She's one of the celebrities I actually wrote to before moving to Los Angeles. A friend of a friend worked for her production company. I never heard a word back from her office.
She's one of those I've admired from afar, never seeing her in public before. I've watched a biography of this Academy Award winner, seen her over the years with appreciation during our annual Christmas movie marathons, and even though I don't watch scary movies I watched at least four times the classic she did with puffy hair. I read anything that had her name on it during my four years sitting at the network desk, when at least twenty magazines crossed my desk each week.
It was one of those mornings when I barely washed my face, much less gelled my hair only to sweat it all out again.
I showed up in the ill-fitting purple tank top I'd promised myself not to ever wear in public again. I'd just started coming to this particular class. I liked the time... mid-morning with no parking hassles, no smelly room after two packed earlier classes in a row, lots of space to breathe fresh air as I spun to the new teacher's inspiring choice of music. I grabbed the one bike that looked diagonally across at the teacher, and not straight at the mirror.
When Ms. Celebrity entered the mirrored room, I was stunned. She looked healthy, low-key in a plain white t-shirt and black biker shorts. It's only because she's been famous her whole life that most people would recognize her. She's won awards, has undeniable talent, and huge brainpower. I've heard she wishes for anonymity, more than anything else. Both she and Madonna wish they had the ability to walk down any street and people watch undetected. When I hear those who have fame wish for obscurity, it manifests my own desire to stay quiet and under the radar. I like being free to be me without the hassle of questioning whether I'm worthy of pedestal placement or the subsequent pedestal dethroning that takes place so often in our culture.
She sat herself one row back and one seat over to my left. Sitting where I was, it would be obvious if I looked at her, turning my head to the left, or to the right to see her in the mirror. Normally when I spin, I put my head down and go into a meditative trance, digging down deep so I move with absolute intention. With her so close to me, my energy was off, distracted.
The class started. For the first few songs I tried hard to forget that she was even there. That didn't work. I'm quite sure she wasn't thinking about or watching me.
The only other person in the class, a handsome man, had asked us earlier if we minded leaving the fans on above. Neither of us did. Sometimes, when the class is full and moist, the fans are off because some people object to them. Cooler, I was pleased to find I got up to speed with new energy that wasn't there when I awoke.
I tried not to steal glimpses of her. It soon became obvious that even if I stared straight ahead at the teacher, I could see unsaid celebrity out of the corner of my eye. I could tell if she was up off the seat or down with hands on handlebars. By the third song I noticed she wasn't standing up on the pedals when we were. She wasn't bending over the bars and pumping. She's in much better shape than I am. She'd put a heart monitor up under her bra. I worried she was having heart problems.
I kept spinning. My mind never stopped worrying about her. I wished I wasn't thinking about her, but I couldn't help myself. It was the only spinning class I never looked once at the clock.
Near the end of class, the music started skipping, and the pace slackened to the point that our flow was interrupted. I noticed she was holding herself face down, upright, breathing intensely. Then I saw her, out of the corner of my eye, holding her side. Before I could stop myself I said, "Are you OK?"
Turns out she'd had a stitch in her side since the second song. It had stayed with her the entire ride. She was in pain. We all got off our bikes. The teacher asked if she knew yogic breathing. She said, "I used to take yoga."
She packed up her stuff and left, politely saying goodbye on her way out the door.
We three were inhibited by her presence.
How uncomfortable that would be, to have a layer between oneself and the millions one comes into contact with during the span of life. She's been profiled in the public arena since she was a toddler. All these years, she's dealt with this strangled energy interfacing her existence.
I have no clue what that lack of freedom would really feel like, nor would I want to experience it. Some people are so wonderful to come into contact with, especially when the situation is brought on by serendipity. To miss that unexpectedly intimate synchronicity being one with humanity presents would be a great loss. Having millions and the paparazzi in tow wouldn't balance out the equation for me. Would it, does it for you?