Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day of People

I've done Tae Kwon Do in a number of places in my life and this morning was the first time I did a workout in Washington Park in downtown Cincinnati.  When I went to school downtown 10 years ago, Washington Park was not a place that one would enter alone.  But in the past few years, downtown Cincinnati has seen incredible rebirth and this morning it was bustling with activity.  Food kiosks, and a flea market with dozens of booths were setting up on the green in the park.  The dogs were in their dog park, the children in their's, a group dance workout got underway during the time I was there, people were laughing and greeting one another before 8am.

As I began my workout, two African American women walking on the sidewalk yelled out to me, "Yeah, you get it, girl!"  I waved to them and one of them started over to me, "Girl, what you doin'?  I'm 'bout to get up in your business.  What you doin'?"  I told them it was Tae Kwon Do and they didn't understand but they wanted to be involved all the same.  One of them had a stereo with Reggae music playing, "We came here to do some exercise but they setting stuff up over there.  We lookin' to do some exercise.  Can we join you?  I seen you and I liked your energy."  I welcomed them and said that it would be fine if we had Reggae music with us.  We went through some of the workout together, sit-ups, leg lifts, etc. It's challenging but they were doing great and we got several opportunities to punch and kihop (yell) together in the blue and green morning.  Afterwards they just lay there and we chatted for a bit.  Ti and Naia were their names. They spoke about their understanding of marital arts and mentioned a self-defense class in one of the centers; they spoke in such a way that I became aware of a necessity that I've never needed in my life.  It was very memorable to share a piece of the morning with them.

In Japan I meet many people during my workouts, but none have ever had the audacity to join.  Several other people came over to talk to me for awhile this morning, telling me things about themselves as naturally as though we were old friends.  This is another voice of America that I have missed greatly.  The audacity and natural openness of this downtown community, of this shared space.  Hearing their laughter and openness in the morning.

This was also the day of a great family gathering before the wedding.  My brother Ben and I worked to create an active volcano cake with dry ice in honor of the many strange special effects cakes made over the years in our home.  Several of our extended families gathered together to play games in the backyard, lie in the hammock, and make s'mores.

Volcano cake with bride and groom ducks, birds, palm trees, and aquatic animals (not pictured)

Afterwards we all helped my brother load up the car for the wedding tomorrow.  It was a day of community and being together.  And tomorrow, a joining of two.

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