. Quite the contrary. I wish we could raise a nation of open-hearted love beasts—ferocious creatures who will hug you until you surrender and hug back. As a yogi, love is the capital thing. It is our Jesus and Mary and all 12 disciples. In yoga, though, love isn’t an abstract concept. It’s a practice. Something we learn how to do on a daily basis. There’s a reason we yogi’s need savasana at the end of your practices. It’s exhausting, sometimes, to love.
We all know this. We are tested over and over again by our friends, romantic partners and relatives. We make mistakes–we fumble and fail and hurt everyone. Love is going to happen to you. It will get dropped your head like a piano. You’ll need to keep a firm grip on your mind.
What if we practiced love like a pose? We accepted our clumsiness on the first try, but refined and corrected with each try? We strove for grace, but didn’t mind falling on our faces to get there? If we can accept our fate as students and study like mad, perhaps we can actually learn something from all this pain. This requires being able to embrace the truth and erase the romantic illusions that prevent us from moving forward with our lives.
I don’t know how my friend’s father and mother moved on from that moment. What happened between them is no longer my concern. I’m a grown-up now and don’t expect answers for the unanswerable. I do, however, expect the same kind of treatment that father gave me after I busted him. A Tastee-Freeze ice cream cone.
Cough it up, K-Stew.
Editor: Brianna Bemel
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