The Body Never Lies

She didn’t move a muscle. She didn’t twitch, shift or blink. She remained absolutely statuesque, allowing her body to accumulate a sheath of dust and grime that gave her an otherworldly appeal.

“Excuse me!” I yelled for a second time from my weathered black Subaru, “are you okay?”

Nothing. She remained unperturbed, seemingly content to stand in the middle of the desert with nothing other than her studded purse and turquoise necklace to accompany her.

“If you need a ride, get in!” I bellow over the wind. “I’m happy to take you to the next town to get whatever you need.”

She remained motionless until her eyes caught a frenetic lizard scurrying over her cowboy boots. Her head, as if in stop motion, followed its trail under a thick sage brush before panning upwards.

Suddenly, her eyes snap into focus, her shoulders slump and she hits the ground in a feeble ball of unconsciousness.

“SHIT!”

I try to open the door, but can’t. It’s locked, and my brain has switched to fight or flight mode, totally incapable of sorting a simple task like flipping a switch.

I squirm my way through the open window and run to her side. Her body remains limp. Only her pink paisley dress ripples gently over her legs in the suffocating breeze.

Pulling her long, sweaty hair to the side, I place my fingers gently on her neck and wait. Her pulse throbs in gentle waves, but her mind has drifted off. She’s jumped ship, leaving me in the middle of the desert with a comatose body, a handful of cacti and no way to get help.

The story ebbs and flows over the next several hours as a passing truck of migrant workers calls in for help; emergency personal revive her in the back of a rusty ambulance with an IV drip; and she, as if nothing happened, kindly excuses herself from the gurney to once again, stand on the side of the road.

“What are you doing?!” I ask with a hint of attitude and confusion. “You just passed out from dehydration, and your grand plan is to repeat the experience?!”

Staring off into the distance, she responds, “I know you’re concerned, and thank you, but I need to wait for her here. I know she’s coming back.” Tying her hair in a bun, she places her leather bag over her shoulder and resumes her statuesque position.

I left that day dumbfounded. How could she feel so connected to an individual, and so viscerally bound to a decision, that she’d ride out the consequences as they came? How could anyone put their “gut feeling” over logic?!

20 years on and I’m no wiser than I was before. What I do know is that my judgement of her has toned down considerably, as I too have chosen — time and time again — based on a feeling, a sensation, a visceral connection so profound that I’m drawn like a fly to a flame.

Mind you, these “gut” decisions can be as banal as choosing steak over risotto, or as profound as uprooting your life to a new city, the constant is knowing yourself well enough to recognize what “that feeling” is, and more importantly, how to trust it.

Communication is more than the whisperings between people, or the words flaunted across billboards and text links; it’s the subtle signs, feelings and emotions guiding you everyday.

Photo by Riccardo Romano

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