I wonder when I’ll see her next?
This was first answered in 2009. It had been a year since we taught together in Hong Kong. It started with a long hug after an expensive cab ride in Central Manhattan and later that evening, a New Year’s Eve party in Brooklyn. We shivered in sequins outside of a transvestite club that we happened upon with good humour after being denied by a dozen bars and nightclubs. We began the unplanned evening with low expectations and a generous threshold for uncertainty, dance partners and cold line-ups. So we danced. We danced with every Cher, Shakira and she-male of Brooklyn and laughed until it was impossible to laugh anymore with full knowledge our asses would never get grabbed. It was a perfect girls night out. We burned 2009 wishes scribbled onto napkins before midnight and watched them turn into ash, floating left to right, right to left like delicate grey angel wings landing in a gutter below our high heels. We hooked elbows, teeth chattering until young boys broke our huddle and asked us if we had any blow to sell. I think Kay Kay elbowed them back and returned to our silent prayers as though nothing happened.
We met again in 2012 outside of a Yaletown Vancouver art space. Late and fleeting. We stood chatting between the bumpers of Mini Coopers, lap dogs (mini steps) and a friends art opening. Like ships in the night we briefly scraped bows, exchanged stories and waved good-bye.
And again shivering… February 2013, in the streets of Manhattan. Kay Kay generously offered me her 200 square foot apartment as a place to sleep during a ten-day training with the almighty Ana Forrest. In between the beat of Ana’s drum and her five-hour braid-whipping asana, I collapsed on Kay Kay’s pull-out couch with her, of course…because it was a 200 square foot apartment. I’d wake up most evenings around 3 a.m to her hand in my face, log-rolling me off the bed. I laughed not waking her. She’d wake up at 5.am and teach til the sun set, a steady sherpa spreading good news. This, I’m quite certain, officiated our sister-dom and my understanding of how generous she was.
Getting star-fished by a friend is a whole new level of love.
And again, here in Whistler on April 30, 2014. We shivered (yes, lots of shivering moments) under the night sky and watched the new moon stars tremble back at us. We made wishes and watched lights flicker on Blackcomb Mountain. It was another quick and fleeting trip for the Lululemon Ambassador Summit. In between hand standing and Luon promises we managed to sneak off, drink wine and have long walks on Whistler docks.
I found the below piece I wrote for Kay Kay a few years ago. I’m fresh from my time with her so I thought I’d post it again on this new and shiny blog.
Like friends do during the in-betweens of life: of hotel lobbies, goodbyes and stages of adulthood – gratitude is an everlasting glue. We all need friends like Kay Kay that make us sparkle. Like pretty little stars. There may be nights where we float alone, lost in orbit. That’s usually when they arrive – unexpected and timely, engulfing you with a solar flare of a hug. All it takes is a brush of their fiery shoulder, albeit brief, reminding you of what you thought was once lost…
Love ya K2. xo j
It was my second day in September of 2005 and I arrived to begin my teaching contract in Hong Kong. I was sitting in a restaurant in Soho with my compadres Patrick Creelman and Stephen Thomas. We were in the thick of mid afternoon humidity and white inner city sun – the kind that spills through the edges of sunglasses and makes your eyes sting. The putrid grime of Soho Hong Kong air muted the three of us, we sat slumped over and slurping warm Coke because it was the only drink they offered and watched the world spin: delivery trucks, men yelling over diesel engines, slaughtered ducks swinging to and fro in the arm of a passing meat market vendor, the smell of rotten banana peels, incense, kicked over garbage cans and warm cases of beer being stacked against a stoop. We were at a little hole in the wall restaurant called The Cornershop. It was literally a corner and a shop with an open-air service counter, deep fryer and enough room for ten people to sit elbow to elbow. You could kick your leg out and hit the door of a passing cab.
I first met Kay Kay here. I was sitting cross-legged (the top leg slipping off with sweat) watching them eat a deep-fried something, feeling itchy and nauseated by it all. Kay Kay walked by us and Patrick called out to her. She walked slowly toward us with what I later grew to know as the Kay Kay swagger, a walk that takes it time and owns every step. Her calm walk made me feel better about my decision to move to Hong Kong and her smile grew bigger as she got closer to us. It brings the edges of her lips to her ears and her massive green eyes illuminate. I would tease her that she’s part yogamafia/ Boston/BorderlineBeyonce with sweet apple cheeks and brown curly hair that whirls skyward especially on muggy days.
She was apartment shopping and contemplating a unit above us. I looked up. The building streaked of yellow water, rust and had an aura of cat pee.
I remember thinking, “How awful for her.”
Three weeks I moved into my flat and looked up to my 21st floor window and thought, “I live in a building that is streaked of yellow water, rust and has an aura of cat pee.” We all did. It’s Hong Kong.
After being introduced, Kay Kay and I continued our conversation walking towards Sheung Wan and shared a cab. We sped past an old prison-house that was supposedly haunted, she pointed to shards of glass that lined its high cement walls, all I could see was the blur of high speed bricks. The driver jarred us to a halt at the bottom of the hill. One of my bags wedged itself between the driver and passenger seats. Kay Kay looked nauseous. “Jesus!” We would later refer to most cab ride experiences as the pukey brakes.
I did a double take at her profile. She felt so familiar to me. In fact, a lot of the teachers I had been meeting all week seemed familiar.
“You know Kay Kay, I feel like I’ve met you before?” The driver hit the brakes again.
She frowned at him and then smiled back at me and responded with her rich drawl of Americano, “I know Julia. I feel the same.”
Kay Kay has a way with people. She addresses you by your first name in conversation and makes you feel important and heard. Her voice has a twang of Boston, New York and Hawaii all rolled up into one as she’s made a home in all three places in different phases of her life. It is a voice I grew to love like a sister, always affirming and comforting in our days of shared discomfort, joy and challenge.
She lifted a to-go mug towards her lips, her pinky finger stuck up in the air while she drank her tea in between sentences. The cabby braked again and tea spilled down her chin onto her lap.
She inhaled for twenty counts and then said one of my favourite Kay Kay’isms:
“I’m all set with this cab driver.”
I had never heard the expression before but I knew it wasn’t a good thing for Kay Kay Clivio to be all set with you.
On March 1st 2007 Kay Kay Clivio moved back to New York City. We celebrated and didn’t get home until 5 a.m. Al, a manager of a restaurant we’d frequent, made a farewell cake for her and a large crowd spilled out onto Wyndham Street from the restaurant. Our group of teachers stood mingling on the street and Kay Kay decided to give an impromptu speech from the stoop of the restaurant. It was a beyond-perfect moment in time, I wish I had recorded it. One hand swayed with champagne, her finger nails painted dark. The other held an ironic yoga clove that would happen on special occasions particularly in the event of too much champagne and goodbyes. She looked towards our group of teary-eyed yogis mixed with the usual patrons of the bar who didn’t know who she was but wanted to. It amazed me she quieted an entire crowd of over a hundred people. Her big eyes barely blinked and I held my breath the whole time.
“THIS!…..” she scanned the crowd pausing (because us yoga teachers love a good pause) her eyes welling up and one free pinky finger holding her drink like a tea cup, “is fuckin’ yoga! Just look around you – everyone!”
The crowd looked at one another, some men in sweaty, undone business suits shrugged over their shoulders, most of our group hugged.
“Right here and now is yoga! All of you in this time and place within this community….THIS!…” she paused again, the profundity was hyphenated by a tidal wave of cocktail splashing over her shoulder and onto the pavement, “THIS right now is yoga and everything else is secondary. What we do in class and on the mat, it’s all just shapes. At the end of the day, what all of you are doing right now – this is love.”
Her voice got softer, “THIS is yoga.”
We all cheered. We all cheered. Everybody cheered!
Leave it to Clivio to get gospel prolific on her last evening. It was the best going away speech…thank god I wrote it down.
We later said good bye while I picked at fake shrubbery outside of another restaurant entranceway, trying not to cry while she had me locked in her armpit.
She whispered to me that she was going to pray for me because it was her new thing.
Then she held me back for a moment of repose, like a mamma and her girl going away to college. We were interrupted by an emaciated Brit pop dude in a red leather jacket who held out his hand to high five her and Jenna and Claudia who stumbled out holding hands and urging her along.
She shooed them away, “I’m saying some words to my girl!”
She said something about it being the Year of the Pig which meant that the year ahead would be a gift for all of us. I nodded because us girls are predisposed to loving astrology, it helps us feel better about break ups, moves and new jobs. (And then something else about wishing good things, boons, gifts, babies, marriage and abundance.. all of it was in there!) It was a hilarious, sincere and a complete package of Kay Kay circa 2007.
I gave her a big hug and said, “See you soon” and cried my little eyes out on my cab ride home. I leaned my forehead into the window and head butted the front seat as he braked hard. I laughed.
I was all set.
Then I wondered, “When will I see her next?”