“Hi there!” the woman said, and I knew I remembered her. Or I knew I should remember her.
My son and I stood staring at her at the YMCA near those tiny lockers with the punch codes. I peered a little more closely, hoping I could pull something from the back of my brain, and then I shook my head.
“No. I can’t think of who you are. Where do I know you from?”
“Aikido! I’m Lorelei. My sister and I took it with you and my dad in Tacoma.”
The light, I am so happy to report, went off in my head then. I did know her and have a fuzzy memory of her face once more.
I asked how she recognized me after all this time.
“I never forget a face,” she said. So it would seem. I took my last Aikido class before my oldest son was born some time in 1998 which means that she recognized me almost twenty years later.
But after seeing Lorelei, I did give the ukemi another try in the secrecy of my own living room. I’m pleased to report that I can still go backwards and forwards on the right side. The left side is another story. I also cannot recommend trying a flourish with pointed toes. That, it turns out, wasn’t what the Aikido founders had in mind when rolling away from an attack.
At least I can recall some things.
In case you think I was turning gymnastic style somersaults, here’s instruction on how to get started with a roll. Learning these made me feel as uncoordinated as that Disney hippo on a balance beam. I spent a lot of time very close to the floor getting acquainted with every wrinkle in the mat.
And here is another guy who has his ukemi down. I was never built up to that mid-air flip, but I loved that feeling of falling and not getting hurt. Last night I remembered I still do.
Extra note: Lorelei’s memory isn’t perfect, either.
‘Killer with a K!’ she said.
It was Karrie. My nickname was Karrie with a K. (Killer! Ha!)