“So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough” – Elton John and Bernie Taupin
My yoga teacher crush blasted “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” during Savasana the other night. It was my last yoga class in New York City before taking off for Iowa farm country. How apropos.
After we emerged from Savasana and bowed in Namaste, my yoga crush smiled and said something like this to the class, “I hope you like Elton John. I don’t usually play songs with lyrics in Savasana but I found this fitting today for some reason.” Just another
synchronicity that told me I had discovered the right yoga teacher. Noah and I may be leaving our yellow brick road here on Broadway to head to the heartland, but we have just begun our magical journey and we’re not quite ready to go home yet.Flash back to four weeks ago.
After dropping into numerous yoga classes with multiple teachers, I found myself in class with Mike. Now, I don’t know if any of you have had a yoga crush before but this is my first (and the first my husband is hearing about it too. Sorry Joel, it was only a yoga crush, no biggie.) Here’s how it went down: his cues were fabulous, his sequence was intelligent and creative, he was quick to make one-on-one adjustments, he challenged me, taught me a thing or two I didn’t already know, made me laugh out loud, and knew his anatomy down pat. He didn’t practice with the class (a pet peeve of mine.) Rather, he skillfully guided people into poses and watched his students with an eagle eye, making sure to point out things like the direction of my right big toe. He made mistakes and laughed at himself. He had no ego, or, if he did, it wasn’t visible to the class.
He isn’t the type of guy who would turn heads on the street. He has a shock of graying hair, an adorable smile, and is cute in an ordinary guy sort of way. Oh, he looked about my age. So no, it wasn’t a cougar sort of crush. Besides, I hadn’t spoken a word to him.
I’m pretty finicky about yoga teachers. I think I’m allowed to be as I teach yoga for a living when not traveling the country. After a bunch of dud classes, this time I picked a winner. I left class and grabbed a schedule, scanning it to see when Mike taught next. I was at his very next class. It was just as good. No, even better. Apart from the awesome sequence, I liked his off-beat sense of humor and the way he swore in class (he said ass like three or four times at least.) I’m not kidding: if you teach yoga and don’t have a sense of humor, you may as well hang up your lululemon short shorts, at least in my opinion. Sure, you gotta know your stuff but please, don’t make me fall asleep in Warrior 1 with a fake sing-song voice, boring cues and the same old, same old stuff. This class was everything but boring. My crush deepened. I quickly left after the class ended, still without saying a word to the teacher.
The next week, I was back. Class was awesome yet, all through practice, I kept wondering if I somehow had met Mike before. I know…. not very yogic when I was supposed to be stilling my mind. Anyway, he seemed familiar to me. Ok, I admit it. I stared at him a lot, trying to make it not so obvious. But it was more than this.
As luck would have it, we rode the elevator down together after class. He looked at me and asked me where I was from as he hadn’t seen me much before. Here it was….my big chance. Don’t screw it up Robyn (huh, screw what up?) Don’t say something stupid, Robyn. Don’t tell him too much. OMG, talk about monkey mind!!! For Christ sakes, we were in an elevator. I had to say something! So I told him I really enjoyed his class and that I wasn’t from New York. I was just here for about a month. Ok, I opened the door and he stepped right in. “What are you doing in New York?” he asked. By this time we were standing out on the street and he was strapping on his in-line skates (yes, it’s pretty dreamy: he skates to class.) So I gave him the three-minute synopsis: I was in Manhattan with my son while he rehearsed to be in a touring Broadway musical. “What show?” he asked. So I told him about Noah and Billy Elliot. Then he surprised me by saying that he knows all about the sacrifices a mother makes when her child is in a Broadway show because his mom did exactly what I was doing. His sister was the original Annie on Broadway.
At this point I knew exactly who his sister was. I only knew of ONE Broadway child performer by name before I was tossed into the Billy Elliot world. And it was his sister! Honest to God. She was the girl I wanted to be when I was 11. I knew every song from Annie and couldn’t wait to go see it. It was the first Broadway touring musical I ever saw in Boston and I remember it like it was yesterday. But, by the time I saw the show, Mike’s sister wasn’t in the role anymore and I actually recall being disappointed I didn’t get to see her. I thought back to his last name on the yoga schedule. I didn’t make the connection initially and why would I?
Things happen as they should. People are in our life for a purpose, or at least this is what I believe. So certainly there’s a reason I gravitated to his classes and a reason he resonates with me. I mean, really, out of all the yoga studios and teachers in New York City (and trust me there are THOUSANDS), Billy’s mom gravitates to Annie’s brother? In the divine order of life, we were supposed to connect. This is the way things happen for me. Time after time.
I just sort of nodded as he talked about his sister. I decided not to say anything back. We said goodbye and off he skated. I walked slowly back to my apartment with a smile on my face.
Flash forward to last Thursday night. My last class at the studio with Mike. Besides our one conversation, we had not spoken another word, not even at the class I attended a couple of days after that elevator ride.
He played Goodbye Yellow Brick Road loudly. So loudly it would have been annoying if he wasn’t my yoga crush. After class, I just had to say goodbye and thank him for the great classes and inspiration (I didn’t mention the ass cracks although they also kept me coming back.) I asked him if he knew that Elton John wrote the music for Billy Elliot. He had no idea. He also didn’t know I was leaving in a few days for the Midwest. He didn’t even usually play songs with lyrics. But there was a reason he played this song on this day. We were meant to meet. This much I know.
He gave me a big hug. Goodbye Annie. Goodbye yellow brick road.
EPILOGUE: ONE MORE PIECE OF THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
So I guess the universe had a couple more signs in store for me along the yellow brick road.
Tony Awards Day, Sunday June 10: This was our last full day in New York and along with errands, laundry and packing up, we decided we would try our luck and enter the lottery to buy tickets for “The Book of Mormon.” Just to set the scene — Times Square was filled with theater-goers. I mean, it was TONY SUNDAY! But since this was our ‘hood, we didn’t have to go very far to get to the theater at 12 pm. What we saw were piles of people, camped out on lawn chairs. Oh boy, odds didn’t look good for “The Book of Mormon” lottery.
I should back up here for a moment for those who have no clue what a ticket lottery is (something I just learned about upon landing in Times Square). Basically, anyone can arrive at participating theaters two hours before show time and enter a lottery to buy up to two tickets for $25 each.
After sizing up the crowd outside “The Book of Mormon,” Noah and I decided we’d try our luck elsewhere. Neither of us had seen “Wicked.” So, we walked around the corner, didn’t see any lawn chairs parked outside and tossed our names into the hat. By 1 pm, when they draw the winner’s names, the crowd had grown exponentially. Odds didn’t look good but I had a feeling we had won the second Noah threw his name in.
I was right. Noah won! We got front row seats for $50. I hadn’t given a thought to what the show was about and the connection to the yellow brick road. In fact, only a sliver of the yellow brick road even appeared in this musical, and that wasn’t until the very end. When did it appear? Right before the two witches sang “For Good,” a song I had never heard before. It was about how people come into your life for a reason whether you understand the reason or not. And, these people generally guide you in changing for the good. Crazy huh?
So, the musical was amazing and immediately afterwards we went to Ellen’s Stardust Diner for dinner. For those unfamiliar with Ellen’s, it’s a diner with a singing wait staff, most of whom are waiting out their big Broadway break. Our waitress, Maria, asked us where we were from and that, of course, started the conversation about why we were in New York. Once she found out Noah was rehearsing to be Billy, she said she wanted him to meet someone. Who? A former touring Annie! No kidding! Ten minutes later, another waitress announced that there was a performer in the house who is about to star in a Broadway tour. Next thing you know, Kristine Bogan, aka Annie, is at our table introducing Noah and the whole place is clapping for him.
Now, I still don’t quite understand all the Billy/Annie connections. But I don’t think it matters. It was a magical day and I know something happened “For Good.”
Goodbye New York. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.