Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"It's not a costume, it's a gi."

I remember hearing those corrective words resonate across the silence of the gym after a BJJ-ignorant woman asked Parrumpa a question about "the costumes they wear." There was a seething and disciplinary patience to his voice. She got the point just as clearly as if he'd screamed it to her face.

I was talking to an old friend of mine today about life things...we're in our 30s now and it's humorous to look back at some of the thoughts we had just 10 or so years ago--namely, thinking corporate jobs were something grand and glorious to aspire to. We used to happily shop at Ross, picking out suits and blouses, pants and shoes that we were confident were a healthy and happy part of joining the corporate world. A decade later, we're both disillusioned with the culture of stuffy business, both of us having forked off into unconventional paths of earning income. I though, still have to fake the funk from time to time and toss on a suit. "It's like a costume...they don't even feel like real clothing anymore." I'll admit, I pull them off well. I once had a boss tell me he envied how well I carried myself when dressed "professionally"...that I was a mix of poise and FBI agent. I think I enjoy my height at its fullest when I'm in merino wool and 4" heels. It does though...feel like a game.

Over the holiday, I was doing laundry and talking with my brother who's in visiting from Japan. I had a batch of BJJ laundry on my lap...a tangled mass of gis, Underarmour, balaklavas and sports bras with a periwinkle blue belt lazily snaking through. I love the feel of it all. I balled it up on my side and took a nap in the scratchy cotton mass. I find the roughness and faint smell of sweat comforting. I find it real. A gi may look strange, but it's come to embody some of the most genuine experiences I've had in my life...much moreso than the costume of the corporate world ever could.