When Gloria and I first walked into the empty room that is now Yoga Space, it was a mess. It was dirty, dingy, and drab. And yet…there was a “feeling” of friendliness that I felt permeating this space. Where did this friendly feeling come from, I wondered? Eleven years later, I found out:
About 4 months ago I was in the middle of teaching a class when a stranger walked through the door. He realized he was interrupting and left. When class was over, he came back in, apologized, and introduced himself. His name is Rick Higgens, and he lives in Florida, but back in the 60s, he lived in Hyattsville just a few blocks from the studio. Back then, what is now Yoga Space was “Shirley’s Variety Store.”
It was the place to hang out after school for most of the school kids in the neighborhood. It was, apparently, like the old TV show, Happy Days. Shirley’s Variety Store had a soda fountain, a juke box, a telephone booth, and the owner really liked kids. He would sometimes hold a model car contest, and the winners would have their cars displayed in the windows.
It was so loved, that many of the kids that hung out there kept in touch with one-another, and even have their own private Facebook group called “Friends of Shirley’s Variety Store.”
So on Saturday, September 17th, about 40 of them gathered in Hyattsville, and I gave them use of the space for the evening. It was their 53rd reunion. They put up a fake phone booth where the old one used to be, right by the door.
They had a Karaoke machine with lots of the old 60s tunes, and they had a great time singing and dancing and reliving old memories.
On Sunday, they walked around the neighborhood and some of them that used to live close by knocked on some doors, introduced themselves, and if the new owners wanted, they told them stories of what their house used to look like, and gave them any information they might want to know. Yoga Space’s next door neighbor (to the left as you face the front door,) met the person that lived in her house in the 50s. She offered that person and his wife a tour of the house.
As Saturday’s event unfolded, they all came up to me throughout the evening, and thanked me for the use of the space. And almost to a person, they would add these words: “You have no idea how much this space means to us.”
I asked Gloria to let the Hyattsville Life and Times know what was going on, and on Sunday, a reporter followed them around, and wrote a story about their reunion. Here is that link:
And so, I finally solved the mystery of why the space felt so friendly. But Yoga Space maintains that friendly vibe to this day because of all of you that attend yoga, Pilates, and Feldenkrais classes. You have all turned this space into more than just a yoga studio; it is a community gathering place where we sometimes set aside half of a yoga class just because we are discussing an important current event. I often call it “conversational yoga.” We share personal stories of our lives in class, both happy and sad.
Please continue to come to Yoga Space, and continue to keep those friendly vibes flowing!