She brought me comfort immediately for a reason I can’t explain. As a general rule, I find the expected to be comforting and she was nothing like I was expecting. Goes to show what I know.
I am early that day and I sit with twitchy feet in the room where “Buddha Bar Radio” plays on an endless loop, a soundtrack of mockery. I take my third handful of lavender hand sanitizer and slide the thin rug back and forth across the hardwood floor when I hear her emerge from her office. I’m startled and I don’t imagine I hide it well.
She crosses the room to put her lunch bag back in the communal kitchen. We say hello and both chuckle awkwardly; this is not how we usually meet. She wasn’t expecting to see me yet and I most certainly was not expecting her to be the type of person who eats lunch. We’re both highly sensitive creatures, so we feel this disruption of rhythm and we feel the other’s noticing of the disruption as well. It’s hilarious and brutal, as most things are.
I watch her unpack the contents of her soft-sided Igloo. It’s probably all Vegan, definitely none of that processed shit.
Two minutes later, she calls me back in the way we had both planned. Thank you, God.
I follow her like a puppy dog finally being let indoors by the gentle, warm neighbors. I sit cross-legged on the couch like always. My feet don’t quite reach the floor and it’s the way I feel most myself anyway. That seems important here, so I’ve stopped apologizing for not keeping my shoes on the ground where they belong.
I watch her fingers go back and forth and focus intensely on my breath. “Where do you feel it in your body?” I’m drawn in by the movement, the intensity of the memories, noticing what comes up, “simply observing it as if we’re on a train and we’re watching it pass out the window.” Back and forth, back and forth. The breath, the noticing, the train, back and forth.
I’m in this supposedly meaningful trance when I hear it, that undeniable sound of stomach. It’s not mine, and for this reason specifically I make a mental note to write a gratitude list tonight and put this moment at the very very top. I return to my breath and watching her fingers, but then… it’s back “raaaaaaawwwwwrrrgggghhhhheeeeeeee”. It’s not hunger, it’s not a gastrointestinal emergency, but maybe that pre-gas sound? That’s my best guess. I’m grateful to be wearing a mask, my secret weapon that hides the side of my smile start to emerge, my oldest tell. I watch with fascination as she exists in this moment between apology, embarrassment, and ensuring that the show must go on. This is the best movie I’ve seen all year.
The show does, in fact, go on but it’s not quite the same. I’m not engrossed in the memory and the fingers are more like windshield wipers than the object of my laser focus. My breath is there and it matters, but I’m a sleepy passenger on the train. I’m captivated by something so much more important. I want to jump up and hug her but even I understand that this isn’t the way these things are done. I imagine myself bursting into hysterics, laughter or tears. Who can tell these days? I imagine myself as a modest elderly woman raising a tiny, shaky finger to my lips and saying “oopsies, honey, your humanity is showing.” Though it takes the strength of a million warriors, I do none of these things.
Instead, I play along in this skit to the best of my ability like a grown up person and the session ends. All the finger movement, all the memories, all the noticing – it’s supposed to make me feel shaken and raw, she warns me about this.
Instead, I leave lighter than I’ve felt in months, with a pep in my step. I have a new stamp in my passport and that always makes me feel like I can fly. Things are different now because this majestic creature and I, we’re the same.
It was the day I realized we’re all just rushing home to unload our dishwashers.