First, that scooter he bought to ride around with June. Then showing off at beach yoga. Anyone could have predicted what would come next.
Facebook posts. Many. Of his kid and his wife, at the volcano and the waterfall…OMG, JUNE IS SNORKELING!
Worst of all, selfies from the golf course.
The only pics left in the camera were of food. Sure, you could have tasted that brick of flaming marshmallow flanked by banana ice cream and an elegant pile of graham cracker crumbs right through the video. But he had to maintain a shadow of his fiction. That cool reserve.
Back home dudes shame him with handstands on the way down to chaturanga. On the beach he’s the only one jumping up to complete the vinyasas.
So he becomes that guy, rising unbidden from bridge into full wheel and doing a sweet, solitary shoulder stand before savasana.
After class he presents, sweaty and sandy, for an attaboy.
But teacher Whipple congratulates himself. “Dude you’re here without your wife? I’m super impressed! I converted you to yoga!”
Denied his dose of praise, McCormick smiles and nods and walks into the waves, which are cool and soothing, just like the day before.
Their visit to the funky Northwest recalls the disappointment of his beloved alma mater almost making him faculty when he finished his Ph.D.
But if he’d gotten that job, and not stayed in New York and found Julie again, where would the life force that is their daughter have manifested?
In the Peconic Bay mansion of a German fund manager Julie met at a private equity conference? Crammed into a two-bedroom bungalow with McCormick and a grad student who dropped out when she got pregnant?
No. Those are stories. Really, without this overcast day, June wouldn’t be anywhere.
(He’s recalling therapeutic passages that led to the moment at hand...)
Elaine Southard was recommended to McCormick and Gwen (his partner of twenty years) by Sal Bergen, McCormick’s analyst.
Sal and McCormick’s signal exchange had been punctuated by Bergen gasping, dropping his shaved head into his hands, and saying “The self-deception is just breathtaking.”
That inextinguishable memory lit up when Southard, describing her own divorce, said “marriage can be an arena of sublime self-delusion.”
At his next session with Sal, whom he loved, McCormick said, “You sent me to your ex-wife for marriage counseling.”
Sal flinched, and the sadness in his eyes was something they could not help each other process.
(The Guru’s picture on his bookcase has Julie on Weirdo Alert.)
McCormick, shook, calculates.
Blending with Lakshmimani’s voice during Namaskirtana makes him One with God for sure. But that bald guy keeps saying he’s loud and flat when everyone else says he sounds great.
He’s seen the Blue Pearl, a rare spiritual gift. He’s also been scolded for letting his feet point toward the empty chair in front of the hall.
Is the Guru hovering above his Crown chakra, or is she the woman upstate who poses for the puja pictures and book jackets?
Turning back his way, Julie manages a smile. Heart restored.
Of course he will dismantle the shrine.
(a positive home-pregnancy test makes McCormick think back on how they got here…)
After twelve years of Julie on Wall Street and him teaching upstate, Digi-Match’s algorithm wanted them back together.
Eastern practice must have suggested connection. She frequented a Gramercy studio where celebrities learned headstands. He was a Sangam Yoga devotee searching for Inner Self.
On their third date, McCormick assumed his Ashramishly ordered apartment would advertise great worth
Julie liked the single sunflower in its green glass vase, and really liked the high-end kitchen appliances. But a big picture of the Guru, a young Indian woman wrapped in an orange shawl, whose eyes gathered and pierced? No, that she didn’t like.
(McCormick and Julie adjust to Dr. Serlek’s opinion that they have less than a 5% chance of conceiving on their own.)
In the days after the appointment, they Googled. McCormick read In Vitro Health Outcomes, fearing the karmic cost of science’s assistance. Julie bookmarked adoption sites and made calendars showing where their careers and income would be in two years, or seven. They touched their laptops more than each other. Not what McCormick had intended when he’d suggested leaving this up to nature.
Had they kept a chart of basal body temperature and cervical mucus, he would have known, that morning Julie cased herself in lycra and tied back her hair, to be ready when she returned, sweaty from the gym.