At 10am Heather meets her friend Erin, without much enthusiasm, at Muja Yoga. She only agreed to the exercise date because she’d felt grateful to Erin for keeping her secret. The line for the 10:15 class is already out the door. Women and even a few eager looking men wait to check in. Everyone exercises in LA.
“Looks like you’re feeling better,” Erin says, with her wide toothy smile and pulls her thick brown hair into a ponytail.
“I’ve overcome IBS and agoraphobia,” Heather says sarcastically and tucks her purple yoga mat under her arm.
“Mary suckered Staci Anderson into taking over your auction job,” Erin says as they make a small step forward in line.
Heather remembers working with Staci on a kindergarten Thanksgiving Feast. Staci was late, forgot the Indian corn and overcooked the sweet potatoes. Mary’s standards mustn’t have been too high. Suddenly, Heather feels more insulted than relieved.
Inside the tiny yoga office, two hundred and fifty dollar yoga classes, beaded necklaces, self-help books and forty-dollar flip-flops are for sale. A tall blonde cuts ahead of Erin and Heather. She flashes a laminated membership card to the woman sitting behind the desk.
“Hillary,” Erin says in a friendly tone.
The blonde faces Erin and it’s Soccer Mom 2.0. Pug nosed, expressionless face, she’s wearing all new Lulu Lemon. Heather can’t believe down-to-earth Erin is introducing her to the Fembot. Heather fakes a smile. The woman’s name is Paige Summerville. She looks at Heather as if she’s never seen her before. Their daughters have been on the same team for weeks.
Heather walks into the sunlit yoga studio. She puts her shoes in a cubby then steps in a puddle of sweat from the previous class that didn’t get mopped up. She unrolls her mat next to Erin’s in the back corner of the room, wishing she’d stayed home. Heather used to love yoga. Being naturally flexible, it’s an easy exercise for her but now it makes her feel like a walking cliché: A Starbucks cup, iphone and yoga mat. If that doesn’t define the stereotypical California Mom then what does?
“There’s no room up front,” Paige says, shrugs and unrolls her mat disappointedly next to Heather and Erin. Paige snubbed her last week after Kaitlin missed the winning goal. If Paige had offered any sort of condolence to Kaitlin she might’ve been tolerable. However, her snobbery made Heather furious. Now, they are two inches apart on the crowded floor.
“I’m so looking forward to this,” Erin says as a tall man walks in using a cane and turns on music. He instructs the class to set their intentions and take a downward dog pose. Heather glances at Paige’s concentrated face, her long, lean body twisting into a cobra position. Heather’s intention is set. She will outdo Paige in every possible position for the next hour and a half.
Class begins. Quickly, the room heats and the windows cloud with steam. With each half moon and triangle pose Heather pushes her body painfully into the farthest realms of discomfort. Paige glances enviously at her perfect positioning. Heather wills herself to ignore the excruciating pain and the pull of her hamstrings. She moves through each pose like a limber teenager. There’s the smell of body odor and sage. Paige can’t keep up.
The music changes, one fast paced song to the next, then finally it slows. At the end of the class, Heather lies in savasana in a sweaty t-shirt.
The music stops, students roll up their mats. Heather sits up victorious and dizzy.
“You’re amazing at yoga,” Erin says. “I know we shouldn’t compare but I swear you were the best in class. You should come with me more often.”
“Maybe I will,” Heather says watching as Paige quickly gathers her things and leave. “How do you know her?” she asks.
“Our sons play football together,” Erin says. “She’s a nightmare.”
“But, you were so friendly to her,” Heather says.
“Her husband is the coach. Sometimes you just have to play the game, you know,” Erin says as she stands and rolls up her mat.
Heather nods, every muscle in her body aching and feeling this time she’s won.
Note: The ModernMom Chronicles is a fictional novel. The story is not a personal blog, nor is it based on existing people or events.