From what I can tell, there’s a bit of competition on the blog for readers’ favorite character. My parents used to be relatively popular, but some words were said over the summer that led me to reduce their appearances. (Mom said, “you know, when you write about us on your blog, you’re not making us look bad. You’re making yourself look bad–for writing about us.” Dad said, “I didn’t think it was funny. I didn’t think it was cute. In fact, it was offensive. Take it down.”) Now, it’s pretty much down to my step-mom, and my brother.
My step-mom is popular because she is a champion of booty calls and helps me meet psychos. My brother is popular because he is infinitely cooler than I am. As people who know me in real life know, I tend to do some complaining about this, but it’s probably a lot harder on him than it is on me. First of all, he is under a lot of pressure to stay cool, so that one of us will be cool at all times. Second of all, he kind-of-sort-sometimes finds it really annoying to be around me, when I won’t drink, take cabs, or smile.
Although we butted heads a bit about this Hawaii, I had proved my merit by the end of the trip, when, after taking about 4 sips of his drink before we went to the airport, I was tipsy enough to get in a fight with security and was sent outside to the parking lot in my socks. (But seriously, they let terrorists on the airplane all the time, and I’m a red flag because there’s water in my Sigg bottle??)
Long story short, a few days after returning from Hawaii, I was finally ready let loose. I met a friend on Saturday night for drinks around 8, figuring that I could have one and be home early. But after that friend wanted to leave, I met another friend. And I went to another bar. It was like being 22 again! Plus, I’d had two drinks, and I was still awake, alive and relatively coherent. All I could think was, “Wow. My brother would be so proud of me. I wish he could see me now!”
I was still gloating to myself about my achievements as a social human being as we walked to yet another bar. This was the moment when I normally started explaining that I had to get to the subway, but I was walking. In fact, I was walking right past a huge line of people waiting to get into the bar at the Hotel on Rivington.
I scanned the crowd, briefly morphing back into my old, critical self. “Who are these people?” I snickered internally. Then, I got back into my silly self. “I want to look at every single one of these people, so I can really get an idea of who they are, and memorize them for future reference!” As I was scanning the crowd, my eyes landed on very tall, clean shaven young man who had kind of baby-face. In fact, it was a baby-face that I remembered quite well from his baby-hood. It was my brother.
When we made eye contact, it was kind of like that moment in the Parent Trap when the two twins look at each other and think: This can’t be happening. I honestly think that if an elephant wearing a bikini had walked down Rivington St, my brother would have less surprised than he was to see me out of the house after 1am. I’m not sure I helped matters with my spastic outburst of enthusiasm.
“Hey!” I screamed across the line of people. “Look at me! I’m out! I’m cool! I’m finally cool!!” He got this look in eyes that either ment he was going to burst out laughing or run away, so I continued, “I’m even drinking!” (Which based on my behavior, was probably obvious.) “I wanted you see me because I knew you’d be so impressed.” Seeing that he was not going to run away, I scuttled over.
Not only did he not run away, he alerted his friends that I was on the scene. Then he cocked his head at the bouncer. Only then did I realize that he was not waiting on the line, but just standing outside the front door. “Mario, is it going to be a problem for me to bring two more girls with me?” The bouncer said it was fine, and my brother started to move and cut the whole line, with his whole crowd. “Is your friend coming?” he asked me.
She was standing further away, and called to me that they had to head to their designated destination. I waved happily goodbye as I was shuttled into the bar with my brother’s crowd. Mind you, I hadn’t been home since 10am, so I had a large tote bag with a yoga mat sticking out of it. Normally I’d let this kind of cumbersome inconvenience send me home or at least wreck my evening, but I was happy as a clam, and possibly grinning like an idiot.
I followed my brother around the bar as he talked to pretty much everyone, took over the dance floor and cut half the line to the bathroom. I delightedly turned to one of his friends who has always given me kind of hard time, “Look at me, J! I’m partying!” In return, I got a half-smile. “Yeah, are you really partying? Let’s see it.”
Then came the moment of truth. We walked over to the bar. “Are you drinking?” asked my brother as he leaned in to order.
“Yeah!” I practically cheered. I was so excited to prove that I was partying! And furthermore, who could honestly stand to hang out at the Hotel on Rivington without a drink in hand to numb the pain?
But as he was ordering, I got the sudden urge to change my mind. I had a lot of writing to do, I still had to take the D train home, and I wanted to get up for yoga the next day. And since starting my training, I had actually come to hate drinking. I knew I’d wake up with everything feeling all wrong, and that the feeling would last a few days. I started to lean forward to see if he could cancel my drink order.
Then I remember something my teacher had said in class earlier that morning. “Your heart knows.” She explained that our minds like to jump into situations and pretend they know things, but they really just complicate things. The heart leads us towards what we’re really supposed to be doing. And somehow, in the that moment, crazy as it sounds I knew that I was supposed to be ordering a drink.
Yoga may seem like it’s all about muscle tone and breath and meditation and cleanses and green tea, but it’s also about approaching every situation with fresh eyes, stepping out of our comfort zones and finding away to share space and time with everyone we meet. Yoga is compromise. When I got that drink in my hand and I watched my brother’s at-peace face as we clinked glasses, I knew that in that moment, I had done the right thing.
Not that it was easy. For me, walking around that bar with that drink and my awkward yoga mat felt a bit like wavering in ardha chandrasana. I didn’t know if my alignment was right, or whether I would fall and be embarrassed, or whether I could arch my back really far and fly. I had to breathe deeply, be patient and exert equal amounts of effort and ease. Not panicking or sneering required effort, but once I pushed aside judgment and put a smile on my face, I found myself happily dancing, chatting and even teaching my brother’s friends yoga in the foyer (until I realized they were going to get really hurt if I let keep trying to imitate me, although standing around with one leg up in the air was probably the only way for me to accrue fans at that bar.)
Since I was trailing after my brother all night, I didn’t really interact with the crowd. But finally, when he left me alone for a minute, I heard a male voice behind me. “Is that a yoga mat?”
I turned around. “Yes.”
“You have got to be kidding me.” Yes, I’m kidding. It’s actually a big tube of lipstick.
“Well, I didn’t bring here. I’ve been out all day, since 11.”
“That’s crazy,” he told me. “You should go home.” That’s a new one, I thought. Guys don’t usually ask me to go home until we’ve been dating for about six months. He continued, “so who’s that guy?”
As though his ears were burning, my brother swooned in. “He’s my brother,” I explained, feeling mildly like Princess Leia.
My brother lowered his head and whispered extensively in the guy’s ear. All I heard was “can’t take a compliment.”
“What are you telling him?” I demanded.
“I told him you thought you were really hot sh*t, so he better watch out for your ego.” He dashed off.
The guy and I stared at each other apprehensively for a minute. I broke the silence, out of sheer curiosity. “What did he say to you?”
“Err, nothing.” Pause. “Interesting relationship you have there.”
I smiled apologetically. “It’d make a good, strange movie, right?” I walked away and found my brother again.
“What did you say to that guy?”
He put his hand on my shoulder. “Let me explain something to you, RB.” He took a deep breath. “The same way that you feel tall compared to girls, I feel tall compared to guys. It’s just being tall.”
“Totally,” I agreed, deciding now was not a good time to ask anymore questions. We danced for a minute before my heart belatedly took the hint, and knew that it was time to go home.
The next morning’s Iyengar class was perhaps not my most shining moment, but I didn’t mind. I couldn’t help but feel that I had already done my morning practice in the middle of the night.