A shoulder tap. The teacher in remarkably thin linen, gently observing that his head should point to the center, not the wall. This, even fifty-two years into the project, could create several seconds of shame.
Today he laughs, swivels on the mat, deliberately brushing Julie’s arm, and receives the soothing suggestions.
Connect to a heartfelt desire…
(That we take the peace of this class home to our daughter.)
Move awareness through your body..
(Oh wow. My shoulder feels better!)
Witness your thoughts…
(I’m sorry I’m even in that book. That last line is embarrassing. Writing makes me unhappy. Please, stop.)
When McCormick, during guided meditation, hears “Direct gentle attention to any areas of discomfort,” he opens his eyes to sneak a peek.
Bruce Blend is a cool looking cat. Tweed jacket over jeans that aren’t skinny or, on the other hand, just a pair of denim slacks. Sharp-edged goatee that says, this face belongs to a dude whose shit is together.
Blend is the best looking shrink he’s seen, excepting Elaine Southard, whose jeans were tight. Whose brown boots gleamed.
Once McCormick told Dr. Southard that human love should include adoration. And she said, “Maybe you just want a puppy.”
(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.
(Julie and McCormick complete a mercifully short fertility odyssey…)
Yes, they did the wild thing. Ok, not wild, but satisfying. The demons were chased.
“You knew it was today!” she said, consulting her phone, in the after.
Her appreciation made him feel large, in the after.
Ten days later he is laying out meditation mats when she brings him the stick.
“I think…is this.. a plus sign?”
“Intersecting vertical and horizontal lines? Yeah, we call that a plus sign.”
Julie makes a big-eyes face. McCormick, already looking within, sees an elevator descend from his crown to his base and open its doors.
A new life.
He walks right through.
(After a disappointing meditation session, McCormick wonders how he’ll fill the time until Julie and June come home…)
Refreshing Camp Rampart’s website would eat some minutes. Oh yes! A video shows Juney smacking a wiffle ball, then rounding the bases like someone is chasing her. Later she’s on the Rama Theater stage, arms folded, refusing to comply with a ringleted pediatric acting coach. June moves, like him, from spotlight to shadow. Not like her mother, the Queen of Red Ribbons, who proudly remembers entering every contest at church camp. To try or not to try? Such a hard question. Maybe nothing can be gained by leaving the apartment for an hour, but he’s still going to do it.
When McCormick first saw The Blue Pearl the shock of fortune disabled him. It had only been a month since he’d received, for five-hundred dollars, the Guru’s initiating touch. And yes he’d cleaned the ashram bathrooms every week. And yes he’d felt his burdens lift in the quiet, incense-soaked mediation hall. But that glowing azure seed was meant to be the culmination of lifetimes.
So when it burst in that day, McCormick, though breathless with bliss, did not board the ship for distant worlds that undeniably had come. Instead he opened his eyes and looked around, at everyone else.
Julie settles the Camp Rampart tank on June’s brown shoulders. Good she didn’t choose the red side. June wouldn’t tolerate that even for her mother.
McCormick offered the garment yesterday. June said, “Um, that’s a boy shirt?”
Julie twisting a French braid. Most mornings she leaves by 7 to prepare for the Hong Kong call, and McCormick gives June a nice tight ponytail.
He hopes nothing is wrong in Hong Kong, wonders why June is inspecting the big toe she’s lifted to her face, and plans later to close his eyes, find the Blue Pearl, and travel to many planets.
(McCormick remembers his first date with his wife…)
She filled two glasses and recalled pursuing the ‘Who Am I?’ Koan in the Jersey hills with Ye Je Kang.
He does not like red wine, and this was not the last time envy would color his appreciation of Julie So.
She said, “I felt so close …”
At Omega with the other common students, he’d managed only Teacher and writer are my craft and ambition, but Who Am I? and felt proud when YJK nodded at the progress.
Now he’s The one who stays home while Julie earns and June learns. How to be more or less than that?