Sweet

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Thursday night at Nia at the end of class, I asked everyone – as they lay on the floor, sweaty, relaxed, transcended – what would make their new year sweet? What, I asked, might make their new year peaceful? What would make their new year blessed?

Thursday was International Day of Peace, and – I imagine you may feel the same way – I have been putting my fingers in my ears and chanting “la la la I can’t hear you” to the news. Men in powerful positions bluster, their brags and threats reaching hurricane force, as they wag their nuclear missiles in each other’s faces. Boys, stop it.  They can’t be serious, can they? They know what’s at stake? They do. We are at stake, and they don’t care about us. We aren’t real to them – our lives, our hopes, our blood. These puffy men believe they are Kings and that we exist to follow their will. That is, they are insane. In power and insane. I can’t think about it, literally. There is no way to fathom human beings who act inhumanely.

 

In class at CNM, we read “Learning to Read and Write” by Frederick Douglass. Then I tell them there are more than 40 million slaves today worldwide. 71% of them are women and girls sold into sexual slavery. I can see this information not computing, see in their faces that this number, 40 million, makes no sense.

 

Puerto Rico, I tell my classes, will be without electricity for months. Here in the States, we would lose our shit if we had to spend half a day without charging our phones and using our internet. We have clean water to drink, hot water for our showers. We are rich and safe. The young mother in my morning section who was evicted from her apartment this past week and still got her homework completed on time? She probably doesn’t feel rich or safe. It’s all comparative and it’s all perspective. If I don’t think about North Korea and Puerto Rico and Houston and Mexico and all the rest, I sleep pretty well at night.

 

Thursday was International Day of Peace, and I made my paltry offering to the world. I pushed a few roomfuls of students to think a little bit harder than they had the day before, and I pushed a dozen women to sweat and glide and shake for an hour, all so they could spend those last three minutes on the floor, relaxed and spent and receptive.

 

My life is privileged and selfish. And yet – last night, I sat outside, long past sunset, in the last hours of summer. I said to my husband: this is it. This is the reason we know it’s amazing to be alive - this sky, this warm air, this beauty.

 

Today is my 23rd wedding anniversary. Underneath a chuppah of giant sunflowers, more than two decades ago, we said our vows in a judge’s office. Though it was far too late for the act (I was already several months pregnant), my gentile husband crushed the glass under his shoe. Then we left our relatives behind for a few hours, changed into jeans and sweaters, and headed up to the Crest. The aspen already were changing, just a bit, and we stayed until the sun began to set on the Autumnal Equinox.

 

I love being married. I love the stability of it. I love the certitude. I fell in love with a man who loved music and made art, and I adore those things about him still. I love that he knows more than I do about the things I don’t want to know too much about, like North Korea.

 

Several years ago, I became post-menopausal after having my ovaries removed. Life with lower levels of hormones is much calmer. But I miss them anyway. Hormones pull our lovers to us; our scent changes. Fertility is enticing. Listen, sex will always be fun, but there’s an urgency, a life-driving, deep growl in the throat, ache in the belly that’s only there when the hormones roar up and demand attention. That time is gone for us. Maybe in another 23 years I’ll stop thinking about that, or maybe I’ll always feel the difference with a little bit of loss and sadness.

 

So it’s Thursday night at the studio, and I’m asking my students what will make their new year sweet. It’s the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, perfectly timed to coincide with the Fall Equinox. We don’t make resolutions at this new year. Instead, we are commanded to head to a body of water and cast away our sins and shortcomings. We are invited to start the year clean. Then we dip apples in honey to ensure a sweet new year. That’s all we ask, not that we lose weight or run 100 miles or get a new job. We just set this one intention: may the new year be sweet.

 

And here’s what I thought for my sweet year. I’ve been reading this super cheesy but unexpectedly hot fantasy series. The faerie males are, like, big and buff and possessive, total stereotype. They have a keen sense of smell, and the smell of the woman they love – their mate – drives them crazy. As embarrassing as this is, those passages detailing sexy time with horny faerie males and the women they love for all eternity, yeah, they get my engines going. Sexy time with my hot non-faerie husband is just a bit more urgent. That’s what I want for my new year. I want to read more books that make me hot.

 

And you? What will make your new year sweet? Or sweaty? What will make your new year peaceful and blessed? What will be your tiny contribution to a world that’s more peaceful?


May we all have enough. May we all be blessed, and may we all share our blessings. May we all know the intense rich sweetness of our lives.