Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rockin the 'Burque

This morning I got up early to do some laundry and then River and I met Mark Frossard for breakfast at the Santa Fe Baking Co. He is part owner of StudioNia Santa Fe where I taught on Tuesday. He bought me breakfast and we chatted about (what else?) Nia. And as usual, River got lots of attention from passers-by, which he loves.

After breakfast I came back to the house I’m staying at with the intention of cooking up the food I bought at the co-op, but Michael’s house cleaner was there, so I sat and kept River out of her way while she finished cleaning up.

Moments after she finished, Michael came home as per our plan, to ride to Albuquerque together where he had a work-related meeting and I was teaching later that evening. While he was in his meeting, I met up with an old friend of mine from New York who had since moved to the ‘Burque. (that’s what the locals call Albuquerque).

This friend of mine had survived a very aggressive cancer and chemotherapy and so we talked a lot about that over a delicious thali plate on the patio at his favorite Indian restaurant. It was great to catch up with him. And it was very refreshing to hear him say that the experience of near death has given him a new, profound appreciation for life. “Everything is important.” He says. “except those things that aren’t. And they really aren’t”. I’ve never been near death myself, but when both of my parents died within six months of each other, I also adopted this life view. Another thing that he said that I think is very significant and instrumental in his recovery was, “At no time during the experience, did I ever think I was going to die.”  And I remember following the saga as he was hospitalized and treated, and there were a few times when we were told he might not make it through. So I’m glad they didn’t tell him that. I believe that his positive mindset played an important role in his recovery and survival.

After lunch I picked up Michael from his meeting and we both went to Studio Sway where I taught ROCKIN again. In this studio they weren’t going to allow River to come inside, but there was a patio area next to a glass wall so I could set up his cage outside and he could still see me and vice versa. 

I set him up with a water dish and some food and went inside. Some of the students were disturbed that he was outside in 101 degree weather. But in the dry desert heat, when you’re out of the sun and have a breeze, it is remarkably pleasant. River, however, was panting with his tongue hanging out, which he almost never does. 

One student named Didi (I don’t know if I’m spelling it right), who had recently lost her pit bull mix companion of 14 years, took pity on us and offered to take River to her house, where he could rest on the unused dog bed in the air conditioning. I was surprised and delighted at the offer. And much to my surprise, River went gleefully into her car and they drove off. 

Class was a blast and the students were totally into it, screaming and partying like they were at a rock concert, which is exactly the effect I want when teaching this. 

After class, Didi brought River back. She reported that when she left him there to come back to the studio, he was already comfortable on the bed, and when she came back to get him, he had been sleeping in the same spot she left him.

The sight, when she was walking back toward the studio with River at the end of the leash, was so adorable. He was pulling hard to get to us, so I called out to her, “You can let him go!” She did and he sprinted into my arms. He was not only happy to see me, but also went over to greet Michael, who he has gotten to know over the past couple of days, and the other people who were out waiting with me, including Erin, who was my producer.

I didn’t realize that Albuquerque was a bigger town than Santa Fe. Admittedly I didn’t know a lot about New Mexico at all, but I was surprised to learn that the population of Santa Fe was only about 65,000 and Albuquerque is almost a million people.

So then we drove back to Santa Fe, had some dinner and chatted until we went to bed.
Erin Damour, fellow Black Belt and producer of this event at Studio Sway

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