They told me to be there at 6. In the morning. Not one to disappoint if I can help it, I showed up at 6. Well, 6:13. Close enough. The teacher was unlocking the door as we walked up. We as in me and a Russian language teacher’s husband/my personal music teacher/self-proclaimed surrogate father who invites me over so that he can play his keyboard as I sing one of two Mongolian songs that I know. We’re practically blood.
He tells me that the meditation teacher in town wants to meet me at 6 o’clock. In the morning. Thoroughly confused and completely used to the feeling, I set my alarm clock. I get up, make a fire that I hope will last until I return, and head out, accompanied by my watchful and loyal dog. It’s dark outside. No one else is around. It’s cold. And I’m wearing a borrowed coat from my manager while she washes mine. The coat she let me borrow doesn’t unzip at the bottom when trying to get out of it yet ironically unzips starting at the bottom when it’s zipped to the top. The hood is hanging by another zipper that refuses to do what it’s supposed to (i.e. zip), so I have a furry-pet-thing hanging over my shoulder as I walk with one hand in a pocket and the other dangling because that side’s pocket’s zipper won’t unzip. It lost its zipper-pully-thing. Of course.
I make it to my musician father’s home with my dog, and the three of us head toward the meditation (called Ricki) center (i.e. a room with bed sheets on the floor in an otherwise unused building with a camel statue out front). Six women join us. There is no indication that the teacher wanted to meet with me specifically. But it’s her birthday, so I decide to wait. We start with yoga. I can do this, I think. But soon more women show up, the room gets more cramped, the sun starts to rise, and we move to meditation. My Russian dad leaves.
Here I am, sitting in the corner on a white bed sheet in a room full of women I’ve never met before who are closing their eyes and touching their bodies. One woman’s hands are in her pants. Are mine supposed to be there? The woman next to her is so into it the whites of her eyes are showing in spite of her attempt at closing her lids, and I’m more concerned about what’s going on there than with Wandering Hands next to her.
I can’t stop moving. My eyes probably shouldn’t even be open, but my focus has shattered. My back starts to hurt. My arms hurt from holding them in one position (cupping my ears like earmuffs) for so long, so I bend my knee and rest my elbows on it. That merits a look from the teacher who tells me with her eyes to put my knee down. I do as she says. But then my arms hurt again. And my back. And I find other parts of me (i.e. my feet) still moving to ease the tension. I feel like the worst meditation student ever. But I didn’t sign up for this!
We’re still sitting. We’re still cupping parts of our bodies, our hands slowly moving southward. Now everyone’s hands are in their pants, or at least outside of them in a very southern region. At least my arms don’t hurt anymore. But everyone else is so still. I’d say quiet, except for the Ricki theme song playing on the tape player in the background. On repeat.
I occasionally get flashes of being in a Wal-Mart. Maybe it’s the plastic rose on the window sill. I try not to focus on it too much. All I know is, more women keep appearing, and the woman to my right has her foot on my knee while the one to my left is almost playing footsie with me. I’ve lost all track of time. How long have we been sitting here? What are we even supposed to be doing?
Eventually it’s over. It’s 9:15. In the morning. I wait around, expecting some explanation of why I was forcibly dragged to this place for the past 3 hours. Not even a look my way. So I go into the hall to put on my boots and step into the functionless-zipper-borrowed-coat as Wandering Hands knocks into me a bazillion times as she unsuccessfully does whatever it is she’s trying to do (which can not be as difficult as my standing on one foot to put on a boot). And when I look in to say goodbye (hint hint), I get a thank you and a see you later and a please come to join us in the morning, understand?
That’s it? That’s why I had to wake up at 5:15 (in the morning) and walk the entire way in the dark and in the cold in a borrowed coat that won’t zip properly with my only companion as a dog that makes friends with anything that breathes to meet up with the person who invited me in the first place who then leaves early and leaves me alone with strangers for the remaining 2 hours?
When I get home, I find the fire completely dead and my ger cold. My back hurts. The day would normally just be starting, but instead I feel like it should be over. I just want to sleep.
There’s always something to learn. The teacher is good at this sort of thing; she’s fit; she loves her students. Her students, even the ones who showed up 2 1/2 hours late (how does that happen?), are enthusiastic and willing to participate in this ever-so-difficult practice. They are yearning for something. Something pulled them to that room that early in the morning that is very different than the something that pulled me. I know that much.
Honestly, I don’t want to go back. I prefer my morning routine, alone, in my ger, on my own time. But I also don’t want to write it off, what they do. Maybe our energies could merge in the future. Maybe we have something to offer each other after all.
As long as it has nothing to do with Wal-Mart.