Wednesday, 01 March 2017
I am hosting one guest: Cara. And she has invited two more: Nora and Adrian. They’ve come to visit me at grandmother’s old ranch, which I retreat to sometimes. Tucked away in the hills, forgotten by time.
Springtime has come already, but this evening the fog has rolled in. It is so thick I can’t see past the balcony. We’re sitting by the fire. They’ve just arrived. The power is out, so the flames flicker over our faces. For dinner, we’re sipping lentil soup.
Transition from conversation to sleep happens gracefully. Piled up blankets get spread on the floor and on couches. One by one they drift off. Until I alone am awake, tending the fire, asking it lonely questions.
Hardly dawn, the rooster crows and conversation slowly begins to stir again. Nora tells us about the trip she is planning. She is going to a special place, far away; a place that both Cara and I have both lived and loved, seperately.
At just eighteen, Nora has wide-eyed eagerness to hear stories. She’s relentless with her questions. She wants to hear every detail, every memory. “And then what?”
Time is no object to us. With nothing else to do, she gradually pries and coaxes the whole story out of me. While I’m talking, the sun is slowly rising, melting fog into mist, mist hinting at a blue beyond.
I notice Cara looking at me. She hasn’t looked at me that way in a long time. Is it the story? I wonder if it reminds her…
No, she’s here with Adrian. Shake the thought.
Grandmother is outside tending to the garden. I get up and go to her, leaving the others to breakfast.
She’s pulling weeds. As a kid, I’d avoid that chore. But now, it’s calming. In her aged presence, not long for this earth, rooted as a tree, it’s a strange contrast. Therein lies a koan: a rooted tree, uprooting weeds.
She rests on a bench, watches me continue the work. Even a few years ago, I don’t remember her ever resting. Touching to me to see this final admission of weakness.
How long passed? Felt like half an hour, but may have been only five minutes. I am suddenly aware that she has come outside, joined us, and sat next to grandmother on the bench. Still crouched in the garden, I turn slightly to look back over my shoulder. There they are, side by side, looking directly at each other, for a moment, gazing into each other’s eyes: old meets young, grace meets grace. Cara puts her arm around grandmother, gently. I’m smitten.
Nothing prepared me for this. Cara starts speaking to grandmother, but not in English. In Farsi.
Time slows down. I skip a beat. I reach for ground to balance. What? How can this be? Cara does not speak this ancient language. I would have known. She would have mentioned. How can this have escaped me? How can this be happening, before my eyes?
I myself don’t speak Farsi. So I can only discern fragments from their conversation. It goes on and on. They speak to each other in soft, tender tones. I can only guess at it. Its full meaning is beyond me, but they seem to know, to exactly know. As if they had both secretly been waiting, perhaps their whole lives, for this encounter. A moment of the soul was passing. An intersection, a meeting at one of life’s great moments. A transfer of power, wisdom and awareness. Magic gifted from a great heart leaving to a great heart coming; an inheritance of responsibility and love.
Drawn out to its final measure, the conversation ends. Tears well up in both of their eyes. I witness the softest, most sensitive of embraces. Grandmother kisses her like a daughter. She stands up and leaves.
It has the force of a goodbye. Not the final goodbye. But a penultimate goodbye. The one where you know that the fated farewell is near, to a departure you had long expected, but hadn’t expected so abruptly.
I ache watching this sacred ritual. I feel like I have no part to play in it. My hands are full of dirt. I too have tears, but mine are less controlled, and I don’t know what they are for.
I am still stunned. I cannot believe these two angels revealed themselves to each other in such naked glory; that they were known to each other, as if by their presence, they knew before speaking, the shared identity, destiny. I could not believe they spoke the same language, in spirit.
Cara turns to look at me. Straight at me. Her eyes hold me. I have never seen her look at me like that, not even all those years ago, when we were lovers once, and younger.
She stands, walks over to me, crouches down. She is on my level and she has still not broken contact. She is close and drawing closer. She kisses me. With a surrender I have never experienced in all my eyes.
She draws me up. Now we are standing. Now we are embracing passionately. I am so confused, but she leaves me no space to be confused. She is communicating something profound and I can barely take it in, but I am receiving as much as I can.
She breaks contact.
Shock. Trembling. Questions take a long time.
“Cara, what…? Why didn’t you tell me? What about him…?”
“I’ll explain,” she says.
She takes my hand and draws me to the balcony.
Beyond us lies a spectacular view on this glorious morning of arrival.
Hundreds of acres of trees, farmland and wilds spread before us, up to the first foothills of the mountain range, which stretches out along the eastern horizon.
I had always hoped to show her this place.
“This is not, actually, my first time here.”