Personal Development

Milkshakes

"Paper Tree Imitates Real Tree" © Theen Moy, 2014. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Paper Tree Imitates Real Tree” © Theen Moy, 2014. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

My yoga teacher gives instruction as if he is reciting poetry. He plays music and falls into rhythm with it, his voice adjusts in volume with the intensity of the pose. As we exhale into position, he gets louder. Brings the lights up a little bit, mimics the sunrise happening through the windows. The practice he guides us through feels like a steady drop of water on my spine. Slow and with purpose it etches away the previous day. The night of tossing and turning.

I make it a point to talk to him. To the other people in my class. While we change from our stretchy clothes into our work attire in the bathroom I strike up conversation. Make eye contact. We don’t need to bond or learn names. I just need to know that I’m noticed so I can remind myself if I don’t show up someone will feel my absence. Keep creating new places you matter. That’s the trick. That’s all it is.

When I was a teenager my idea of “sneaking out” was leaving a note for my parents on my desk and exiting through the front door. There were no tiptoes, just gentle motions to avoid waking those already asleep. A respect for their rest more than an intent of secrecy. If anyone went in to check on me they’d find something like:

George is having a bad night.
Went out for food.
Back soon. Love you!
—Ruby (1 AM)

on a Post-it® note. But I don’t know if anyone ever did. No one ever said.

It soon felt like I could float in and out of my home unnoticed. A gradual shift in temperature or humidity. Barely detectable among everything else that was happening under that roof. I found different places to matter.

George had driven up from Salem on accident. Another soul who understands that when nothing makes sense you pick a direction on Interstate 5 and you just go. We talked on the phone for most of the drive. When he finally said, “Okay, I’m here,” I had my coat and shoes on before he could add, “Come out.”

He didn’t pull into the driveway. I walked out into the quiet, country road night and folded myself into the passenger’s seat of his Toyota Tercel. We drove another thirty minutes north to the set of diner’s open twenty-four hours. The age-old debate between Denny’s and Shari’s ensued and we settled on the place with the better shakes.

Chocolate for me. Strawberry-banana for him. I likely ordered stuffed hash-browns (no bacon) and he definitely got a veggie omelette. We talked about music, about school, about relationships. We did not touch on how hard existing is. Sometimes you just need someone to sit at a table with. To notice you’re present. To witness your heart still beating hard in your chest.

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