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For five years, it sat in a dark corner of my closet. When I pulled it out of the bag, it still looked the same--crisp and white, stiff at the seams, crinkled in areas bent over and over from years of use. When I tried it on, it still felt the same--cottony cool and loose for easy mobility, with a belt tied tight around the abdomen to remind me of correct posture, good etiquette, and decorum.
In reality, my body and its limitations become my inhibitions, but in my dreams, I remember how to fly. I am weightless as air, malleable as water, flowing easily over wrist locks and joint holds, taking tumbles and executing standing rolls with barely a skip in my heartbeat. My breathing is rhythmic and not labored as I train--moving in perfect circles, landing soft, lost in the rhythms of my own body, and the techniques come to me as second-nature as the speakings of my own soul.
Now I start at a different school and don a new gi. My belt is white, my mind an empty cup as it seeks to learn again, from the start. Everything in these initial stages feels awkward, awkward; my body struggles to remember how to move, limbs akimbo as they seek the right positions to start off, to end up.
I know the kanji is different, but I can't help interpreting the first character of "aikido" to mean "love." Five years put on hold as I worked toward my graduate degree and gauged the terrain of the corporate world. Now I go back to one of my first loves. Draping the new uniform over my shoulders,