From time to time over the past couple of years, I have written about the remarkable group of women with whom I spend nearly every Monday morning. We start with yoga—either a class with Behnje Masson, who drives up from Grand Rapids every other week—or a group practice session. Then it's on to breakfast at Hit the Road Joe Coffee Café, where we appropriate the biggest table (and pull up extra chairs and tables when our group is at full capacity).
I've mentioned how our breakfast conversations ramble, touching on books, movies, politics and passions. But have I mentioned that these stalwart women can also get mighty silly when the mood strikes?
As it did on the morning of the corset. Kathy had discovered the article of clothing—a stretchy, satiny creation from an era when women wore "foundation garments"—among the belongings of her mother-in-law, who had recently passed away at the age of 98. She brought it to breakfast for show-and-tell, but this group couldn't be content to just pass the thing around.
After waiting until the table of men from the nearby church camp had left the premises, Valerie hopped up, undid the corset's side zipper, and began tugging it up over her yoga clothes. The more she wriggled, the more we giggled.
Camera phones came out. Then, like Cinderella's stepsisters, we all wanted to try squeezing ourselves into the magical undergarment.
I don't know about the other yoginis, but I fully expected that slipping it on, I'd be transformed into a svelte, glamorous, Hollywood-worthy creature. Seeing the cellphone picture Sue took of me quickly shattered that illusion.
No matter. The real transformation was that moment of lightness, of letting go of whatever concerns were constricting me and sharing a laugh with friends I've grown to love in the five years since we moved to this community.
Another opportunity to let loose together came up a few weeks ago at Camp Newaygo's annual Christmas & Cocktails event. For the past several years, our group has reserved a couple of tables at this annual women-only shindig. If C&C sounds like a wild and boozy girls' night out, it really isn't—not for the yoginis, at least. We might sip a cocktail or a glass of wine, but it's dancing, not drinking, that's the draw.
In past years, we've rocked out to the tunes of piano woman Alesha Nicole. This year, Camp Newaygo changed up the entertainment with BellyDance Grand Rapids. No corsets here! In fact, in reading up on belly dancing, I learned that when this style of expressive dance first became popular in the U.S., in the 1890s, Victorian sensibilities were affronted by the dancers' uncorseted gyrations. Imagine!
We, however, delighted in the dance performance, especially the part where the male waiters—who had served us so capably and even recited poems composed specifically for each table--took to the floor to swivel and sway with the belly dancers. A few brave women from our group gave it a shot, too!
The rest of us held back until the rock 'n' roll came on. Then we were on our feet for the rest of the night, bopping and twirling against a backdrop of glittery lights.
When the music ended, and we headed out into the cold night, we all glowed a little brighter.
What's the most fun you've had with friends lately?
1/3/2018 06:20:18 am
Lovely story to start the new year, Nancy! One of the things I admire most about you is your ability to nurture old friendships and make new friends wherever you go. It's a gift more people should have, including me.
1/3/2018 08:54:50 am
Thank you, Sally. I feel fortunate to have made so many friends in so many places.
1/3/2018 10:46:35 am
Wish you could've been there!
1/3/2018 11:17:51 am
I love laughing, thanks for the first hearty one of the New year.
1/3/2018 12:09:44 pm
My pleasure! Looking forward to many more.
1/3/2018 03:48:41 pm
New Year's Day get together with the Commerce Five crew (friends of my husband who have become family in the 48 years we've been married). I invited them to help clean out holiday leftovers from my refrigerator and freezer and invited them to bring whatever they wanted to get rid of!! We don't eat nearly as much, but we have just as much fun laughing, telling stories, sometimes even getting around to playing cards. We always have fun together!!
1/6/2018 06:31:25 am
Great idea for a no-stress get-together. I'll remember that next holiday season.
1/3/2018 04:02:14 pm
Both events were so much fun. Nan, you’ve described them very well. Laughing with these lovely ladies is always a memorable experience!
1/6/2018 06:31:51 am
1/4/2018 06:41:59 am
What a shocking image to begin your post. Oh, my! A lady's corset. What is this world coming to??? Oh wait, it's the 21st century. But what a great juxtaposition of the old corset and the modern women of today with no foundation garments, well, maybe Spanx...Laughed with you through your adventures of trying on the corset--who said you weren't glamorous?--and belly dancing. Fun times to be cherished for sure. We have a great group on Thursday evenings who gather to play Pegs and Jokers, but the players certainly aren't too serious about the game. Really enjoy the camaraderie around the table. Of course, the mission is for the women to beat the guys, but that doesn't always happen. Nobody cares. LOL. I'll think of you all on Monday mornings. Enjoy!
1/6/2018 06:35:44 am
Yes, there was some discussion of Spanx as we played with the corset. Fortunately, there's no need for such undergarments with jeans and turtlenecks -- my usual ensemble.
1/4/2018 08:44:17 am
the traveling corset. i have it and it really does not look too bad maybe i will bring it to htrj again as some did not have the chance to fill it up, or fill out of it! I sure do enjoy your blogs, Nan. the way you keep it up every week is inspiring.
1/6/2018 06:19:29 am
Good idea, Valerie! And thank you so much for the encouragement. I needed it this week.
1/8/2018 08:38:30 am
This is such a fun post! A corset never had it so lucky. This is a good reminder for the new year to prioritize appropriately, and put friends and family first.
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Written from the heart,
from the heart of the woods
Read the introduction to HeartWood here.
Nan Sanders Pokerwinski, a former journalist, writes memoir and personal essays, makes collages and likes to play outside. She lives in West Michigan with her husband, Ray.