The family returned from Colorado about four hours ago, in terms of landing, and ninety minutes ago, in terms of front door. We have now seen both sets of grandparents (one in the Boston area, one frequently in Philadelphia, but currently in Colorado) by air. Hah! Travelling with a five- and now a seven-month old has been some serious challenge, and yet, some serious reward.
I can FEEL the added patience work, from the summer, accruing. I feel it when I look at my bank accounts and when I start a winter practice in the living room, and in other places. I feel it in my non-road-rage.
We left on a Saturday for Colorado--yes, Colorado, in JANUARY (are we mad??)--and got forty minutes of futzing plane delay for no explicit purpose, and the boy was fussing. The packing had been outRAGEous. Diapers and all baby gear, where to put the bottles, how to pack the duck tub (yes, inflatable duck tub), whether to bring grownup clothing changes AT ALL (extra bags cost you more, yo), and so on and so on and so on. There was so much travel that one day, and so little sleep, including the boy being up and curious for TWO HOURS of the flight out, that when we finally landed in a hotel at 7 pm local time (9 pm eastern, and Indiana, ridiculously, is Eastern, not Central, even though I doubt Chicago is an hour west of here), the fussing had turned into full-on tired screaming. I called in a pizza and we put the boy to bed and called it a night. The next morning--after what could be at BEST four hours of scattershot sleep--we met J's parents at the continental breakfast and her brother came out to drive us UPWARD another four thousand feet and two hours.
Blissfully, the boy slept on the ride in the massive EXPEDITION (have you ever been INSIDE one of those fucking things? It's like, quite literally, being swallowed by a gigantic, heavy metal whale, with wheels). Frisco, Colorado. Nine thousand feet high. I've done a Primary series on the porch of that condo before. Unfuckingbelievable beautiful weather, clear blue skies, winter air, that altitude. A purity in the physical realm that calendars lust after. Snowcapped peaks, but not cliche anymore; the REAL thing. Walk out into the driveway and look east and you can see a 14,000 foot peak which I dragged J up to the top of, a couple years ago.
But most of our time here was spent inside, on the floor, entertaining the boy who is learning to crawl. He can either put knees under or press his hands down, so basically, he can either do Anahatasana (chest to floor) or Urdhva Mukha Svanasana. But he can also swivel, in a circle, and quickly. All of the pieces of crawl are there. I encourage him, even though his ability to crawl will drastically reduce my already reduced free time. Right now, I can refill a coffee cup, and leave him on the floor. When he's crawling, no way Jose.
The next day, with increasing cloudiness, and after ridiculously bad sleep where the boy refused to sleep consistently for more than FORTY MINUTES AT A TIME, ALL NIGHT LONG, we decide to get our cross-country skiing on. After a two-year lapse. Now sure, I can put a foot behind my head and I can surf gravity on my hands for about four poses worth, and so forth, but X-country skiiing KICKED MY ASS. Up and down the street! It was, of course, silly pretty, like LOTR pretty, in the once-forested-now-kinda-scrubby-pine plains of snow, and there was quiet like you CANNOT get in populated areas, and a defiant, almost SPOOKY nature, the kind that Jack London knew, that kind that WILL EAT YOU, but in that prettiness, I hit exhaustion that had me cracking up with laughter, there was just no other way to handle it. Trance and persistence and laughter. It wasn't the altitude or the low oxygen either; it wasn't the aerobicism of it; it was the sheer muscular demand, through the shoulders, and particularly IN THE FRONT TOP OF THE FOOT. I'm sore THERE, of all places.
I drank water non-stop up there, to defer what was once-upon-a-time bedridden altitude sickness; I remember a migraine that absolutely paralyzed me, my first time at altitude. Not so this time. Not a trace. Of course, when you're up every hour all night, you can drink water at each lap, and become Hydration Itself.
The flight out was 3 pm, two hours away. Snow predicted. We left at 10:30 and drove--in a funny irony of descent from altitude--up to the 10,500 foot pass in order to descend at a 6% grade, to Denver's nice, gentle 5,000 foot altitude. Snow was not disabling, but was consistent. I looked at the reddening, oddly dying forests on the high slopes and saw greenery persist, more densely, at lower heights. I saw a short, roundish tree, a sort of noble shrub or shy ent, clumped around itself on the ground. Rhizome geometry. I looked at every--EVERY--tall rock face that we drove by, seeing the flakes, slopers, crags, jugs, and other potential hand-holds and hand-resisters. Seeing, and thereby TOUCHING, the textures. Yes, I might have climbed only ONCE in the past about ten months, but I still have it in me.
The boy would not eat regularly, not at any time on the whole trip. Our doctor had said, "No problem at altitude, just keep him hydrated." Ok, no worries. HAH! Double-check that: worries! J would work herself into tears trying to feed him and having him resist, purse lips, back-dive and cry. At one point I told her to leave the room and not to go to pieces, and I fed the boy between two mirrored walls; either way he looked, he could see himself, and he was fascinated. Know what a fascinated boy does? He sucks down formula while he doesn't realize it. Rawr! J's mother also did hip-hop-like rhythms to provide like distractions on other occasions. That's pretty hilarious; she's like 72 or something.
So the boy would not eat in the airport, and Frontier airlines, who pride themselves on "the classic" level of care and such and their access to "Direct TV" which claims to show "previews" and actually shows nothing but advertisements ("Now to return to your FREE previews"--uhhh yeah, do you mean my free ADVERTISING? Golly gee I'm glad I'm not paying for you to ask me for my credit card number!) was so half-assed in its announcements regarding boarding that we were trying to change a diaper and wash two bottles by the time the sudden call for boarding began, and then it was panic, and since we'd acquired tickets through an agency, we didn't have seats together, and it was more panic. She had the stroller to gate-check and I had the diaper and bottles and I cleaned up that business and she checked and walked the boy on-plane and then I was sitting next to an immobile elderly couple (it would have been rude to ask them to move) and she was sitting four rows back with a mother-and-daughter couple that would not be broken in two. So we faced our fear of boy-on-plane-with-parents-separate and we survived it.
She even had me come back, mid-flight, pick the boy up, and I changed his diaper ON MY LAP, with pad rolled out, diapers exchanged, and no spills, no jets of urine into the air, no chaos (hah! take THAT, Lars von Trier!!), and cuteness everywhere. I'll say this for the boy: he garners praise and appreciation EVERYWHERE he goes. Everyone likes him. Well, I'm sure there are plane passengers who don't appreciate it when he gets fussy, but most of the time, everyone who comes near him as he's strolled about or who makes eye contact at an airport, gives one of those "awwww you have a cute baby" smiles or comments or knowing nods.
These things are better than puppies, for attention-getting.
I gave him his plastic key-toys at the airport baggage claim and he smiled at me with big, great big shameless eye contact, the kind that grownups are afraid to make. Ok, kid, I'm starting to see the magic reward that grownups talk about. Ok.
I took the massive forty-pound bag and the twenty-pound carseat (what, do you think you can encumber a prior-climber and current-ashtangi? Hah! You CANNOT!) and went to the parking shuttle, got the car, packed it, started it, drove around the parking lot in circles, to Tesla's "Love Song," while the windshield defrosted, and then paid the forty-five bucks, went to get J and the kid, and took a 20 minute screaming-all-the-way drive home, and now there is quiet except for the furnace running and my fingers darting over this keyboard in the rapidfire way they do.
I haven't practiced since December 30. And back then, I was well on the way to recovering my dropbacks. Standups were to knees. So, begin it again!
So, simultaneously the most tiring trip I can ever remember, but then, given how much sleep I've had in the past year, I can't remember much. But also, a weirdly empowering trip, like we not just survived the big wave, but surfed it.