Off edges

She did not pause – ever. She kept going to the brink, even after I left. And when he left her, she no longer paused before agreeing to fall.

Celine became my roommate when I decided to leave my life and my job in New York. It was an incautious decision of mine, to throw away my life and restart it. But this urge ate away at me, burrowing in with each subway trip, each uninspired grind. And so I called her (Celine) and asked her to take over my job, my apartment. She became my roommate.

When she moved in, her presence interrogated my life. The city made me reclusive, and I saw it when she went out. And when she came back crying around three am, I knew I was calm. I made her tea. And then I moved out, and she took over my lease because she’d taken my job, and then a bigger job, in the city.

I left and started graduate school. I became competitive and voracious. And it ate into my relationships again, but ambition allowed it.

I knew Celine was in love. She would invite me to parties while I was a thousand miles away. I saw her smiling with her partner and I smiled for the both of them. We agreed we felt fond of one another, and of our oppositeness. And then I saw her relationship fall apart through her sudden silence. Through the photos of her alone, of her at home instead of New York.

She told me that she had bottomed out. And my heart broke for her, my dear friend. But I don’t know how to calm her down from a thousand miles away. She knows the dimensions of my life, the dirt in the corners. But I can’t see through the smallness of my life.

I am, alternately, in a rage at her, for being irresponsible. I am like a parent, yelling at a child who wandered into the road. Raging at my lack of control.

Or, I convince myself that I am not necessary. While I celebrate her ability to heal herself, I conspire with the hard world by failing to respond.

What can I say to an experience I don’t know?

Humility and what I don’t own

My best friend is from Bangalore, India. We met at college orientation. During one of the countless talks on women’s liberation and globalization, I saw her lip curl for the first time, gently at one side. Later I knew the curl was her response to anglicized pronunciations and naïve solutions to the third world.

She taught me that ‘buddhism’ is pronounced buthd-hism and not bood-ism, watched Buffy with me and movies with Aishwarya Rai, and combed oil through my hair. We were always watching explosions, dramatic or literal, in her attic dorm room above a bookstore.

When I go to yoga, or meditate, I feel my lip curling too, as if I weren’t part of this white washing because I am in sympathy with my friend. But my friend is more generous. She does not roll her eyes at shirts with ‘namaste’ on them, and she says growth and spirit can come in anyway. She is beyond judgment of white men with buns in flowing kurtas, and I am not.

But my judgment does break down. Today, at the end of a difficult class, our yoga teacher told us her practice was driven by the beauty of the universe, that she saw the beauty of the universe in human exertion. I felt or intuited truth. My thoughts about how the teachers gossip before class, rolling their eyes at some inconvenience, folded in on themselves. It did not matter that they gossiped because their insight was in spite of it. How humbling that they live a divinity beyond me.

Decisions in Rain

Since I moved to the desert, I fantasize about rain. I imagine the coolness on my face, the way the water runs with abandon down any exposed limb, how it feels like gravity flexed as a muscle.

A neat child, I hated the rain. It damped my fashion, it interrupted play. Days incubated in the rain. But it left a peculiar New England scent of pine and damp dirt, and the pine rose again above our heads – an intoxicating crown.

When you stare up into the falling rain the drops that are closest are magnified and you know you are always underwater. In adolescence in America they ask you to choose your life and you are sorted into a college by a few words and a test score. On the cusp of this, in fear of it, I stayed out in the rain. I imagined the military and myself in martial order, and in academia taxonomized. But my vision was poor in the rain. I felt myself undivided from it. I stayed out, and all around me it fell.