“Rela and Listen to the Muse”

Vacation reality rarely embodies its anticipated serenity, and so recently I took a daily stretch class at a Costa Rican resort. This was to find my inner calm amongst a sea of warring sororal opinions and husbandly lacks of concern masquerading as nonchalance.

Our lovely instructor had a habit of not pronouncing the final syllable or letter of her words but possessed a melodic voice and delightfully Spanish-accented English.

“Rela and listen to the musi. Enjo the beeeautiful beards ceercling jus for you in the blu, blue sk. Breethe in and ou, in and ou. Feel yoursel relaing and listeni to the mus, as the waves pull your brethe in and ou and the beerds sin you their song.”

Peter, my wonderful husband, who frequently takes yoga classes, runs in marathons, and does daily flexibility stretches, decides to accompany me on my forty-five-minute journey to sanity. Couple therapy at its finest.

Class takes place on Pilates mats over an acoustic tile floor, in an open-air pavilion by the main pool. Surrounded by a gasp-inducing view of the Pacific Ocean, framed by luscious palms and fragrant flowers whose scent wafts across us with each inhalation, we are working out in paradise.

We do some light standing stretches to warm us up for the anticipated sweat-inducing work out to come. Soon it becomes glaringly obvious that the serious work out has dissolved into yoga meets Pilates meets phone sex. Thai style. A mood enhancing episode of relaxation as opposed to an aerobically-intense, pound-reducing, endorphin-releasing gym class. But that’s ok.

Again, our Instructor implores us to “Rela and listen to the muse. Enjo the beeautiful beards ceercling jus for you in the blu, blu sk. Breethe in and ou, in and ou. Feel yoursel relaing and listeni to the musi.”

My heartbeat slows, and my mind clears as we stretch, and the teacher’s melodious voice entreats us to breathe, enjoy the scenery and find our inner Nirvana. I notice my husband is not quite in-step with the class. As if listening to an internal soundtrack of heavy metal music, Peter is warming up with roundhouse kicks and nasty little jabs, that would scare Krav Magna practitioners.

To each their own, right?

Class continues, and I disconnect from my stress and descend into pure muscle-stretching exhilaration. I swear “the beerds are now ceercling,” just for me and I contemplate acquiring Costa Rican citizenship.

We match our breath to the instructor’s and assume Warrior pose, delicately balancing in a lunge while our upper bodies twist sideways with hands in prayer. Inexplicably, Peter is doing burpees at a rapid pace. Complete with quarterback-style exhalations of “hut” and “oof.”

I choose to ignore this.

Transitioning down to our mats to engage in quad and hamstring stretches, we are all appropriately mellow, and the instructor’s hypnotizing instruction becomes like a gentle wind caressing our nerves and easing our stress.

Except for Peter. He is moved to grab his iPhone and check his messages, replying to what must be non-essential communiqués with snorting, muttering, and furious typing. By now he’s getting some insulted looks from people besides me, including the teacher and various class participants. Unfortunately, his fluency in appropriate behavior being near non-existent, Peter doesn’t let that distract him.

Listening to my inner goddess voice, I allow this outrage to wash over me and languidly glide into Pigeon Pose.

We move to our backs and extend our legs out fully, our fingers and toes grasping for invisible handles to stretch us so thoroughly that we become taller, our saggy skin re-elasticizes, and we resemble a taut twenty-year-old at rest. (Oh, come on, doesn’t everyone use that visualization?) Inexplicably visions of Alicia Vikander in the new Lara Croft movie flash before me and I swear my rejuvenation is complete and soon I will be able to launch myself gracefully from a rotting plane’s skeleton, flying through the air to land agilely on the far side of a raging river. Because that will come in really handy.

Now, Peter feels the need to do fifty-five, fast-paced pushups, which is seriously impeding my ability to “rela and listen to the musi.” His guttural exhalations upon each rise threaten to destroy any modicum of inner peace I had and are really embarrassing me as classmates resentfully scamper as far away from him as they can without falling in the ocean. Being immune to such social cues, Peter continues his Ironman routine.

I am forced to wave at him. Which he pretends he doesn’t see. I embrace my inner serpent and loudly hiss, which causes him to bellow, “What? I can’t hear you over the music!” I engage in frantic head motions and eye signals to indicate that he is engendering disapproval and should listen to the instructor.

Like a stubborn deaf person, he retaliates by shouting “I am trying to work out here if you don’t mind!”

I return to a pretense of serenity and calculate how to harmoniously move my mat as far away from him as possible. Perhaps near that eighty-year-old grandma in the thong.

“As you breeth, liste to your bod and try to reach your toes, deepe and deepe, so your tummy lay on your leges, and you feel dat muscle lettin go. Now the beards are sinin jus for you as they fly highe and highe in the blu, blu sk.”

I really like this teacher.

Impressed by my middle-aged flexibility, our instructor compliments me out loud; “You so stretchy, like bubb gum!”

I think I’m having a girl crush.

 Now, Peter sings loudly to his Spotify playlist, “Psycho Killer, Qu’est-ce que c’est? Fa, fa, fa, fa, fa, fa, fa, fa, far better. Run, run, run, run, run, run away—”, immediately followed by “Brandy, you’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be, but my life, my lover, my lady is the sea, do do do do—.”

I take this as a personal rebuke because Brandy probably doesn’t hiss.

Once more the instructor implores us to “Rela and listen to the musi. Enjo the beeutiful beards ceercling jus for you in the blu, blu sk. Breethe in and ou, in and ou. Feel yoursel relaing and listeni to the muse.”

Drawn no doubt by Peter’s aggressive singing, a gigantic iguana decides to join me on my mat, causing me to scream and further disrupt the class until the gargantuan alligator-size reptile decides to move along to greener pastures. Probably with Brandy.

“Kee relaing and listen to the mus as you remem the beeutifu lan of Costa Rica and the natura inhabitans who came firs.”

This is a rebuke by the formerly kind, nightingale-voiced instructor to lizard-hating me. Fuck her.

Time for stride jumps! Not for the class of course, but for Peter who not only marches to the tune of a different drum but does his best Phil Collins impression of “Su, su, sussudio” as he continues to unwind.

The rest of us move into our final Savasana, one hand to heart and one on our stomachs, breathing deeply and slowing our respiration. I’m reaching for that congratulatory tranquility that accompanies the end of a workout, so am completely unprepared for Peter’s sudden need to begin jogging in place. Knees high as the rubber-slapping sound of his foot-steps thud upward in a symphony of distraction, he ramps it up to light speed, flinging beadlets of sweat over the rest of us in a disgusting shower.

As I consider divorce, the remaining students flee in every direction, and I aspire to join them, but Peter, feeling quite invigorated, grabs me in a possessive hug and says “Awesome class, honey. We should do this one every day.”