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I thought I needed board shorts. It was recommended that I had some if I was going to stay on the Salvadoran coast for any length of time. The pressure to pack and leave Seattle, and the ‘to do’ list associated with the process was overwhelming. The post presidential election energy was emotionally exhausting to top it off. I was struggling that last day, and the energy demand to go searching for a pair of boardshorts in Seattle in winter seemed like enough to break me. Knowing I had a 7 hour layover in Miami, I quickly took that shopping trip off my list, with the thought that I would for sure be able to find some shorts in the Miami airport…
When the Miami layover arrived, loaded up with my backpack -yoga mat attached-I set off. I approached each shop asking for ‘boardshorts’ initially. After much unanticipated confusion, I started calling them ‘beach shorts’. Eventually I was just asking for ‘shorts’. Any shorts. Or thoughts on shops where I might find shorts. I walked into any and every shop – now on a mission for information as opposed to thinking that the shop would have anything I actually needed. I approached a swanky upscale men’s clothing store and was greeted by a beautiful man, with a nice smile, who offered me the idea that in the next terminal I could find what I was looking for. As I was walking out of the store he yelled after me ‘Namaste’. I wasn’t anticipating this. Stunned, I turned, barely letting a ‘thank you’ tumble out of my mouth.
My search continued unsuccessfully for far too long. Trekking through the terminals with all my carry-on, backpacker gear weighing me down. On my way back to my gate I passed one shop with shorts. I was ecstatic for a minute, I quickly bought a pair, made a mad dash to the bathroom to try them on, only to find they fit terribly, and so, with disappointment I returned them. By now I was fully accepting that this was not the time or place that I would buy shorts, I caught myself mumbling “WTF, I can make do with what I have. I can’t be the first person to live on a surfing beach without proper boardshorts.”
I decided to stop by and thank the guy at the swanky men’s store for the ‘Namaste’ – that interaction had at least felt good that morning amidst the internal uncertainty I was feeling. I chose to tell him a little about my journey, my unknown year of travel that was set to begin with a flight to El Salvador leaving within the hour. I talked about teaching yoga, the type of yoga, places and people I teach. He told me he was also a yoga teacher. At a YMCA. We had a moment of shared understanding about yoga as public health, publicly accessible versus the elitist Lulu Lemon scene that so often plays out. He validated my choice to travel, to teach and to learn. He validated both the excitement and the hardness in making that choice. “It is hard in our world to follow the path of our souls”, he said. “Some people think we are human beings having spiritual experiences, but really we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” With my jaw on the floor, he introduced himself as Miguel as we said goodbye. I walked out of the shop, and as I looked up I found myself staring directly at a giant art installation reading….”Peace and Love”.
I laughed. Out loud. In terminal D of the Miami airport. It was never about the shorts. I needed my decision to break away from my life to be affirmed. I needed a solid reminder, that in this time, when fear and oppression so often feel like they are ‘winning’ that the path is always “Peace and Love”.
And, you know what? I seem to be surviving just fine without proper boardshorts on the coast of El Salvador.