The women hang in Shavasana, shrouded in poppy-colored yoga hammocks and suspended above the gleam of the studio's wooden floor. A stranger wandering in might think he had happened upon a room of human/butterfly hybrids in advanced stage of chrysalis, but this is Tuesday night aerial yoga at The Center and Brie is trying her best to breathe, release, renew, rejuvenate, relax here inside her nylon pod.
To say he took it hard would be an understatement. It was a scene of grotesquery not to be forgotten, complete with nasal mucous cascading down to his shirt as he blubbered, and a phone call to his mother—live, on camera, we're talking Facetime—during which the mother demanded to speak to Brie, who was forced to exit the clearing to avoid such theater, where she bumped into the jungle lovers, who had heard the cries of the almost-fiancé and, mistaking them for signs of injury or illness, came to see if they could help. The woman patted the pained one's back as her still-shirtless companion stared at Brie in confusion, and Brie wasn't sure if she should thank him, ask him for his number, or leap from the nearest cliff.
Gretchen emerges from her hammock first, making eye contact with Brie and bending her wrist to pantomime her desire for a drink. Out comes Peyton next, who taps Bernadette on the feet to wake her. Bern always falls asleep in corpse pose; she's permanently relaxed. Brie pulls her knees to her chest to enclose herself completely inside the pod, her world a brief oasis of orange until Gretchen says, "Come on, Buddha," and tilts Brie's pod so the slick of her Lululemons sends her sliding to the floor. It's not that she doesn't want to tell them. It's just exhausting, all the questions that will come. Her mom will shit a hyena.
"Did he do it?" asks the girl who teaches the Pound class coming up next. It doesn't help that Brie knows everybody here. She's the Senior Anti-Aging Ambassador at The Center, where women rush in droves at first sign of decreased skin elasticity, lip fullness, eyelash thickness, muscle tone, metabolism, belly flatness, youthful glow, and general confidence in their outward appearance. Botox®, Juvederm®, SmartLipo®, Latisse®, non-surgical nose jobs. Lasers, acids, chemical peels, global thermonuclear war on cellulite. This is Star Wars for women, and it is serious fucking business.
"No," Brie says, not ready to give up the goose. "Not yet."
Kale and ginger Mezcal tonics, shiso miso sashimi burritos, and the regular round-robin of Gretchen bitching about her husband and kids, Peyton painting lurid pictures of her afternoon liaisons with her espresso machine repairman, and Bernadette talking in a 100% genuine way about how much she loves her job at the non-profit, her husband, and her three kids—Jax, Jules, and Jessie. They're completely adorable. So annoying.
"I haven't lived," Brie says, no longer able to contain herself. "I thought I was ready. There we were, the stage was set, but it occurred to me that I've spent all this time—a decade, more probably—focused on trying to get there instead of relishing the freedom. It's insane the automatic piloting that goes on inside our bodies in our thirties. It's like," she widens her eyes, extends her arms like a zombie, "husband, babies, husband, babies..."
Gretchen succeeds in a brow furrow. "What the hell are you talking about?"
Brie ties her long ginger hair into a bun. "I'm talking about my failure to carpe diem before I get married. I've wasted so much time trying to act like the girl they want to marry instead of doing what they're doing, which is fucking who they want to, how they want to, and not feeling bad about it. Seriously, we struggle through our twenties to find ourselves, to take possession of our being, only to turn around and give it away to the first guy with a good job and a ring box."
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Brie Baggio thinks she's ready... for marriage, kids, the whole shebang. She's pushing forty, and even though she's the Senior Anti-Aging Ambassador at Los Angeles's hottest med spa, Botox can't paralyze that nagging feeling that it's now or never...