Somehow, I hadn’t planned on any of my students dying before me.
Like a mother unable to understand outliving her son, losing Manny has been confusing. Mostly because I don’t want to live on this planet without him. I don’t want to live without his truth and irreverence. I don’t want to experience this country’s demise and ultimate rise of goodness, without his humor.
In ways, he was my teacher. He told me stories of his rabbi and would invite me to Seder, or show me a new book on mysticism keeping him alive. Manual Quintana never stopped practicing his yoga. I’ve seen students come and go, grab their 200 hour and peace out, but Manny never stopped learning. And, that excited me about him. His spirituality ran deep. It saved him again and again.
The artist in me loved him for his edge. Back in the day, he’d show up a class or two, reeking of booze falling over in triangle, though his asana practice was fierce. He had tattoo wings on his back, and would practice shirtless in the summers and another student asked me once, “Is that a superhero…?” “Yes,” I said, because he was.
CEO of MQStyle, he dressed impeccably in a town starving for fashion.
I loved him for that. He’d say to me often, “Emily—you’re not just pretty, you’re beautiful. Like a model.” And he’d make feel that, walk around in that, own that… He supported my work and me as a person more than a handful have in my entire life, and for that—I am speechless.
He was Icarus. Delighted by the edge, turned on by it, and I lived vicariously through him. Didn’t we all? Loving how wild and outrageous he’d go. I was with him on one of his lowest days drinking Ensure, with vodka—on his apartment floor telling me he should probably go to rehab. But, I was also with him in circles of meditation, and deep talks of yoga sutras and ancient mantras.
You see, this is the practice.
To become intimate with all parts of us. Light and shadow. Yoga is not a hierarchy, we are all each other’s teachers. I was never there to judge, and rebel against colleagues who do. He was God in drag, he schooled us all—just by being.
The last time I saw Manny, we sat at Gruet Tasting room in the Hotel St. Francis as he drank a mocktail. He joked about my latest romantic interest, and asked about old flames. He loved sex, and merged often. That too, we shared. A commitment to the creative flow…
These words do not come easy for me, or close to all that I’d like to say. Why do the bright lights have to leave…? Or are they not long for such darkness? The tedium in humanity. Losing Manny was like the day Prince died. We lost an icon. And you may not have known him, except you did… He’s that voice within—
Begging to live.