Funny thing is,
that when Eija turned up to yoga, she reminded me that three decades ago, give or take a year or two, she and I were wearing the very same black footless tights in the Senior girls Jazz Ballet class at the Youth Club as we were wearing now.
I've no doubt that Eija could wear the same actual pair of tights all these years later, being tall and skinny and Finnish, unlike me. Who'd have thought, Eija, that here we would be in the same dance tights in the diabolical hot yoga room decades later?
Her mentioning this of course prompted a sudden vision of Jazz Ballet, and Eija's hilariously serious face, her wildly curly hair and long ungainly arms and legs flying around out of time. Those moves were so ridiculous, of course if you were to adopt one of the steps in isolation you would look like a complete idiot: I was, therefore, continuously laughing in class, whereas she was always quite earnest. How can you be serious when standing in warrior pose, knees pointing simultaneously east and west, pelvic thrusting to the first dozen or so lines of Michael Jackson's Can You Feel It? Made me crack up every time. Week after week as we learnt more steps the song grew longer, at first we filled an enitire hour with endless repetitions of can you feel it can you feel can you FEEL it, till at last we knew the whole thing and could perform it beginning to end. I never ever failed to laugh at the opening moves, when we all jumped forward into this pose like lunatics and began gyrating and shimmying. Oh even now I only have to hear it and I laugh, I get the urge to leap forward and extend my arms. Throw my head back, shake my shoulders: yep, I can feel it.
Way back then we had little idea that one day we would have daughters the same age, going to the same dance class, with the same teacher. Our daughters, strangely enough, could pass as sisters with their white straight hair and vaguely nordic faces. Who on earth could have known that? Who could have seen the future end of year concerts, watching in exquisite agony for hours on end, our girls perform in their sparkly home made jazz ballet costumes. Not to Michael Jackson, but to Britney Speers. To my eternal astonishment my glittery creations never actually fell apart on stage, despite having constructed them with a hot glue gun instead of a sewing machine. I'm quite proud of that. Eija of course used the more conventional methods, so naturally never had to worry about potential wardrobe malfunctions.
Eija has started yoga, now, like me. She started two weeks ago, and I have been coming for eight.
She saw me down at the beach and commented how well I looked and I explained, well, perhaps Eija it is this hot yoga I am doing, and she was very intrigued, because everybody knows about the Bikram Yoga studio which is said to be an inferno and not for the faint hearted. Naturally, I love it, being a rather extreme kind of person, and I warned Eija that sometimes when I leaned over in a pose I dripped sweat like a shower in a pattern on my towel, like rain, that it was so hot I looked like a glazed ham on my first day, that I absolutely ran like a river, that I sometimes shook with the exertion.
She wasn't having any of it naturally: I'm Finnish, she said. I can cope with hot saunas, and it looks like its doing you the world of good.
And so Eija came too. She did, I noted, have the good grace to look as much like a beetroot as I did on her first day.
Next thing I had coffee with Elizabeth at the beach cafe and she remarked, oh you are looking well, when is it you are off to Italy? and I said oh why thank you Elizabeth it must be the hot yoga not very long now just a couple of weeks and next thing Elizabeth turned up at yoga too, though the thing with Elizabeth is that she can talk paint off a wall and if you aren't careful she will tell you about all her children's births or something unpleasantly intimate like that, and since she has four children including twins this is not just unpleasant but time consuming. I know very well all these birth stories: once I was stuck in a hot tub with her and had to hear each one blow by blow until I could stand it no longer and told her that the hot tub was making my feet peel and that made her hop out very quick smart in order to avoid having to simmer herself in hot water containing small bits of my feet: I consider this to have been a stroke of genius on my part.
So on Thursday at hot yoga there were five of us from the beach counting the Little Hen and Sarah the Beautiful, all sweating away together waiting to begin when Elizabeth asked me again when is it you go to Italy I have forgotten already and then Eija made the remark about wearing the same tights to jazz ballet and how much we loved that Michael Jackson song, and I said, yeah, Eija, really we should go down to the beach and do that dance together on the sand right in front of the cafe on a Sunday just for the hell of it because it is so funny, I imagined she would be quite serious while I of course would be weak with laughter, because some things don't change.
But after that I went home drenched and looking like Baked Ham, and my daughter who looks like Eija's daughter called out suddenly Michael Jackson died and I thought how very strange, I was only just talking about him not one hour ago.
I called out to her up the stairs to come down and I would show her some really cool dancing to Michael Jackson if she liked but she said no that would be highly disturbing thank you very much so I did it anyway and sang as loudly as I could because really, it seemed appropriate, and such a shame to deprive her.