Zen and a Love Story

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By Anya Light

 

This is how we meet.

You are seated for Zazen. You wear a dark sweater and scarf.

We begin to bow. A handful of us. I don’t yet know this ritual, and so I find my eyes drawn to you, as you make the movements. You’re standing to my right, always two seconds ahead. You’re helping me see what to do.

I dip my head reverently. The wooden floor represents the Earth. I rise my palms. The little Buddha statue smiles.

Yes, I’m happy here now, in this quiet meditation hall. It’s evening in England. I don’t feel far from home.

 

A few days later, I have a terrible headache. I don’t want to read my book in the front of the crowd. I don’t want to face them.

Just ten minutes in the Zendo, I tell myself. Just ten minutes of meditation: that’s all I need. So, I rise from the bed, shuffle downstairs, and push open the wide wooden door.

It is you! You are there! You are already seated, on the old wooden floor. My heart is made of firecrackers. My heart is made of chocolate. I burn and I melt.

We smile and agree to sit together. At the end of ten minutes, you ring the bell. We start talking. It seems we’ve always talked.

A few minutes pass, and suddenly we remember that other people and clocks exist. We say we are reluctant to join them, but we do.

I read my book, and you sit in the corner, to my right. A black blanket wrapped around your shoulders. I feel you.

I’m supposed to be signing these books and making small talk. But I don’t want to.

So I find you.

Would you like to take a walk with me?

Suddenly, our coats. We are out in the open air.

Ten minutes later: May I kiss you?

Your mouth is dry and you laughingly complain. We look around. There’s so much, and suddenly. The moon is big and the river is near. It’s August, the end of summer. We stand in the market town of Hebden Bridge. I don’t live here, but you do. You show the way.

We walk. When we reach the bridge, we hold hands. I remember resting my head in your lap. Your hands upon my head… so gently, so gently.

I tell you I’m a healer, a shaman, that I walk between worlds. I tell you everything. No secrets are between us, already. We talk of magic.

We are walking back to the house only because we are both so thirsty. Our mouths and lips are shriveled. There are so many words; they keep coming, flowing, like the river. I have always loved your voice. At some point, you say something so profound and so resonant that I literally fall to the ground, cobblestones under my bottom. The world that I knew has ended. Done.

Back at the drafty old house, later, you kneel to write your number on a scrap of paper. Time has long ago stopped. You look up at me. I’m in the chair, close to you, legs crossed. You shake your head. You’re a confused, giddy child.

You say: I don’t know you, but I love you.

The next afternoon I’m on an airplane.

I realize that you can still hear me, so I call out your name, quietly, in my mind. I can hear you answer me.

I realize that this is a love story; we’re at the beginning.

There are letters, packages, emails. There are six-hour Skype calls.

There are times when the money is there and we can see each other in the flesh. There is orgasm, dance. Great joy. There’s forest, tea, campfire smoke. Whales leaping from water on islands. Times we can never write about.

It’s four years later, my darling, and we’re still writing our story. Remembering, polishing, yearning.

What comes next?

I can see you so clearly in my mind. Bowing. Back at the beginning. That wooden floor; that Buddha statue.

And my mind stops. It is only the heart that is left.

 

 

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