A word that has always made me think of cattle. Some how, some way, it now describes me as I sit here, freshly showered (a great way to cleanse myself of a day at the office), adorned in leggings and a cardigan, easy gliding with my feet propped, ready to start the evening, or at least write about it. I came home from work today with my mental To-Do list in tow. I walked the dog as I planned dinner and the activities that I ought to commence before or immediately thereafter: put dishes away (check!), practice yoga, put laundry away, bake bread pudding-to-rid-yourself-of-aging-bread, and so on and so forth. Even a year ago, my evening agenda looked incredibly different. How did I go from a spontaneous dance-party-seeking adventurer to the slipper wearing, yoga-smitten, homebody that I’ve now become?

I have never been a great partier. Perhaps that’s why I postponed my initiation into drinking until the age of 18, while many of my peers had years of boozing under their belts. I grew up in a dry household, which probably didn’t help. Wild nights weren’t modeled for me. Staying home and sitting around the dinner table was.

I had my Wild College Years, as so many of us do. I remember how somehow during my freshman year, the “weekend” would start on Sunday and how by Thursday I was so burnt out and physically exhausted that I had to stay in and rest up for a weekend of work and studying. I managed to maintain and interest in going out through grad school. Looking back, I hypothesize that the stress led me to it. That reading 200+ pages a week lends itself to raucous Thursday night outings and 4am gay bars (I was in Chicago, after all).  After grad school, something started to shift. Perhaps it kicked off by my six-month stint living back at home with my cat, feeling badly about myself and working at my high school retail gig. Living in Swanton, Ohio past the age of 18 is not conducive to having a social life. I am certain of this.

Drinking and nesting are by no means counter indicative, of course. Plenty of people stay home, drink, and get silly. I have partaken in numerous living room dance parties that have stemmed from the most modest affairs, yet my aim here is to somehow re-trace my path from having lots and lots of “fun,” out, socially, to being here– where I sit, contentedly, with no social plans for the next three nights and a stack of W-2s that I’m far too eager to get my hands on.

The answer is this: I. Got. Old.

I smile as I type this, because I am, in fact, the ripe age of twenty-nine. Dirty thirty has yet to take a hold of me with its thick calloused claws and, really, beside my ever-graying hair, strangers seem in disbelief that I’m a day over twenty-three.

Yoga is most certainly one of the culprits of this developing domestication. My practice has aged with me over these past few years. It’s somehow grown from a wee bud of a hobby into a generous blossom of a practice that is my identity, my spirituality, my clarity, and my light.  Yoga is also my health, both mental and physical. And it is a killer on the nightlife, to say the least. Show me a yogi with a daily practice who feels inspired my sleep deprivation and a hangover and I’ll show you my false left butt cheek.

So, that’s part of it, I think, as I sit in a too-dark (now that the sun has set) room, wishing I had reading glasses or at least a headlamp. It is also this aging process–not of the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” variety—but just in the way that this body I inhabit  has begun to feel worn. I am aware of its limits and what seems to await it. This domestication is also, undeniably, the side effect of a biological clock that is tick-tick-ticking. It is the warmth and security of a loving, supportive partnership. Of a shared home that brings me comfort. Is it the result of day-after-day of tiring work, whether I’m in a field or stuck in a chair.

Often enough, I miss being able to stay up late. I wonder what I’m missing at a friend’s rock show or at the party that I left at eleven. I reminisce over about nights spent dancing for hours or out on the town. I laugh at myself as I recall, fondly, times in which I had far too much to drink and ended up lying in the neighbor’s bushes or wrestling with a friend. I wish, sometimes, that I didn’t tire out so quickly after the sun sets. That I could loosen up, let go, finish a second drink and think not about the consequences (whether it be a headache or a loss of precious sleep). Alas, I cannot.

I am twenty-nine going on fifty. I am a veteran farm hand that can’t ditch the memory of exhaustion so compelling that cereal sounds like an arduous dinner option and reading feels like a chore. I am a health nut and a stay-at-home girlfriend. I am a yogi and a crafter. An adoptive dog mom and a woman who is (suddenly) elated to have a few incredible friends to focus on instead of hoards of acquaintances that used to cloud her periphery. Still, knowing all of this, and even feeling a certain degree of gratitude for life and all of its transitions, I sometimes can’t help but look in the mirror and imagine for moment that I’ve got “Lame-O” scrawled across my forehead.

Moving meditations

It is strange to think that just a couple of months ago I was living on a few acres in central New York, carpooling with my fellow crew members to a farm just down the street. It was less than a mile really, or, measured in time (as we like to do ‘round here) “about five minutes.”  I often thought how seemingly ridiculous it was to be driving and not walking or biking. We were farmers, after all. Presumably tree huggers, as green in spirit as in thumb. Still, I knew perfectly well that for the lot of us, it made perfect sense. Every second of our breaks was invaluable (read: food; rest). Every ounce of energy saved, much the same.

At present I reside, once again, for this brief moment, in bustling city of Ann Arbor. I can’t walk a dog in five minutes, much less get to work on time. I have my own wheels, but until recently, haven’t had much income and so burning gas seems counterproductive, not to mention contradictory to, what is, my true tree-hugging nature.  What are the alternatives you ask? They are endless. I can walk 5 miles to work (highly unlikely and supremely time consuming, not to mention mildly unpleasant in the winter, even with the climate change), bike to work (also not entirely safe/appealing/and-we-all-know-how-fun-it-is-to-pack-two-meals-AND-a-change-of-clothes-every-morning), carpool (extremely time efficient and generally inconvenient, given I’m not the one with parking pass and flexible faculty work hour), or take advantage of local public transit.

This morning was my second consecutive ride into work on the university commuter bus. To get to this bus, I have to book it on foot for just under a mile. These walks are hurried, but also entirely pleasant and awakening. I find myself enjoying the fresh air, the damp chill, and even the seemingly permanent grayness of the sky. Thanks to the alignment of the stars, luck, or something of the sort, I consistently manage to make it to the bus stop in-the-nick-of-time. I arrive breathily, squeeze into the sardine can that is campus transportation and say a silent thank you to the God of All That is Timely and Good.

It is then that the meditation begins. My fifteen minute walk is nearly a warm up.  I move past memories–flashes of packing into busy trains in other cities, other countries–and observe my surroundings. I am swimming in a sea of college students and I feel like a century-old sea turtle amongst a school of young fish. They look like children and I find myself both fascinated and disturbed. I feel out of place and wonder if they can sense my age (Do I smell older?), or maybe spot one of my many gray hairs. In the end, it doesn’t matter really. I retreat from my people watching and move inward. I chant silently in my head or sometimes just fix my gaze on something innoccuous (How did I become that women covered in dog hair?). I sit down, if and when the opportunity presents itself- typically a whopping two stops from my destination, as students pour out by the dozens, off to their classes. Ready to start their days; start their lives.

Yesterday, on my way to work, I listed off reasons in my head to excuse the purchase of a parking pass, to warrant a daily (independent! Expedient!) commute that would relieve me of this twice daily pilgrimage. By the time I was walking home, I had thrown those excuses out the door. This is a practice of its own. It is an opportunity. It is saved energy and expenses. It is fresh air and exercise and an extra forty minutes (at least) of time well spent. For a woman who just recently transported back into the office from a glorious, wide-open field, it is even, perhaps, a blessing in disguise.