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It shouldn't be too hard, coming back after a little over a week. There is the familiar smell of freshly-varnished wood floor, the new smell of wall paint, the faint scent of Zebra mats, the warm displacement in the air hinting at the arrival of summer. Putting the gi and hakama back on, tying the fabric in place, tugging at the loose ends to smooth out the uniform, even that is a comforting reminder of how it should be. I line up, clap to bow in, and the training starts.
And I thought I paced it right but suddenly everything seems to speed up, and Sensei says for everyone to give it an extra 20 or 25% more speed, and Sempai goes around to tell us the same thing: "Get back up! Attack, attack! Hurry up, let's go!," and I feel the impact of the mats with every takedown along my back, my calves, my palms as I slap the surface, and feel the bruises starting on my knees and elbows, those sharp joints that have had too much time away to remember the conditioned pain, and the sweat starts on my forehead and slides into my brows and eyes, and I could feel the beads glide down my front and back underneath the shielding layers of shirt and gi, pooling at the cinched belt, soaking into the fabric like tears on snow, and the summer air is more apparent now—thickened and heavy with the scent of collective perspiration—and suddenly there seems to be not enough of it as I forget to keep my breathing rhythm and start to gasp, but don't look at that clock because the minute hand has not c
One month later from the start of May, and I'm sitting here wondering if my next blog entry would finally be one that doesn't involve the subject of illness. May 1st started me off with a normal cold/sore throat, which led to an extended cough that required antibiotics, which really didn't help as the cough transitioned into seasonal allergies. I got my first migraine ever coming back up from a Southern California trip. I had to schedule an emergency dentist appointment to re-seal a tooth's crown that suddenly popped off during flossing. Just a few weeks ago, even my work computer caught a virus. But the worst that happened was I caught a stomach bug and ended up missing the entire annual Gasshuku at Lake Tahoe.
It must have been adrenaline that got me there, and every day, I woke up in the hotel room with the hope that I could hobble to the gym and train at least one session, only to have that hope shot down by yet another trip to the bathroom. As I lay groaning in bed, wishing it could have been any other way, I wondered if I had been a bad Buddhist lately and missed a vegetarian day, or forgot to help my fair share of old ladies across the street to get that big of a karmic kick in the butt.
It must have been adrenaline that got me back. The prospect of home, of comfort foods my body was used to processing when it's ill, of the Bay Area's signature warm and healing sunlight instead of a white world of wind and snow. With four days and five pounds lost, it was diffic