‘Why did you let her out?!’

933918_677807262247117_285741664_n It’s Monday morning, the garbage truck is here, and it feels like the stories of my rushed-right-now life are slipping through my fingers. I have only twenty minutes before I’d better jump in the shower, don my yoga garb, jump in my luxury Oldsmobile Regency Elite, 1991 edition “boat,” pick up Olivia, put on my teacher hat, and unlock the door for my wonderful, eager, early-bird students.

My account of Part Three of the trip to L.A. for the yoga and scoliosis workshop is on hold (Parts One and Two are saved on my Suzaji blog) as I wait for the teacher, Elise Miller, to send the photos.

But just now, as I was sitting outside looking up at the pine trees, listening to the nearby chickens, and sharing my spelt toast and WildWood sprouted veggie burger with Honey and Chico, I was remembering how last Sunday, around this time, after two days of being inside buildings and hardly getting any fresh air or natural light, I decided once again to leave the sleeping beauty, Olivia, and sneak out for an early-morning walk. But, just to be on the safe side, I gently nudged her awake and told her I’d be back in about an hour.

On Saturday morning we had checked out of the Marriott. On Saturday evening, in order to attend the Sunday session without the long round trip from Ojai, we stayed with Olivia’s brother (my nephew) and his wife, who live about an hour away from the L.A. Iyengar Yoga Institute.

When we arrived, I had taken careful note of the lay of the land, the parking garage underneath the apartment complex, the lobby, the long hallway leading up to the apartment, etc. Everyone was still asleep as I exited through the living room into the long hallway—and it never occurred to my country bumpkin mind that I might need a key to get back in.

So I retraced my steps down the hallway, into the lobby, and found the front door. I walked down the steps, and since it was early Sunday morning there was virtually no traffic. The first thing I noticed as I headed in the direction that I thought might lead to a coffee shop was a series of signs planted on the tiny green lawn islands in front of the rows of apartment complexes:

“CAUTION – This Lawn Has Been Chemically Treated and May Be Hazardous to Your Pets and Feet.”

“Please Keep Pets Off Lawn: Chemically Treated”

I can’t find the page in my notebook where I copied the signs with the ordinances stating that dog owners are responsible for picking up dog poo, but the message was loud and clear that if you don’t pick up after your pooch you are breaking the law. At the same time, I noticed a growing parade of people exiting the buildings with mostly little foo foo dogs but a few lovely pit bulls and other larger breeds, too.

After about a mile in one direction I gave up on finding a coffee shop, turned around, and retraced my steps. I knew I was at the right apartment building because I remembered there was a giant empty plastic slurpee cup on the ground nearby.

I was feeling very proud of myself for not getting lost. I walked up the steps leading to the entrance and turned the door knob. It was locked tight.

“No problem,” I thought. “I’ll just sit on the steps and call Olivia to let me in.” But, alas, I reached a recording saying her message system wasn’t on yet—and Olivia didn’t pick up. OK. As I was thinking what to do, I noticed the door opening as a pleasant, plump older woman and her dog came out. “Aha,” I thought. “I’ll just wait, and next time the door opens I’ll explain my plight, and before the door closes I’ll get back in.”

So I did a few seated twists, tried calling Olivia again (I didn’t have my nephew’s number), and waited. Sure enough, after about ten minutes the door swung open and an elderly lady with her darling little dog stood in the wide-open doorway. Here was my chance. “Wait a moment,” I said, smiling at her. “I’m a guest here and I don’t have a key to get back in . . . so don’t close the door. . .”

Well, this wasn’t Ojai. The lady looked at me like I might be an ax murderer. She stood her ground, planting herself between me and the still slightly open door. “I don’t think so,” she said.

“Oh, please, I can tell you the name of the people I’m staying with. They’re still asleep and I don’t have their number.”

But she pulled her little dog through the door and explained that this would be “against apartment regulations.” I could easily have shoved her aside and made a mad dash into the building before the door closed, but I thought better of it.

“Now what should I do?” I asked her.

As she was walking away she pointed to the row of mailboxes by the door. I hadn’t noticed that there was a call box. I didn’t know how to operate it and had to practically pull her back to show me how. A few minutes later my nephew, still in his pajamas, rescued me.

When I got inside and told Olivia what had happened, she said, “This is so weird. I had a dream that Joel (her brother) was standing over the bed, asking me, ‘Where is Suza?’ The dream was so real. I told him you’d gone on a walk. And then he got mad and yelled at me, ‘Why did you let her out?!’

Truly, I felt like an escapee from a nursing home. All that was missing was my wrist I.D. band.

Photo credit: Olivia Klein

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