Body Heat

It’s the last of my four week session at the Media Arts Center for a portraiture session. The week before I was about 3 minutes late into the session. I have to be at my gigs at least 10 minutes to disrobe and be ready for the podium. But the stupid bus was caught in traffic, missed the connecting bus, so I took a cab from Wellington to Catherine Street and I barely made it in time.

But this week was a little different. I got into town at an appropriate time, I had a half hour to walk from Wellington to Catherine, it was a beautiful day so that’s what I did. I reached Somerset and ran into the Quickie Convenient store to pick something up to eat. It’s one of my biggest fears caught on the podium with my stomach rumbling like a monster truck for three hours! How embarrassing. Anyways, I’m still at the store pacing around trying to find something healthy to eat, when I notice the clock saying it was a quarter to whatever, and I’m like “Oh, no! I got to get out of here, I’m gonna be late!” I dashed out the store and bolted up the street, like there’s no tomorrow, I swear I felt like that rabbit in Alice in Wonderland who runs around screaming “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date! I’m late!”

I get to the studio and everybody is all casual and relaxed setting up their easel getting ready for the session. I enter quiet but hurriedly and run into the change room. As I reenter, I see people sittin around, chit chatting, when of the artists looks at me and says “why don’t you help yourself to a cup of coffee, we still have about 5, 10 minutes before we start.”

I glance at the studio clock to notice time, “Damn! I’m early?! You mean I could have gotten something to eat?” I tell them the convenient store’s clock was wrong and I ran to the studio without something to eat out of fear of being late two weeks in a row. “so, I apologize ahead of time if my stomach gets a little chatty.” I laugh nervously.

“Oh poor Susannah” and they start looking for snacks at their workstations that they could feed to me. Yup, I’ll take chocolate and I ram a piece down my throat, disrobe and I’m on the podium sitting still and all relaxed into my pose. Things were doing pretty good until I felt a tickle or I should say a little trickle going down my back. Hmmm. What’s that all about? I feel another trickle, and another, now it’s under my arms. Good lord! Am I sweating?!! Holy crap, what do I do now! I’m feeling about five or six streams of trickles of perspiration, slowly dripping down my body and it tickles at the same time.

Why is this happening? I’m thinking to myself, I can’t stop it! Then I feel another three more trickles going down the other side of my body. All of a sudden I broke out in a nervous laugh and everyone head in the groups darts up. “I’m so sorry!” I say “I’m sweating everywhere, I don’t know what’s happening to me.” They all squint to look to see these shimmering lines going down my body. “Yeah, I see! Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I am.” I say as I’m trying to wipe my body with the back of my hand and I resume the pose. And it starts all over again! I stifle my laugh and said to myself “Okay, if you want to sweat? Go right ahead, but I’m sitting straight and still for these guys, I don’t care if you want to act like a leaky faucet.” I didn’t realize that my body was actually listening because I began to perspire even more. One of the female artists notices, casually glanced at the clock and says softly…well not so softly but – kind. “I think we’re coming up close to our break, maybe we should take quick break now?

I jump off the podium shaking my head muttering to myself “what’s going on, I’m 36 years old I can’t be menopausal!” I go to the bathroom and wipe myself down, return to the studio and resume my pose in front of the group. My body starts to leak again. I ignore it and somehow managed get through to the long break. I put on some close and go out side to get some fresh air and clear my head. I return to the studio and strike up a conversation with a couple of artists who were concerned for my well being. I begin to tell them that first, I was fine and relayed the story of how hungry I was yet having to run from the store to the studio. I guess my body was overheating and the perspiration is the it’s way of cooling down.

The artists nod their heads in understanding when all of a sudden my body starts to shake. I got the shivers. I’m cold and I have to wrap myself in sweaters to stay warm and I ask for the heat to be turned on and spent the rest of the session shivering..

The body isn’t it a beautiful instrument. When we are clothed (covered) and busy running around in our day-to-day live we are so unaware of what we can sometime put our body through. It has all these built in mechanisms to protect itself, to purge itself, to cleanse and to heal itself. I’ve given up trying to anticipate what my body might do on the podium. I’ve learn to just accept it – and move on.

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