I like you, today

Nevermind that I woke up at 4:19 this morning. Today was a good day. After mailing off another set of errors to earn my degree, I had all day today to do whatever I wanted. I wanted to wake up at 6:30 or 7 but pre-4:30 gave me a few hours to just lie there and think. At 6:30, I got up, made my tea, and went to the park with Quincy and Luke. While Luke lapped me a few times, Q and I blew our ghost breaths over the crispy grass, and I thought about what Luke said last night:

“You know, I know you don’t think Denver has much merit, but it really is a nice place to live.”

We were heading down South Broadway past the wig shop and the 7-Eleven, the Jiu-Jitsu studio and the Mayan Theater marquee.

I slowed down. “Do you really think I think that?”

“Well, maybe not in those harsh of terms…”

We passed the Victorian homes I covet more than I should and the tiny Asian lady’s 3rd Street Market. Luke, by then, had started explaining to me the difference between an entrepreneur and a person who own her own business, but I was thinking about how I should try to be a better advocate for this home we’ve chosen.

This morning, after lollygagging around the park, I went to Pilates, which is taught by a woman named Ruth (my grandma’s name, my confirmation name), whom I’ve had as a teacher before at the comfortable albeit corporate gym where I work out. She has a head of maroon hair that curls toward her face like a halo of curious C’s.

“Drop those anchors from your shoulders and down to your hips,” she instructed, sitting Indian-style, and wiggling her tight old lady booty on her Mexican mat (I know it’s from Mexico because she told us the story once in Silver Sneakers class). (Silver Sneakers is the class at my gym for old people, one of a few I take where I’m the youngest one by two generations). Blame it on these knees.

I had planned on breaking a little sweat, but I left two layers on during the hour-long class. In Pilates with me were two other young woman and a large black man who Ruth had to keep readjusting. Every time she did, she’d say, “Is it ok if I fix you?” and he’d say, “Oh, please do.”

Ruth has a belly like a saucepot, but crazy-strong legs and surprising flexibility. From pigeon pose (in seated position, one leg tucked under your hips, the other straight back), she can bring her back leg up and catch it with her hand, then hinge her entire upper body backwards to grab that hind foot with both hands.

All the while, she keeps a calmness. “Do you feel that?” she says it almost orgasmically, beaming and relaxed but utterly energized, and because she’s looking straight at you, you feel pretty good, too. “We never get to breathe like this in real life! Just breathe right into everywhere you want! Your lymph nodes! Your ribs!” We do.

At the end, we do this really funny thing while all the weight lifters watch through the full-length glass windows to our right: we chug air in, three times, and each time, our arms go higher and higher on each side until they are above our heads, at which point, we give an exhale with a gust and we swing our head and hands down between our knees then swing back up to standing. All this we repeat three times, and at the end, Ruth applauds for us and we applaud for her and the day feels like it will be happy and healthy and that the world, right here, is a good place to live.

I left Pilates and bought some groceries. Mostly things we’ve needed for a long time, but keep forgetting to buy: Whole wheat flour. Lotion. Toothpaste. I dumped honey, oil, hot water, and wheat flour into the breadmaker and pressed start. I went to the Tattered Cover and sat in a coral-colored velvet chair for an hour and read a book I never want to end. Then I drove downtown to the library to find the books I couldn’t afford at the bookstore. A man in the elevator said he liked what he saw. A man on the third floor was licking all his fingers over and over again. When I got back down to the first floor, someone asked me if I had lost a glove. I paid my $15 library fine (sorry, Luke, I’m bad at these things, I’ll admit it here to set things straight: getting things that I don’t own returned on time; washing my car; making doctors appointments). But I'm good at baking bread and trying to get something done every day.

Two minutes after I walked in the door, the bread machine beeped: done.

This loaf has a just-right caramel sheen I hadn’t yet achieved with our less-than-perfect bread machine. I squirreled a chunk off the bottom and made another pot of tea. I'm laying on our chocolate couch now, tucked in like a toddler in winter. The sun dove behind the mountains a few minutes ago and the sky tonight has no hint of pink, just yellows sewed up with blues, like a light hanging inside a lake. The last two weeks, we spent on the West Coast, in the desert, and wondering through the reds of New Mexico.

“Let’s go back to Santa Fe,” Luke says from the office as I’m writing this.

But I like Denver today, and today, it likes me too.