Pause.

Fourth of July weekend. A few days off the daily grind to relax by the pool, cook everything on a grill and enjoy such classic American pastimes as drinking beer and tanning excessively. I debated heavily back and forth this weekend whether I wanted to spend the time in Connecticut with family or stick around the city to see what the Nickname Posse would get into, but by Thursday, exhausted from a long week and in desperate need of a pause button, I decided I’d sleep in on Friday morning but take the first available train back once I was functional enough to make a coffee and check the schedule. Connecticut is like that for me, a pause button on everything else in life for a crucial few moments, falling asleep and waking up to nature and devoid of real responsibilities during the day. I’m not constantly on my phone when I’m back at home, I don’t bring a computer or use the desktop there that often. Aside from a few Instagrams (because obviously), I stayed pretty off the grid most of the weekend, and it was exactly what I needed, a pause on the crazy before everything picks back up again.

Part of the weekend was a welcome throwback, a concert on the town green which featured the youth orchestra I played in for six years. Yes, I just said youth orchestra and no, I’m not embarrassed. I’m proud of the time I put into playing my instruments, especially since I’m near positive I can’t anymore, and the conductors, a married couple who also teach the band/orchestra at the middle school and have basically shaped a part of the town culture for the past forty years, finally retired; this was their last concert, potentially ever. We rounded up the old group, the only people I still keep in touch with from high school, and surprised the conductors by near-rushing the stage at the end of the performance. After gently chiding us for not grabbing our instruments and playing with them, their first question was of course “what have you all been up to in the past few years?” We looked at each other, and one friend summed up my life perfectly with her next words. Pointing in order to my sister, another friend, herself and then me, she replied “Engaged, married, engaged, yoga.” I laughed so hard at that statement tears ran down my face – what a perfect way to sum up the most important things in our lives since they last saw us all together in 2006.

Sometimes it feels like my life is a romantic comedy, except I’m the quirky best friend who provides advice and comic relief, while the lead characters grow up and move forward. I’m there for the nights out to follow through on the dare from an engaged friend to make out with a stranger, I’m the last-minute date stand-in when something comes up. I’m never left out of the plot for long, but my role isn’t crucial to the love stories taking place around me each day. Simply put, hearing that statement was certainly funny, but as the words sat with me, they were a little challenging as well, laying out pretty neatly how it feels to play second fiddle to everyone else’s lead character navigating the standard milestones of your late 20s. It was nice to be able to go back to my parent’s place after that, grab a towel and head to the front yard for a little yoga on my own, separated from the rest of the family with just my thoughts and the slow movements of a gentle vinyasa flow, a pause button on a weekend that had already paused everything. I needed the meta-pause for a few minutes to gently remind myself that I’m not being left behind, and I’m not doing something wrong. I’m just not living life on the same wavelength of some of the people I love the most, and maybe it’s a scary thing, but it certainly isn’t a bad one.

Yesterday I got home early and sighed with relief at the chance to roll out my mat and stretch in the comfort of my own living room. I worked through a lot of tension in my hips and my back, long, slow stretches that opened up everything, all the anxieties of the past weekend, all the clenched mouth responses to the “of course it’ll be your turn soon!”s that follow me like a mosquito in my ear when I’m trying to fall asleep. After things felt properly bendy, I started to play with arm balances, first a headstand, then a forearm stand, and finally I moved myself to the wall to practice handstands, surprising myself as I find it starting to become easier and easier to hold the pose without the support of the wall. At one attempt I didn’t need the wall at all, until my excited gasp of air at holding the pose brought me back down with a laugh and a rush of endorphins. It was the kind of yoga high that made me so grateful for the pause button that was my life for the two days prior, a chance to set my head on straight again; and finding balance in those two seconds of hangtime in a handstand made me so grateful towards my body and mind for learning to breathe through these challenging moments, both physically and emotionally. A pause button by way of a weekend away recharged my positive energy for the future, and pausing in an almost-handstand reminded me progress and change will come with time. Now it’s time to push play on a new week, a crazy new week, and a new summer season, where the only pause will have to come from me, taking advantage of the precious moments where I can roll out my mat and remind myself that the end goal is just progress – and that’s something I can do all on my own.