As I sat on my mat waiting for class to begin, I breathed deep, relaxing in the warmth of the room. Literally. It was at least 85 degrees and we hadn’t even started moving. The moist heat settled around me like a blanket, warming my body, preparing me for my practice. Ahhhh. This was why I had come.
The instructor set the music low and walked to the front of the class. Then she said this:
“I’d like everyone to get up and meet someone they don’t know. Introduce yourself and tell them your favorite childhood story.”
I sat there, unmoving, while everyone else began milling around the room.
Okay, what was my favorite childhood story? Does she mean a book I read, or one that someone else read to me? What the hell was my favorite childhood story?
And so I sat, for what turned out to be a conspicuous amount of time, preparing for the introduction.
A flash of memory hit me; I’m eight years old, sitting in the back of my parent’s car, reading. The book was blue and hardcover.
Was it about witches? What was it called?
I didn’t know. The only thing I could remember was that I never marked my page. I started over from the beginning each time. It was like, a thing. I never did finish it.
No way, too neurotic. What kind of favorite childhood story is that?
One minute slipped into two. The rest of the class milled about above, tossing names of books about, all innocence and ease.
“…I loved Goodnight Moon…,” “…and he read The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Oh yes, and remember The Pokey Little Puppy?”
It began to get slightly weird that I was the only one still sitting.
They probably think I’m purposely not participating. That I’m being a jerk or something. But what’s the point of getting up until I have something to say? What is your problem? Books are your thing, jackass.
And then the instructor headed my way.
Great. Now I’m the lonely kid who needs a friend. WTF.
She knelt in front of me and smiled, her blue eyes drilling into my shallow, story-less soul. “I always loved The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.”
Of course you did.
“Yeah,” I said, sweating like a kid failing a pop quiz, “that one was good.”
And if my life depended on remembering a sentence from that book right now, I’d be dead.
She waited, those eyes plumbing the depths of my sad little life. “What was your favorite childhood story?”
Yeah, thanks. I remember the assignment.
“Even a Disney movie is fine.”
Now I’m the girl who doesn’t read? Super.
I fidgeted and smiled. I was completely blank. And then, my mind latching onto the Disney prompt like a life preserver, this came out, “I always liked Bambi, I guess. You know, how her mom dies in the fire.”
I wish I could say that I’d planned it. I wish I could take credit for the way those penetrating blue eyes widened, then settled into a curious squint. Sadly, no. There was no calculated manipulation, no purposeful play to appear crazy. Just me being a spaz.
And while it is true that Bambi left an impression on me as a child, it was more because the fire terrified me than because it was a favorite, exactly. But back me into such a tight social corner as an unexpected introduction in a room full of strangers and apparently all bets are off.
She slipped back to the front of the room, watching me a little as she went. As she told everyone to return to their mats, I couldn’t help but smile.
As if it wasn’t bad enough that I’d recalled Bambi as my favorite story because the mother dies in a fire, I’m pretty sure that Bambi was a boy deer, not a girl. I had gone from sad and lonely to strange and delusional in about 2 seconds.
So much for the new yoga studio.