Friday, June 18, 2010
A Surprise Ending
I'm sitting at a table next to Walt, toward the front of the room, half watching the cooking demonstration on the stage and half scanning behind me for familiar faces. I'm not big on parties, but want to support the owner of the yoga studio where I practice as she celebrates seven years of service. Besides, I'm curious about what my fellow practitioners look like in clothes and not drenched in sweat.
The room is full, the energy light and open. Booths for vitamins and acupuncture and flower essences and massage and the studio itself form a corral for the milling crowd. Wine is offered from one table while gourmet vegetarian/gluten free food is displayed beautifully on another. One of the teachers is going to play his guitar for us, a fellow student is going to sing. The husband of another student will round out the evening with some jazz piano tunes. The owner buzzes around handing out T-shirts and making sure everyone is happy.
I spot her right away, recognizing the reddish bob and glasses, surprised she came. Dressed completely in black, she stands next to a man I assume is her husband, smiling around the room, not talking to anyone, but looking glad to be here. Late woman. Diana. My teacher.
The idea forms gradually, but before long I know I'm going to go talk to her. After all she taught me all those weeks ago, I've rarely noticed her in class, and there's never been a chance to talk after class. I sort of hope she'll notice me now and start the conversation, but she doesn't seem inclined to leave her spot at the back of the room.
The minute the cooking demonstration ends, I ask Walt if he wants to join me (he declines), then make a beeline for Diana. I'm so excited to find out what she remembers, to maybe joke a little about meeting in a yoga class after all these years. I'm feeling proud of myself for having achieved this place of curiosity and friendliness with someone I wanted to smack not so long ago.
"Hi Diana. It's so nice to see you again. I've been wanting to say hi in class, but there never seems to be time."
"Oh, hi. I'd like you to meet my husband, Steve."
Steve and I shake hands, say our nice-to-meet-yous, and I turn back to Diana.
"It's been a long time," I say, giving her the perfect opening.
With a puzzled smile, she tips her head slightly, looks at me and says, "And who are you?"
It's all I can do to not laugh out loud and to stay in this conversation. She doesn't have a clue who I am. Has not known who I am all these months. Feels no connection to me whatsoever.
When I tell her my name, her husband says, "From Riverview?" He knows who I am. Remembers. Connects. And I don't think I ever met him before.
We chat for a bit longer. I ask about their son and learn he still struggles in school. She answers questions but asks none in return, smiling and receptive, offering nothing.
As I make my way back to the table, I marvel at how fluid a thing reality is. Diana came into my life at a perfect time and taught me one of the most powerful lessons I've learned in a very long time. I created a story about her that made sense, and that allowed me to find my way to the center of the learning. But it was just that - a story. As plausible as any story, more than many, yet so very far from the reality of this tiny woman with a delightful laugh, who accepted my interest and presence in that moment, but for whom I could have been anyone or no one.
Picture titled "Shining New Light On Old Ghosts" by Sarah Gardner, from Flickr