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I like ...

  • rosemary sourdough bread.

  • my dog's heaviness during a nap.

  • peppermint tea.

"Is this the regular morning class?" the sub innocently asks.

I like...

  • belly laughing.

  • cackling with joy.

  • closing my eyes.

"I'm a regular. I'm the only guy--I don't know about the rest." he grunts in his grouchy way and nonchalantly motions to the nameless, faceless room that he can clearly do without.

I like...

  • the first light when the birds realize it's time to sing.

  • steamed milk on my coffee.

  • walking barefoot on freshly mowed grass.

"You and the ladies, huh?" the sub motions to the five faceless, nameless women on mats ready to begin morning yoga.

And with that, a strange shift occurred. The words innocuous enough; however, with their utterance, this man assumed the power and focus of the room. It was in that moment that I realized how easily; how quickly these subtle inequities are affirmed and affirmed by women. So, this is how it happens. My god. How simple, how subtle the erasure.

I thew up a little in my mouth.

Now,'re being sensitive. You just want to be offended. Lighten up.

Natural reaction, friend. I hear you.

To your point, there was no malignant intent. Quite the opposite. A substitute teacher trying to get a feel for the class. The lone man speaking up for himself. The remaining class attempting to quietly settle in. On average, yoga classes are predominantly female. So, a comment about "the ladies" isn't totally outlandish.

But it is a subtle building block in how we see ourselves and others--or don't see.

In this case, there was no denying the immediate impact my body observed and recorded (no gas lighting on my body's watch). Puke, then a strong will to leave. I suffered the puke but did not leave. I remained silent and angry. Angry over our dismissal, angry over the vanilla niceness of the session, angry that I chose not to leave because that seemed too disruptive, angry at the ways in which we bend to avoid conflict. It quickly became deeper; a festering ember of all the ways we individually and collectively give up our names, our faces, and our honesty to power dynamics, convenience, systems, and/or precedent.

I went back to listing.

I like...

  • reading the last sentence of a book.

  • honest gestures of kindness.

  • when people do not say "Welcome in" at restaurants and shops.

I heard a phrase today. "Revolution of the heart." A coincidence as a quiet revolution has been brewing in me that is becoming less quiet with the passing days. It's difficult to describe and I may be doing it a disservice here by attempting to share. I'm in the messy middle of it where it doesn't quite make sense, but the teeth of the gears are clicking through a lubed chain, propelling my wheels forward with honesty and an unwillingness to be erased or silenced.

I list to remember what makes me tick. I do it all day, every day as a way to slow down and make space to see me and to see you. My friend, Chris, caught me later this morning at my workout, noticing my shoes. "Keeping it real" he said with a smile and we both looked down at my Vans clad feet rather than the usual athletic wear of the gym. Yes. I am indeed keeping it real. An imperative; an urgency. My god, there is no alternative.


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