I went away for a week last month, north and north and farther north. I took a plane and then a train and then the venerable Sixty of Sixty's Place met me at the station and delivered me the last leg of my journey, into the mountains.
Sixty is not sixty and he does not have hair growing out of his ears, so I lose a bet with myself and must now buy myself dinner. Indeed, he is charming and witty and literate, as any reader of his blog might expect him to be. He is also sweet, which one might not expect. And, I suspect, sensitive, though I didn't get a chance to pinch him, so I can't say for sure.
A scheme had been floated to have lunch at Sixty's beloved Club M. and take a tour of the local beauties there, but at the last minute we didn't go. I think he got shy on me. We also didn't go panty-shopping at the outlet mall. Instead we spent a couple of hours of a perfect, golden afternoon drinking wine in the bar of an empty restaurant.
He dropped me off at the yoga institute, where I spent the first day being cynical and exasperated, and the second day alternately crying my eyes out -- the good kind -- and sweating my ass off in the darkness of the cedar-scented sauna, til all the water drained out of me and I was empty as a shell.
It was good. Then I went around writing down interesting things people said in a notebook, which I lost on the train home.
I remember writing down: Cultivate the space between thoughts.
And: Brahman, Vishnu, Shiva: create, sustain, destroy.
And: Resist the urge to make life a story. Life is not a story.
And: Learn to discriminate purusha from prakrti. You are not your possessions. Your are not your name. Your are not your body. Your are not your recollections of the past or your fantasies of the future. You are not your discomfort or your disease. You are not your impulses or your lusts. These things are ripples on a pond. You are.
I'm sorry I lost my notebook. I think there were other good things in there. Hopefully they made some impression on me somewhere.
In the train station, waiting: two women in the bathroom, standing by the sink.
"I didn't know you were J.R.'s girlfriend," says the one with the sunglasses and the full-sleeve tattoos. "I used to get all my shit from J.R. But he don't return my calls no more."
"He got a new phone," says the tall girl with the pink bandana. "You should call him again."
"Yeah, cause I been getting all my stuff from Donald. And, you know -- rip-off."
"Yeah. Did you know he got robbed? Him and his girlfriend. All their stuff, and their money, and their T.V. It was somebody that knew them, too."
"Now, that is just messed up."
"Yeah, but you know we all been there. I know I've been, just, going crazy thinking, what am I going to do, cause I've got to have my medication, and I don't know what I'd do for it."
The world goes on singing a song that sounds an awful lot like a story sometimes. The train is late and we all sit outside on the curb by the tracks in the early spring afternoon light, like a row of blackbirds. Finally it comes.
I love the way trains slice through the landscape like a slow knife through butter. Trains go behind the backs of things. We see the hidden faces of the towns, the backs of people's houses, where the trash cans are. We pass a prison yard with razor wire.
We go through woods that are barely beginning to green, the first hint of buds on trees looks like a layer of frost. Locals tell me it's been a slow spring. I miss slow springs. In Texas, spring comes so fast. On Sunday you see little bright green buds, and by Friday they are full-blown leaves. If you have a deadline the week that spring comes, you can miss it.
For a while, we run neck-and-neck with a little river. It is not a sunny day, but the water is full of lights. I try to see these things like I have never seen anything before. I try to cultivate the space between thoughts. I try not to make a story. I feel alive, a little more than when I left home, and that's a lot.