I press play on a 30-minute yoga class and the teacher tells me to lie down on my back. It’s 7:15 in the morning, the kids are still in bed, and the cat has been fed.
“Release the weight of your bones,” the teacher says through the TV, “and feel the support of the earth under them.” The cool damp ground is not far away here in the basement.
The cat climbs on my belly and starts kneading and purring, the cat who I finally banned from our bedroom after years of paying for bedtime cuddles with 4 a.m. wakeup calls. I stretch my arms out, the last instruction from the yoga teacher that I am able to follow, and the cat’s warm heaviness pins me down, his purrs vibrate through my core. I let the video keep going, unable to even reach the remote, all the while the teacher keeps telling me to push up into cow pose and downward-facing dog.
Lying here on the ground, instead of making my body into shapes of stars and pyramids, in the deepest part of our house, I think of the murder of crows that will be squawking and honking among the trees and roofs in my neighborhood, beeping and cawing every afternoon now, so loud and cranky, busy and athletic. I see their black shadows slash back and forth as they fly here and then there, and I wonder what conference they are organizing, what controversies they must be arguing.
I am not like them. I let myself be weighed down by cats, children, possessive husbands. I like the feeling of tightness, of not being able to move. It’s swaddling. It’s the heavy blanket in summer. It’s the bear hug from humans twice my size.
This is not the feeling of feet lifting off the ground, light and free, knowing that I could go anywhere, somewhere I don’t recognize, where no one knows me, no one loves me, and the sky is so suffused with light that I could just disappear.
The geometric lines of the digital clock in the basement change formations. In the sunlit world above, sparrows chatter away in a jazzy piccolo orchestra, and soon my son will come down for his pre-summer school workout and see me here.
The cat rearranges his position again, from a rotisserie chicken to an oil spill, his arms stretching into the gulley between my legs. Where our bodies meet, it feels like darkness, the darkness that we descend into when our eyes close and we near the oblivion of sleep.
I crave this blackness. This kind of dark is necessary for life. It may seem that I’m dead, but really I’m just taking pleasure in being tied down.