Book Description: Alex thought she had married the man of her dreams: successful, gorgeous, and delighted by her small-town charm. When he walks out six months later, proclaiming to have ‘found himself’ (with the help of a stunning yoga teacher), she ‘finds herself’ alone in an unfamiliar city, vengefully drinking through his prized wine collection, living on takeout, and refusing to answer the door. When this fails to cure her broken heart and bruised ego, she reluctantly allows her new friends to intervene. Slowly, Alex learns to define success on her own terms; she discovers the secret to love in all its forms, and the perfect flying crow pose, one breath at a time.
Excerpt of “Breathe” by Kate Bishop
Candles . . . Check.
Music . . . Check.
Corset, thigh-highs, whip, hat, and cowgirl boots . . .
Had it already come to this?
Apparently so. Embarrassing as it was, I felt desperate to get Tripp’s attention. To feel close to him. To recreate the electricity and attraction that had made us sprint to the altar in the first place. It wasn’t long ago that he would dash home from the office for a quick “lunch” with me. Surprise weekend getaways were standard then, always at some pet-friendly hotel overlooking the Pacific.
Tripp never forgot to include my dog, Billy, in the beginning. And the horses-he loved to watch me ride. Some nights, we’d sneak into his family’s stables where their racehorses were groomed for glory.
He didn’t even care if his mother got wind of it.
But lately things had started to change. One evening, I’d slipped my arms around him and whispered, “Let’s go for a ride in the moonlight tonight.” He was standing with his back to me, staring out the French doors into darkness.
“Sorry, what?” He stepped away from me, pulling the curtains closed.
“A ride,” I said. “You and me.”
He turned and walked past me, one half of his button-down un-tucked, his tie hanging loose and off-center.
“Tripp, honey? Hello?” He was back to staring out the window, this time over the kitchen sink. “Where are you right now? Come on, ride with me. I’ll let you be the cowboy,” I teased. But he didn’t laugh. He didn’t even smile.
“Babe, it’s like we’re on different planets, and I’m two feet away from you.” I walked over and peered with him into the night. “Someone getting naked out there?”
“I can’t explain it, Alex. I feel like there’s more than this.” He turned and gestured vaguely to the room.
I looked around. We were standing in the kitchen of our Craftsman “cottage” which, by any standards outside Marin County, California, would be considered a palatial shrine to Frank Lloyd Wright.
“More than . . . our house?” He couldn’t be having an existential crisis, could he?
We were newlyweds.
“No, I mean all this.” He waved his arm in a bigger arc.
“Oh. Well, yeah. Of course,” I said and hopped up on the counter, hoping to distract him. “The world is a mysterious place. And I am game for exploring all of it with you.” I smiled and reached for him with my feet, trying to pull him toward me.
He took a step back and shook his head again.
“I’m going through something, Al. I need space.”
“Maybe it’s all that yoga you’ve been doing. Too much standing on your head.
Let’s take a vacation. A real vacation. No conference calls, no early classes at the Club. Let me take care of you. Maybe Jamaica? We’ll ride horses through the surf . . . ”
“Okay,” I said with a shrug, attempting to look unfazed. “Just trying to help.”
Resting my heels on the drawer pulls, I leaned forward onto my elbows as if sitting on a fence. “So,” I said casually.
“So,” Tripp replied, glazing over.
My stomach tightened. What was going on here? Tripp was usually so direct and engaging.
“Is there anything I can-” I started.
“No, Alex. I just wanted you to know that I’m operating from a deeper place now.” He nodded solemnly. I looked at him, my gorgeous, take-charge, marry-me, won’t-take-no-for-an-answer husband.
“So is Deepak Chopra a new client or something?” I tried one last time for a laugh, a kiss, a tousle, anything, but he just looked at me blankly. “Babe?”
“Okay.” He clasped his hands together. “I’ve got to go pack.”
He left the next morning for what I thought was a business trip in Atlanta.
Initially, Tripp didn’t correct me, but eventually he confessed that it was, in fact, a retreat. A spiritual retreat: yoga, meditation, healing . . . And as unenlightened as it sounded, I felt like he was cheating on me. With himself.
“I want to be with you. Could I come?” I said from our massive bed as I watched him get dressed. Tripp’s interest in yoga had been a shock to me, despite the fact that it had long since become the world’s trendiest fitness obsession, one I myself had resisted. Regardless of the latest celebrity testimonial, to me, yoga would always be my mother’s thing, New Age-y and fringe-y. But in those moments before he left, it was beginning to feel like a deal breaker. “Really.” I’d almost convinced myself. “I want to come.”
Tripp remained focused on his packing.
“Honestly, I’m not sure you’re ready for this kind of work, Alex. Just enjoy the solitude. I think you could benefit from some time alone with your thoughts.” He came over to kiss me goodbye, and I sat up, letting the zillion-thread count sheet fall away from me. But he was gone too quick to notice.
Billy and I met Tripp at Mount Bachelor, Central Oregon’s favorite ski destination, where I was working a weekend shift as the on-mountain concierge.
Mostly, I directed harried parents to the nearest restroom. It was something of a rebound job, having recently returned from what I assumed was a stereotypical attempt at living in New York. My morale was fragile at best and my bank account was drained. That afternoon, Billy was curled at my feet as Tripp approached the desk with his client.
He rested his elbow casually on the mahogany counter between us. His eyes sparkled. And when he smiled, I melted. I honestly did.
“Hi.” I smiled back, feeling like I had gained a thousand feet of altitude.
“Can you recommend a restaurant for us this evening?” He kept his eyes on mine.
“And by us, you mean?” I nodded toward a man I assumed was his friend, who was leafing through a ‘High Desert Museum’ pamphlet, decked head to toe in fresh from-the-box Patagonia. The mountain’s ragtag ski lodge crew always mocked out-of-town weekend warriors, but I found them fascinating. They reminded me that the world was a big place and gave me hope that, although New York had not worked out, I too, might someday, somehow, avoid a lifetime of county fairs in good ol’ Sisters, Oregon.
“Yep, that would be my date,” he replied, his blinding smile drawing me in.
I tore my eyes away to look over at his friend.
“Well, he sure looks ready for some action out there,” I said in a low voice.
Tripp twisted around to look at him over his shoulder.
“She likes your goggles, man.” He turned back to me. “So. Dinner,” he said
with a little smile. His eyes were as blue as the sky behind him.
Go for it, Alex. Just do it.
I leaned forward.
“Yes?” he asked.
“It’s about your date. My guess is that two hours in this powder, and he’ll be glued to the wet bar in his room tonight. Are you sure you don’t want to reconsider?
Mount Bachelor’s got some pretty cute lifties, and I think Skye’s on this afternoon.” I pretended to scan a list of lift operators on duty.
Tripp leaned toward me, his eyes glittering with amusement. “That ‘date’ is worth over half a billion dollars. Makes the glare of his one-piece ski suit a little more endearing.” We considered the spectacle for a moment. The Ski Magazine cover boy looked up from his map of downtown Bend.
“Okay, okay. I can hear you over there. Could you hurry it up, Edwards? I’m suffocating in this damn suit. Tell you what, man, next time I pick the meeting place.
Cabo.” He ripped off his goggles and looked at them, then held them up for me to see.
“These are pretty awesome though, right?” They both laughed. I liked these guys.
Unlike most of the resort’s seasonal millionaires, they seemed to have a sense of humor about themselves.
“Alright,” I said, looking back at Tripp. “Let’s find you boys a restaurant before your friend passes out.” I considered my choice of words. These ‘boys’ had at least ten years on me. I looked down at my list of endorsed restaurants and then set it aside.
“My favorite place in town is Sushi Max, but if you don’t like sushi-”
Tripp interrupted me. “Sushi’s perfect.”
I waited for him to check with his friend. He didn’t. Instead he continued to stare at me, making my heart race. I began to move things around on the desk. What was going on? Guys didn’t intimidate me. Jeff Otto, Garth Merck, Chris Cotton-my big brother Jackson’s high school posse-all my life they were relentless, but not once was I ever thrown by their teasing, harassing, or flirting. And those guys were rodeo stars. If they didn’t knock me off center, no one could. Right? I looked up again at Tripp’s blue eyes and shock of blond hair, and felt weak. I cleared my throat.
“Okay, here’s a map.” All business, I circled the restaurant and pointed out the route. My hand grazed his, and it felt like a current was coursing between us. I’d never experienced anything like it.
“You like sushi, Alex?” Tripp asked, glancing down at my nametag.
I looked down to catch my breath, then recapped my highlighter pen and looked into his eyes. “Of course. I’m from the High Desert. Don’t you know we’re renowned for our land fish?” Bad joke.
His friend called over again. “Tripp. Seriously. I am dying over here.” He now had plopped, spread-legged, onto one of the leather armchairs. Tripp appeared not to hear him, and kept his eyes on mine. He put his hand over the map.
“Why don’t you join me, then.” It wasn’t a question.
Standing there, his body so close to mine, I felt like I might just fall into a heap on the floor. Everything about him was irresistible: the light in his eyes, the sound of his voice, the way he smelled. It was like the first time I saw a pack of wild mustangs.
The world felt infinite.
“What about your friend?” I asked, ignoring the pulse in my ears.
“He’s got plans. Right, Jim?”
Jim gave him a half-wave. “I don’t care what you do, Edwards. Just get me to The Lodge for some Scotch and a soak.”
Tripp turned to me. “Yeah, he’s got plans.”
I looked at him: tall, powerful, perfectly groomed, but still slightly rugged. A thoroughbred. He carried himself like he owned the place, but it didn’t seem like arrogance, just conviction. And I loved him for it right away.
“So we’re clear,” I said. “I’m not responsible for your sugar daddy over there pulling the plug on his account with you.”
“Ah, Jim’s been a client forever. He’s not going anywhere. I’m a pretty likable guy.” That smile again. I couldn’t breathe.
“Well,” I said, feigning reluctance and bending down to pet Billy, who grounded me in any situation. “I guess I could join you then.”
“Is that your dog?” he asked.
“Sure is.” I stroked Billy’s head, and he leaned against my knee.
“What happened to him?”
For a second, I didn’t know what he was talking about. I was so accustomed to Billy’s one ear. “Oh. His ear? I think it was a gang initiation. Isn’t that awful? I found him at a shelter in New York.”
“Does he have Pitt Bull in him?” Tripp took a step back.
I burst out laughing. “No, he’s a Jack Russell-Beagle mix. Does he look especially ferocious? I hope you’re not afraid of dogs,” I teased, “because Billy and I are a package deal.”
Tripp bent down and cautiously pet his good ear. “Does Billy like sushi, too?”
“Yep. Loves it,” I answered. It was sweet to see this self-assured man be tentative around a creature as harmless as Billy.
“Okay, then. A table for three. I’ll book it.” He pulled out his phone. “And tell me where you live, so I can have my driver pick you up.”
“Driver? Are you serious?”
He leaned in. “It’s all show. For the clients.”
“Oh, right.” I smirked. “I can see that you don’t enjoy it at all.”
“Think you can handle a driver for one night?”
“I suppose,” I answered, flirtatiously drawing out the syllables. For a second there, I did wonder about giving a stranger my address. But who was I kidding? I was back in Central Oregon, once again desperate for some excitement. “It’s thirty-five Old Post Road in Sisters. And tell your driver that the chickens are even fiercer than Billy, so he may want to wait in the car.”
Looking down, Tripp smiled as he typed and said, “You’re a funny girl.” Then he slipped his phone back into his pocket, patted the counter twice, grinned at me one last time, and said, “See you tonight.”
I watched him walk away and felt like I was floating.
What just happened?
All afternoon, I couldn’t stop smiling, thinking about him, and replaying our conversation. As my shift was about to end, I was lost in full-blown fantasy about our imminent date when I began to consider the cold, harsh, un-sexy reality of my life: twenty-five years old and broke, living at home in a small mountain town, three hours from the nearest city, which was Portland, of all places. Self-doubt began to creep in; there was no disguising my lack of direction from Tripp, or my parents. In fact, just the night before, they were dropping hints at the dinner table.
“So Alex,” Dad had said over the fondue pot. “This could be the perfect time for you to look into vet school. Fulfill that childhood dream of yours.”
“Mm-hmm.” I’d twirled my fork and fought the urge to remind us all that I was no longer a child.
“You do have a rare gift with animals, honey,” Mom had agreed. “You could even take classes right here at COCC.” She’d looked over and smiled expectantly.
“Just something to think about.”
“Hmm,” I’d said again, glad to have a mouthful that made answering impossible. They were clearly thrilled to have me home and seemed to think I should stay in Sisters forever. But I held out hope that a fulfilling life was waiting for me somewhere else, somewhere far, far away.
An employee shuttle bus dropped me off on the main road. Walking up our long dirt driveway, I could hear Mom mending tack in the barn. Normally, I would visit the stable after a long day at work, but instead I scooped Billy up and tiptoed through the side gate, across the back deck, and in through the sliding glass door. Once in my room, I threw open the closet and proceeded to try on its entire contents at least three times. I left a note on the kitchen table, ducked out the front door, and went back down by the road to wait for Tripp’s town car. When I arrived at Sushi Max, he was standing outside. He opened the door and escorted me out of the car like I was royalty.
“What, no Billy?” he teased.
Tara Duncan, the former captain of Pioneer High’s cheering squad, was crossing the parking lot with her husband, Bruce, doggie bag in hand. They stared at the car and then at me, but I slipped behind Tripp, not wanting to make awkward conversation. This was embarrassing, actually, as I had been Pioneer’s Eco-League president, and was known for riding my bike everywhere. Also, I hadn’t really broadcast the news about my return from New York.
We were seated at a table with an orchid and one small candle. When our server placed a complimentary appetizer between us, Tripp leaned forward to examine it. I watched as he squinted, smiled, and said something funny. He was even more gorgeous than I remembered.
“So you went to Reed College. Good school. Steve Jobs and all. You said you brought your horses?” Tripp sipped his wine, something French that he’d ordered with perfect pronunciation.
“Just horse. Singular. Winger. I think that was the hardest part of being away in New York, having to leave Winger here,” I said, taking a bite of tuna roll smothered in wasabi. I blinked and couldn’t help fanning my mouth.
Tripp watched me, smiling. “Do you still have him?”
“Yep. He’s fourteen. I used to rush home from school to ride him. He was the first horse I was allowed to train on my own.” I took another bite, avoiding the wasabi this time.
“Our family owns horses as well,” Tripp said. “Racehorses.”
I looked up suddenly. Racehorses were notoriously mistreated.
“Don’t worry,” he said as if reading my thoughts. “The Edwards Family herd is cared for very well to say the least.” Tripp placed his chopsticks on the small square plate in front of him. “We’ve had horses for generations. They were my father’s passion. He used to take me out to groom the new ones.”
“Don’t you have groomers?”
He shrugged. “It was something my dad and I used to do together. My mother didn’t even know about it.” He looked out the window for a moment.
“Sometimes, we even rode together.”
“Rode your racehorses?” The idea sent actual chills up my spine.
“My dad wasn’t one to follow the rules.” He looked back at me.
I struggled to stay focused. “Where do your parents live?” I asked.
“My mother lives in Marin. My father passed away.” He took another sip of his wine.
“I’m sorry.” I put down my glass.
“It was a while ago. Summer before junior year at Andover. I never went back,” he said.
I waited for him to say something else, but he was quiet.
“Do you have any siblings?” I asked carefully.
“Two brothers and a sister. We all went to Stanford and stayed in the Bay Area. Tatum’s a doctor. The rest of us are in finance,” he recounted casually.
“But what about your mother? Did she remarry? Is she . . . okay?”
“Louise?” Tripp’s laugh surprised me. “I guess you could say that my mom is the Edwards family CEO. It keeps her very busy, which she loves. Now.” He leaned back and placed his napkin on the table. “Your turn. Tell me about New York.”
I hesitated, overwhelmed by the details of his world. A world I’d observed in New York as if through a thick pane of glass.
“Well, there’s not much to tell, really. It didn’t work out,” I finally answered before finishing the sake in my cup. Tripp refilled it.
“And why is that?” he asked, looking into my eyes for a long moment.
I considered my answer. “I guess I was just along for the ride.”
It was supposed to be an adventure. Our great escape from small town life in the Pacific Northwest. My best friend, Haley, had been planning it ever since I could remember. We’d met the day she blew into town, riding shotgun in her mother’s convertible Chrysler. At the beginning of what was supposed to be a cross-country road trip, they’d stopped at Pappy’s Pizza for lunch and directions. Trish noticed that the place was filled with handsome cowboys, found a rental on the community bulletin board, and decided they should just stay put right there in Sisters. Haley was beside herself and swore she’d make it to New York if it was the last thing she did. I was there when it all happened, eating a slice at the counter. We made eye contact but didn’t talk. Two weeks later, she recognized me on the school bus and sat next to me. I was part of her plan from that day forward. We were twelve.
In New York, it made perfect sense that Haley floated like cream to the top. She’d been preparing for years. When I did 4-H, she studied French. And while I was focused on roping and riding, she was all about fashion and film. She did try to help me, though, assigning books and articles and movies to get me in a ‘New York state of mind,’ but I never had time for all that. My life at the ranch was busy and full. And later, in college, I was consumed with playing catch-up, learning about social issues and global crises and all the other realities I’d been sheltered from. Still, Haley emailed me regularly, sending links and counting down the days ’til graduation and our triumphant move to the Big Apple.
No matter how much black I wore, no matter how much or little I said, how hot, cool, aloof or impassioned I was: I wasn’t a New Yorker. Eventually, the neighborhood pickpockets and purse-snatchers really got me down, especially after Haley moved to her boyfriend’s place uptown. And one night after work, I found the words “Go home” spray painted in fluorescent green on my apartment door. I went in and packed my bags.
“You still with me?” Tripp asked. I blinked and looked up at him.
“Sorry.” I shook my head and laughed. “Yeah. New York. I guess I didn’t have it in me. Wasn’t hungry enough. Isn’t that what they say?”
Once again he held my eyes. “What are you hungry for, Alex?” His gaze was penetrating.
I felt my whole body respond. I blushed, coughed, and took a sip of water. I had to look away to compose myself.
What am I hungry for?
Yesterday, I had no idea. But in that moment, I couldn’t imagine wanting anything more than what was sitting across from me. Watching me. Waiting for this dinner to be finished so we could leave. Together.
“Oh, the usual,” I said instead.
He twirled the wine in his glass.
“So, were you working in New York?” he prompted.
“I worked for Hill Holiday. A friend found the job for me.” One of Haley’s mom’s ex-boyfriends, to be exact.
“That’s a great firm. Did you work with Mike Salmon or Keith Hutton?”
I laughed. Those men were executives. Michael Salmon was the CFO, and Keith was the chairman of the board. I was on the thirteenth floor in a cubicle that faced the bathroom.
“No, not much contact with those guys. If we had crossed paths, though, I’m sure they would have appreciated the turquoise, studded cowboy hat I wore on my first day.” I raised my glass and smiled.
“Oh, yes, I did.”
Tripp clapped, threw his head back, and laughed, making my gaffe seem charming.
“New York can be tough on your own,” he acknowledged.
“Actually, I went with a friend. She’s still there. Loves it.” I wondered how Haley was doing. We rarely saw each other once she married Karl, and hadn’t spoken since I moved home several months ago.
“Well, it’s not for everyone. I did my time there, too. Couldn’t wait to get back to California,” he said in a tone that made feel me that I was being let off the hook. I sat back in my seat, sighed, and smiled at him.
“Come to Marin next weekend.”
“Are you serious?” I asked.
“Yes. I want to take you riding.”
I flew to Marin the following Friday, first class, Billy with his own seat in a carrier beside me. Tripp and I were engaged three months later.
We got married two months after that.
Now here I was, eleven months to the day after we met, naked and pacing in my favorite fancy boots, awaiting Tripp’s return. It seemed Ray LaMontagne was crooning too mournfully, so I clomped over to skip the song. “Let’s try something a little more light-hearted,” I said to the in-wall sound system. Next up was Van Morrison’s ‘Tupelo Honey.’ Moody, but definitely romantic. It would have to do. I’d combed my memory for every fantasy, idea, and desire Tripp had ever expressed.
Tonight, I vowed, we’d do it all. With determination, I readjusted my stockings, put on the turquoise cowboy hat, and cracked my whip.
When I saw headlights illuminating the garage door, I bolted back to our bedroom (clomp, clomp, clomp), dimmed the lights, and propped myself against the king pillows. The whip’s handle poked my side. “Ouch!”
Legs crossed. Hat tilted. Hair to the side. No, forward.
I was sweating.
Two minutes went by. Then five. Then eight. Tripp was rustling around in the kitchen, and I heard Billy bark outside. I was about to get up when he finally walked into the bedroom with Billy at his heels, flicked on the lights, and tossed a pile of magazines and papers on the bed. Without a word, he opened the French doors and said, “Back outside, Bill.”
He dropped onto the banquette at the foot of our bed with his back to me.
“I’m exhausted,” he said, loosening his tie and unbuttoning his shirt. Tripp always dressed formally when he traveled, whatever the destination. He stood and walked to the closet without looking at me, then turned to go into the bathroom.
“So, how was it?” I called, taking off the hat and then putting it back on.
Tripp emerged and leaned against the nine-foot, cherry wood doorframe, toothbrush in hand. He looked around the room as if he didn’t recognize it. Finally, his eyes rested on me for a second. I cocked my head to the side and started to say my big line-‘Care to climb on, cowboy?’-when Tripp interrupted.
“Did you ride today?” He was back to gazing at something through the French doors, although it was dark outside.
“No,” I replied.
“What’s with the outfit?” He still wasn’t looking at me.
“I was attempting to seduce you,” I said, tossing my hat on the floor. “But something tells me you’re not in the mood.”
He looked at me again. “Cute.”
“Clearly not,” I said, reaching for a cashmere throw to cover myself.
“Al, just let me take a shower. I need a few minutes.”
“Okay,” I said. Allowing myself to feel hopeful again, I posed for him one last time and said, “So do you want The Cowgirl, or just a gorgeous naked woman in your bed?”
He offered a meager smile and said, “Just my wife, please,” then disappeared into the bathroom.
I threw myself back and sprawled on the bed. It was time to rethink my strategy. I sat up and winced at my reflection, ridiculous in the glare of overhead light. Then it dawned on me: Tripp said it himself. He didn’t want some cartoonish seduction; he just wanted me, his wife. Maybe that was the problem: I was trying too hard, and Tripp just wanted the real thing. I peeled off my costume and slipped into the steamy shower beside him. Inhaling the scent of sandalwood soap, I watched the curves of his back for a moment.
Then I reached for him.
“Alex!” He jumped forward and bumped the shower nozzle. Gripping his head, he spun toward me. “What are you doing?”
Stunned by his response, I wondered the same thing. Tripp leaned over and turned on the second showerhead, clearly indicating that I should move over. I dutifully stepped under the other downpour of water and turned to face Tripp, who was consumed with the task of lathering himself. The sight of him inspired my determination.
“We should name our house Twin Falls,” I joked.
Tripp didn’t say anything, but the pounding of water was loud, so maybe he didn’t hear me.
“Here we are, alone together,” I tried in a louder voice. “Tell you what, king-sized beds and double showers aren’t doing anything for marriage these days . . . ”
Tripp looked over at me without saying anything. He was soaping his chest now, and I was succumbing to frustration.
“Well, babe, can’t wait to hear about your adventure. Must have been pretty intense ’cause you’ve barely said a word to me. I’ve missed you, you know.”
I paused; then, against my better instincts, I reached for him again, suddenly self-conscious.
Tripp stepped back, this time hitting the back of his head.
“Shit!” he said.
“Forget it. This was clearly a bad idea.”
Tripp grabbed for my hand.
“Sorry. Let’s just talk when I get out.”
We looked at each other for a second.
When Tripp finally turned off the water, I had retreated back to the bed. I thought about trying to look sexy, but my track record had been so horrendous that I went for an attempt at cute. Tripp liked the pink cashmere robe, so I threw it on, failing to dry myself completely. It felt like being wrapped in saran wrap and smelled like the barn after a rainstorm. I wanted to pull the covers over my head. Instead, I cinched the robe and put on some lip balm, reasoning with myself. He was exhausted. He just needed space. I leaned against the pillows and grabbed a magazine from the stack Tripp had deposited on the bed. It was Yoga Journal.
I opened to a page that had been dog-eared.
Anusara in Atlanta:
Yogini Lauren Gates on visualization, playful practice, and the benefits of aromatherapy.
I proceeded to leaf through what was basically a ten-page centerfold spread, the voluptuous model performing what could only be called contortion yoga. My heart sank as I scanned the pictures, a leg behind her head here, a perfect backbend there. I pulled the robe tighter across my chest. Tripp obviously had studied these pictures.
Then I saw the post-it.
“firstname.lastname@example.org” was printed in purple felt-tip pen with the words “Come back soon, Warrior!” written underneath.
My stomach flipped.
I jumped to my feet and began pacing again, a thousand awful scenarios racing through my head. Just then, Tripp strolled out of the bathroom looking so hot that I wanted to scream. His towel hung from his waist and the muscles of his perfectly toned abs were tan. Tan? Why was he tan? And what were those red circles all over his torso? He looked liked he’d been in a fight with a mechanical tennis tutor.
“Tripp, are you tan?” I squinted. “And what are all those marks on your chest?”
He was riffling through the blue-shirt section of his closet. Stopping for a moment, he looked down at his sudden case of gargantuan hives and sighed.
“Cupping, Alex,” he said, annoyed by my scrutiny.
“I’m sorry, what?” My towel turban flopped to the side.
Yes, Tripp, I heard you the first time.
“What’s ‘cupping’? I thought you were doing a meditation seminar or something.”
“I was on wellness retreat,” he emphasized the words as if I’d have trouble understanding. When had our communication broken down so completely?
“Okay, so is ‘cupping’ part of your new enlightenment strategy?” I asked.
Tripp hated when I was sarcastic, but he was being just plain shady. Sarcasm was more than deserved. I mean, you can’t switch the Wall Street Journal for yoga porn and think your wife won’t ask questions. Not to mention the mysterious tan and suspicious skin condition. It was like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Sarcasm was more than deserved.
“Cupping, Alex, happens to be an ancient acupressure technique that opens your energy channels. You ought to try it. You seem stuck.”
Stuck? Was he being sarcastic now? Who did he think was trying to get things moving here?
“My energy channels are open,” I retorted, not sure what that even meant. He was speaking a vaguely familiar language that I associated with my mom.
He sighed again. “Alex,” He spoke to the row of gleaming shoes that lined his closet floor. “You’re a beautiful woman. And I love you. But I don’t think that you . ..”
He hesitated, then turned to meet my eyes. “I don’t think that we’re at the same place in our lives.”
My throat was suddenly very dry.
“Do you understand what I’m trying to say, Alex?”
I swallowed hard and croaked, “Would you please stop using my name?”
He stood in front of me and put his hands on my shoulders. I felt like a trapped animal. My eyes darted around our bedroom. What was happening? The Oriental rug, the hardwood floors, the Pratesi sheets and Cartier alarm clock. What once had seemed so impressive suddenly seemed only menacing.
“Alex, I’m leaving.”
I gagged on a wisp of highlighted hair that had sprung from the towel and stuck to my lip balm. Tripp liked my hair blonde. I’d had it done that day.
“What?” I sputtered.
“I’ll let you take a minute.” He turned and walked into the bathroom.
I followed him, stumbling over a pile by the door: boots, corset, thigh highs . . .
“What do you mean ‘you’re leaving’?”
Tripp turned from the mirror where he was preparing to shave as if nothing had happened. As he stared at me, I felt like one-eared Billy at a dog show.
“Stop looking at me like that! You can’t tell me it’s over and then look at me like that!” I yelled. He smiled mildly.
“Alex, you need to connect to your Truth. I can’t tell you how. That’s your journey. I can only tell you that I can’t follow this path with you anymore.
My truth isn’t here. I found my Authentic Self.” I was beyond insulted. It was one thing to hear this stuff from my mother, who, if nothing else, lived her mundane ‘truth’ day after day, but not from a man who has eight sets of identical platinum cufflinks.
“You found what, where?”
“My Truth is in Atlanta, Alex. I found a place where my spirit can truly soar.” He started shaving.
The light bulb went on, and with the flip of a switch, I went from pissed to full on enraged.
“Wait a minute-your piece of ass is in Atlanta! Let’s not get confused here.
Would your ‘Truth’ happen to be a contortionist with perfect boobs? Holy shit, Tripp, are you sleeping with-with Lauren-Lauren-” I spun around, looking for the magazine.
“This isn’t about sex, Alex. Lauren and I are united at a soul level, which
I don’t expect you to understand. We’ve traveled through many lifetimes together.” He put the razor down and rubbed his smooth jaw line.
“What? Are you talking past lives with me, Tripp? Six months ago, you believed ‘God’ was a nickname for Microsoft. Can you please speak the actual truth here?”
“Like I said, I don’t expect you to understand. I found my path. Yoga has taken me to my true self, my higher self. None of this stuff really matters.” He was looking at himself in the mirror. “Lauren has been my guide.”
I looked at him in cross-eyed disbelief, then ran to grab the Yoga Journal.
Panting, I returned to the bathroom, opened to the dog-eared page, and shoved it in his face.
“This woman opened your soul with some . . . ” I pulled the magazine back, furiously scanning the article. “Lavender and eucalyptus?” I was seething.
I threw the magazine at his face and missed. It hit his chest pathetically and flopped to the floor. He stepped over it and went back to the bedroom, slid into his jeans commando-style, and picked up his suitcase, still packed.
“Alex, I’m sorry it has to be this way, but there is no talking to you about this.”
No talking to me?
“How are we supposed to talk when you are never here?” I cried.
“This was a mistake, and I haven’t known how to tell you. I’m leaving, Alex.”
I ran down the hall after him, caught my robe on a drawer pull, and lost the entire thing. Who makes robes out of cashmere anyway? When I finally wrestled it back on and reached the door, Tripp’s black Range Rover was sailing down the street, a large sticker on the rear window proclaiming, “Namaste.”
**About Kate Bishop: Kate Bishop is the collective spirit of three friends with a shared passion for writing, yoga and a good, old-fashioned (or New Age) love story. Breathe was inspired by their experiences both on and off the mat and was born of a genuine desire to throw some love, light and laughter into the mix.
Kristin Tone graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Psychology and received an M.A. in Education from Lesley University. A yoga teacher and an educator, she currently teaches at PS1 Pluralistic School in Santa Monica, CA.
Talie Kattwinkel earned a degree in Women’s Studies and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. She currently specializes in bodywork and healing.
Bridget Evans attended the University of Maryland where she studied education. She taught in the Marin County school system for ten years and co-created OUTWORD, an outdoor writing program for children. She is also a yoga teacher. All three women are mothers to small children.
**Click HERE to visite Kate’s other stops on the CLP blog tour!