Stepping Out of The Box...Way Out

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At this age, I rarely step out of the box.  I don’t know how big YOUR box is but mine basically encompasses a five mile radius around my house. Except my gynecologist is like 30 miles away because I moved seven years ago and am too afraid to change. I am basically petrified of change. It started in kindergarten when we went on our first field trip. I freaked out getting on a bus in the middle of the day, seeing my teacher in sneakers, going to pet goats at the local zoo when I’m normally at my desk drawing pictures of my house.

For some reason this has stayed with me.

So now that I’ve shared this with you along with about seven therapists over the last 20 years, you may find it odd that I decided to attend a woman’s retreat in Santa Barbara, California, even more odd that it was an EXERCISE retreat, as we all know how I feel about that.

 The whole thing came about on a girl’s night after three Titos and tonics. I also decided to try my first Old Fashioned that night. So when my friend Leslie who runs the retreat and happened to be down here on business said, “You guys should come,” I was like “OMG YES! We have to go to this retreat! I love retreats!” and before I knew it plane tickets were bought and I was registered.

 The next day, I woke up and remembered I hate retreats. First off, the word retreat makes me think of a bunch of woman staying in yurts and pooping in coffee cans while living in the wild for four days and discussing their feelings. So, that is totally not my thing. Not to mention going to Santa Barbara involves traveling. It involves planes where people cough and sneeze and sometimes even take their shoes off. It involves hours of desperate boredom, while making a mental list of all the things I forgot to pack. It involves me saying “yes” when the flight attendant says “Are you willing to handle the duties of sitting in an exit row?” and knowing in my head “Yes I’m willing because I will be the first one out of this fucker.”

Basically, I’m not really into traveling.

But I had committed. I had rallied the troops. My friends were already signed up. Rooms had been selected. I couldn’t get out of it. I had to go. And so, last week at 4 am my friend picked me up in an Uber and we headed to Tampa International to board a 6 am flight. And lucky for us, our driver was a morning person, and not just a morning person but like a middle of the night person. So he was able to tell us, in a very loud voice, at 4 am as I said, how yesterday there had been an accident and he had been rerouted to the Gandy Bridge from I -275. And it was great because he was able to keep the conversation going for the whole thirty minute ride! 

 Anyway, about four days later when we landed,  I found one of the great things about California is even though you may have been traveling all day and feel like it’s already tomorrow, when you get there the day is just starting! The sun is out, there is a clean breeze in the air, people are walking around with oat milk lattes. They are nice, friendly, wanting to help. Except for the California Uber driver who apparently has never picked up a passenger that has a suitcase with nine pairs of shoes in it. Of course it’s heavy. He continued to state the obvious all during the fifteen minute trip. 

We arrive at this house that epitomizes California Dreaming. Imagine Lucy and Desi and Bob Hope and probably Liza Minnelli, if she was sober enough to make it down the block, standing around a pool, drinking martinis and talking about their “pictures.” This is the pool that you would imagine, surrounded by chaise lounges, cement frogs that spit water, ornate tile planters cemented right onto the outside walls, and all of this surrounded by lush purple bougainvillea. A good medium could have a hey day there.

Plus, there was a pool bar with an open bottle of cold rose’. Honey, I’m home.

Then the women started to arrive and of course my first thought was to take the bottle of rose to my room and shut the door because I don’t really socialize well. I mean I like to listen and observe but I don’t really like to participate. And I mean it when I say, It’s Not You, It’s Me. I’ve been like this since birth. I imagine the doctor slapped me on the butt when I emerged from the birth canal and I was like, “I really don’t feel like talking right now.”

So everyone got comfy in bathing suits and the wine began to flow and guess what? I loved these women. Each one was different yet we were all so alike, all of us had a story to tell and all of them so interesting. At home, my friend and I sit at my sister’s pool at the end of each day, for an hour or so, just to gather our thoughts and touch base with each other. One day she said, “Oh Amy, what’s to become of us?” and I was like “THIS! THIS! This is what’s become of us!”

Now, we had new stuff to talk about! We must have sat out there for hours and talked and laughed and by the end of the afternoon we were all like old friends. We were so excited about our next four days, all the fun and adventures we would have. So Leslie and Carole who btw is a chef and thank you Carole for these new four pounds after a year of Weight Watchers, said, “Ladies let’s take a look at the itinerary!” and they handed out a paper with a schedule for the next four days and I was like Okay, I get it it’s an exercise retreat as it showed Leslie teaching a barre/hip hop dance class every morning. Okay. Fine.

Then I saw on day 2 a beach club! We’re going to a beach club! I’m going to be in a club! And it’s at the beach! Yay!

And then I looked at day three and my blood ran cold. No, I thought. No. This is not what I signed up for. There must be some mistake. My heart began to pound and sweat gathered along my hairline. This is worse than the poop in coffee cans. Is this someone’s idea of a hideous joke? I know you’re wondering what, what is this horrible thing? Do you have to partake in a Naked and Afraid episode? Is there a weird spiritual leader that happens to look a lot like Charles Manson coming to lead you in chants? Is it meditation? I bet you think it’s meditation.

No. Worse. Way worse.

Disco yoga on the beach.

Next week I will tell you if I decided to partake, if I decided to make an ass of myself in front of California people doing weird things with my arms and feet on a public beach. And I have other stuff to tell you as well.

Stay tuned.