For the first time in over a year and a half, I dropped my daughter off at her theatre camp program in Nyack and went for a long walk. For years, this was a regular practice of mine; drop her off, park in my special secret free parking spot, and either start walking or take an aerial yoga class at Soul Flyte. These were the special self-care rituals that had become sacred to me, ending with a coffee and snack at Art Cafe, one of my favorite places on the planet.
Of course, COVID-19 put a hard stop to all of that.
Now, me and my family are vaccinated and I am trying to step (slowly) back into that sacred space. Today, after dropping her off and parking, I started walking. I didn’t have a particular direction I needed to go, I just needed to go. I walked down South Broadway, where all of the old historic houses sit with the beautiful flowers and landscaping. It reminded me of an old beach town and made me smile.
I got to the thruway overpass and decided my anxiety didn’t feel like navigating the noise and bustle of the traffic rushing under me, so I took a hard left and walked down to Piermont Ave, another road with beautiful houses running adjacent to the Hudson River. Peaceful, calm, and exactly what I needed. A little further along is an open park near the marina, with a gazebo where two people were getting ready for a boxing workout, and then a pier that overlooks the Tappan Zee (sorry, Mario Cuomo) Bridge. I passed by the workout duo, smiled and said “good morning”, and took a rest at the pier, breathing and stretching for a few minutes while listening to the water lapping upon the rocks. It was a familiar feeling that I had missed terribly.
I continued on my walk through the park until I found my way to the back roads and came to Soul Flyte. Another familiar wave came to me, tinged with a little anxiety over the fact that I had been away so long. Sometimes, when you are trying to come back to something you left, returning doesn’t feel the same. Things change, you change, and I was worried that it would feel…wrong.
I opened the door, heard the jingle, and took a whiff of the scented Souls Flyte air. I hear my teacher, Kate, barking her instructions in her “Sergeant Kate” way behind the closed door of the studio. It didn’t feel wrong. I spoke to the gal behind the desk, a lovely stranger who was happy to hear my “attempt to return” story, and it felt like home. I even have a few classes left on my old pre-COVID class card that I’m hoping I can use. I left feeling encouraged, even excited to return to something I had found so challenging and comforting, all at the same time.
Of course, the return to Nyack wouldn’t be complete without my visit to Art Cafe. As I walked, I’d say “good morning” to people I’d pass, and it is magical to see their faces change from serious to smiling in an instant. It reinforced the fact that COVID hasn’t won. Maybe we’ve changed some, and in many ways we’ve evolved, but we are all still here looking for a spark of connection to make someone else smile.
Speaking of evolving, Art Cafe now has a pickup window outside to order and carry out. I got my iced decaf Americano and morning glory muffin and again, it made me smile. I sat on a chair and enjoyed to new-agey music, talked to a woman about her sweet dog on a leash, and listened to the chirpy birds just waiting to swoop in to get some crumbs.
All in all, it was a successful return to one of my beloved self-care rituals. Walked 2.5 miles, breathing fresh air and mindfully taking in my surroundings. Best of all, the morning glory muffin was as delicious as I remembered it to be.