Kehoe rodgers clothing-optional yoga retreat leaves its mark gas questions

When she told me that she booked a trip to a yoga retreat in California, I was stunned. First, I had to confirm that I was in no way financially backing this excursion. After I was confident I didn’t have to write a check, I was all for it. Totally supported it. That was in December.

Unbeknownst to my daughter, my visions alternated between Rod Serling’s “The Hitch-Hiker” and any air disaster movie that was ever made. I pictured my only daughter behind the wheel of a huge Oldsmobile, her hair perfectly coiffed in a French chignon (ala Inger Stevens) with an odd man sitting in the back seat, his eerie smile taking up the whole rear view mirror.

Being the good mother that I am, I did not share these visions with Kaitlyn. She was too freaked out by what happened with Southwest Flight 1380, where a passenger tragically died after an engine malfunction. I assured her that lightening, so to speak, won’t hit twice and that now she was less likely to experience any airplane disaster. Then I suggested she do what I always do when flying – take Ativan. And a lot of it.

The night before she was leaving Kaitlyn, Matthew and I were sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner (Tommy was in Tucson, Arizona for work – and oddly, I didn’t have any concerns when he left. Hmmmm, that’s got to mean something, but I’m not in the mood to self-analyze) when Kaitlyn provided me with an update on her trip – info that she just learned herself.

He was, after all, the parent who randomly sent Kaitlyn photos of sea gulls and clowns, just because she’s freaked out by both. After his mom died and he inherited (reluctantly) her collection of clown statues (yes, that’s right, my mother-in-law was obsessed with clowns) Jim found a new past time. Every other week or so, after Kaitlyn left the house for the night, Jim would dive into his stash of clown statues and place a few – not too many because that would be too obvious – in spots that would only catch Kaitlyn’s eye subtly. You’d think after one or two times of these clown visitations Kaitlyn’s skin would thicken. It didn’t. That screech she emitted on the inaugural stealthy clown invasion was just as ear-piercing as the last one.

In the middle of my laughing fit Matthew asked what clothing optional meant. I told him that people can be naked if they wanted to. I should have been a bit more careful in word choice. Matthew may have Down syndrome, but he’s still a teenager and like most teenagers the sounds of bodily functions are music to his ears. So, of course when he heard the word naked, well, he couldn’t stop laughing. Some things are just innate.

Once I stopped laughing I checked the resort’s website, and we were able to determine that not all areas of the retreat were clothing optional. OK, I said to Kate, you may be able to avoid naked people (Matthew thought this sentence was the funniest thing he ever heard.)

And the next day, she was gone. She drove herself to an airport shuttle service at 3 in the morning, got to the airport and winged her way to San Fran (without the anxiety-relieving help I would have required.) She landed, picked up her rental car, made a pit stop at the scenic wonder of Donner’s Pass (site of the cannibal-fest established by the Donner Party during the Gold Rush) and drove on in to Sierraville.

Once she got to the airport, I was finally able to relax. While I was thrilled for her that she was accomplishing this, I was incredibly nervous. I kept seeing that Hitch Hiker, or Ted Bundy, or an FLDS church member in the market for another wife, or a cult leader with long hair, a long beard and holding a daisy. I texted her “DON’T LET PEOPLE KNOW YOU’RE TRAVELING ALONE!” Yes, I used shouty caps because I wanted to impress upon her how important that message was.

I was thrilled that she was strong enough, brave enough and adventurous enough to make this experience happen. But I should not have been surprised. She showed this character trait when she was just six years old. We were on the boardwalk in Ocean City (MD) on a cloudy, overcast afternoon. She wanted to go on a ride that was like the Salt and Pepper (capsules that turned, twisted and went around in a nauseating fashion). There was no way I was going on with her, and Jim wasn’t about to, either. Tommy was too young. That’s OK, she said, “I’ll go by myself. I really want to ride this.”

Jim and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, and let her go. We held each other’s gaze for a minute, but didn’t say anything. I think we both realized that our little girl had just showed a side of herself that would take her far in life.