We are part of the wheel, part of the circle.
Let me begin somewhere in the middle,
if there is no end and there is no begininning,
maybe I belong somwhere in the middle – that might be alright for right now –
continue on – don’t stop you, stupid girl.
when will she let it go –
not today, not in this soft snow –
do your thing and do it well –
it swung around once, twice,
till it fell –
but she picked it up –
her orbit, her circle, her whole.
I’ve been hooping for six years, spinning a hoop around my body so I can burn calories, tone muscles and occasionally, get lost in myself. I try to hoop two to three times a week, and usually with a combination of different hoops. I have quite the collection. JaMocha is my main hoop and Junior like a sidekick. When I want an arm workout I lift AquaBlue, a small 30 inch hoop that I filled with water to make heavy. The Twins are identical except one is purple and one is white. They are thin and strong and move like nunchakus and weigh as much as a feather. If I’m feeling especially lazy, if I wanna rock in my hoop like a Sunday morning drive, Betsy and Cadillac are always happy to take me for a spin. I hang these big gals from the ceiling above my bed, and I’ve promised like an old timer who parks rusted cars in barns that I will never get rid of them. Betsy is 52 inches, wrapped in the same maroon tape as JaMocha and Junior. She hangs inside Cadillac who is a huge 64 incher. There are more wrinkles in her tape-job than any other hoop.
Every night, I fall asleep looking into Cadillac’s center, realizing my body lies in her middle, like I separate her yin and yang, but maybe she separates mine, I’m not sure. I am sure in what goes around comes around, action and reaction, cause and effect, a push and pull. When I close my eyes, sometimes I think I understand the world through light and dark and time and force, through the movement of the hoop with me as its axis. I am the sun and the hoop my moon and earth.
So at the end of my hoop workout yesterday, I started thinking about a few friends who have found their way to the hoop. nothing makes me happier than to hear that someone has just recently picked up a hoop and fell in love with it. I have been trying to put into the words why I love this practice as much as I do. Hoops (hula-hoops that is) have been in my life for six years and I can’t seem to really put into words everything it does for me without sounding a little mental. I started playing for the circle team in 2009 and my entire life has change. The circle has become my protection, my voice, my sanctuary, my understanding of the entire world and life. Circle of life, people. No beginnings and no endings. These are not small lessons. These are not insignificant understandings that have trickled down to what some people think of an insignificant thing.
But where was I? Oh yes. So at the end of my workout, I started thinking about the ladies who have come to the hoop, and I told myself that I would hoop (which you could insert the word ‘pray’ for hoop,) I told myself that I would hoop for my friends to whatever song came on next. The next song happened to be Human Family by Maya Angelou, my favorite poet. (If you have not heard this album, Caged Bird Songs, do yourself a favor and buy it.) I hooped it up for them and guess what? I made a video. (insert eye roll) *I have not made a hooping video in quite some time because my computer is full. Seriously, this little ole mac had to work extra hard to make this video. seriously, i had to take a break because i thought my computer was going to overheat.
Welcome to the hoop, ladies.
I paid $30 for a hoop to a woman who made them in her apartment. The red hoop was waiting for me just like she said it would be. It wasn’t a fire-engine red, but it sparked against the subdued wall that it leaned on. It was red like weathered bricks on chimneys. I slid the hoop into the backseat and glanced at it every few seconds in the rearview mirror. Like a mother checking on her newborn, I put my hand on the hoop every time we came to a stoplight.
I understand that Old Red was just a piece of plastic, but she was powerful. She rolled over my body pressing a weight on my skin that was familiar yet fleeting. She was a circle of protection, a chance to move in ways that I had only done with the curtains drawn in the privacy of my bedroom. I was thrusting my waist, my hips, my legs in broad daylight, and it was okay, and I was okay. Old Red changed something in me. She calmed the restless inner-child, and awoke a strong, sensual woman. I felt sexy for the first time in my life thanks to Old Red. She filled a void that I didn’t know was there. I felt bad about myself until she rolled over me and made me pay attention to my hips, my stomach, my arms, my butt and I realized, I wasn’t so bad.
I gave Old Red to a lady who I thought needed her more than me. I wonder where Old Red is now.
You might call my hoops, “hula hoops,” but I don’t call them that. Most people who call themselves hoopers don’t call them that either. Hula hoop is trademarked and marketed by Wham-O. They are small, plastic, light-weight circles you can get at any local department store for a few bucks. They are tucked back in the kid’s section because they are, in fact, made for kids. There is nothing wrong with Wham-O style hula hoops, but when I say hoops, I am talking about adult size hoops that are bigger, heavier, and made for the child in you but can fit around the adult you. They are made from irrigation tubing, are somewhere around 42 inches in diameter, weigh nearly a pound, and are wrapped in the sparkliest, happiest tape known to man. I used to sell these hoops out on the street, and on the streets, I heard, “I can’t do it,” from more adults than I can count. The simplicity is this: If you say you can’t, you are probably right.
Audience of One, Please.
I went back to Hooper Park today and this time I had a bit of an audience. I’m actually not so sure I had any kind of audience, but sometimes, because I love attention, it makes me feel good to think that I do have an audience even if I don’t. (Some folks were out eating lunch so maybe I did.)
Anyway, I am not looking at them intentionally, trying to pretend that I don’t think that they are watching me. “And I think, oh yay, I can entertain them while they eat.” Anyway, I started warming up, and two minutes or so into my workout, in the midst of doing a whirl or a twirl or something, (actually, I think it was barrel roll grapevine looking things) I step on my own two feet and I bit it. Tumbled right to the ground, leaves all over me. Dead grass in my hair. Skinned up my knee. I get up. Not a single person has noticed me.
And man, that just made me laugh. Ultimately, I hoop for me.
What do you hoop for?