I’m in the habit of buying myself presents. It’s a tradition I started one summer when I attended three weddings in as many months and spent a small fortune on bridesmaid dresses, lavish parties and far too many round-trip bus fares.
My logic: If I could afford to spend so much on others, then I could afford to spend something on me too.
And with that, I bought myself a birthday present: a brass console table from Crate & Barrel. At the time, it was one of the few pieces of furniture I owned that I didn’t inherit from friends, pick off the street, or need to assemble with the world’s tiniest wrench.
I named it Skinny Table.
In continuing with that birthday tradition, last year I treated myself to something extra special: a week-long aerial workshop in Denver.
What I expected was a five-day version of the classes I took in New York where a few other 30-somethings and I could stumble through some basic skills like single knee hook climbs and tying knots with our feet.
What I got was a summer camp attended exclusively by children. I was welcome to work on those climbs and locks, but I would be doing so alone… and in between several designated snack breaks.
“Am I the only adult?” I asked the woman at the front desk the first morning as she expertly stepped over several children stretching directly in front of the studio door.
“We once had another adult learner!” she said brightly. “Well. Actually we had a mom take a class one time with her daughter.”
I’m not sure why I was surprised that the workshop was for children. I should have realized that there wasn’t much of a market for adult gymnastics outside of New York. And I should have know that most grown women don’t spend their summer vacations practicing their handstands. The studio didn’t really need to advertise that it was for children, because really, who else did I think their classes would be for?
I stayed. Because I was already there. And I paid for it. And I really did want to learn how to tie those foot locks.
At some point during the week, I asked a 12 year-old take a picture of me doing the following pose, which felt like a small victory since it required one foot lock and a single climb to execute. (In return, she asked me to take her to the mall after class.)
You’ll notice there are several 7 year-olds in the background of this photo. I was only slightly more advanced than they were, most likely owing to the fact that I was the only one old enough to have a real attention span.
In the end, I didn’t regret staying, though I certainly wouldn’t sign up for another workshop. I much prefer training in New York, where most everyone is in their 20s and 30s and we can all open our snacks unassisted.
One year later…
As you may recall, in the lead up to turning 33, I got overwhelmingly depressed about how little I seemed to have accomplished in the past twelve months. My progress in aerial class didn’t come to mind during those posts mostly because silks is my hobby – not a life goal by which I measure success. Even if I do sometimes joke that I want to join the circus, I know I never will.
And that’s too bad, because just a year after the camp in Denver, I was able to not only hit a similar pose, but add a trick. The day before I turned 33, this is what I did.
(If you’re reading via an email subscription click here to see the video).
It’s still not perfect, but it’s progress. And I’ll take it…. Like the gift that it is.
Bonus video: The full set up for the trick can be seen here.