Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Dance Teacher # 2

“I want you to take the pose of the divine,” she told us at the beginning of class. “Show me the posture that connects you to the divine.”

I closed my eyes and instinctively threw one hand straight up toward the heavens, then put my other hand behind me, thrusting it down past my butt like a tough little rooster tail, grounding me to the earth. This was the divine.

“Now I want you to take the opposite pose,” she said, “the anti-divine, if you will. Show me that.” I concaved my chest and curled in, my hands at spastic angles in front of me like arthritic branches grown wrong, my face contorted and twisted in pain.

“How do you know that’s not the divine?” she asked, as we stood there in our contorted postures. “How do you know that’s not the entrance to the divine?” she asked again.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Day five at Esalen, the famous meditation and awareness center in Big Sur. I’m on a personal retreat; alone, doing nothing every day except reading and napping, making art, taking baths in the sulfur tubs, meditating and writing.

Day five and I’m standing naked in the open air shower on the cliffs above the sea after my third or fourth sulfur bath of the day. These daily baths have softened and quieted me. I find I have very little to say to people, which is unusual for my big mouth. But now, standing naked at 46, tan and lean after a week of clean food and silence, I find myself standing across from a handsome young man I’d seen in passing all week, each of us too shy to muster anything past “hello.” Now we’re naked and showering alone above the cliffs. He is tall and tan, dark, curly hair, in his 20’s. I think to say something about the large, round mandala tattoo on his back, but this week of stillness has left me incapable of small talk. I mean to look up at him and gesture our connection, but I look down instead, pretending it doesn’t matter; this nakedness, this attraction, this moment. I pretend this sort of thing happens all the time. Pretend I don’t live three hours away with a husband and two daughters who I will return to tomorrow just in time to drive the gymnastics carpool and spend the rest of the week figuring out summer camps for them.

Through the water I see him looking at me, staring at my body. All I need to do is lift my head and meet his eye. But I don’t. I pretend I don’t see him. And then the moment passes and I dry off and I am back in my clothes and walking up the hill to something else, anything, doesn’t matter, something different that takes me away from the simple surrender of eyes meeting in a shower, naked. Two weeks later and all I can think about is how for one moment I might have looked up and simply met his eye.