The Man Who’s Seen You Practicing Yoga

This is a post I wrote about 4 years ago, but can’t for the life of me remember where I published it, or if I ever published it. I’m not finding it indexed in Google, so, here it is now. 🙂

Snow in twilight swallows everything, a down blanket that smothers all it touches. There is a sense of stillness that insulates you from reality, dulls your senses until all you feel is the cold and all you hear is the silence, anything else muffled by the snow around.

When the road you’re walking is black and the world about you is swathed in white, it’s black and white photography come to life. You can be a 1940s starlet, gliding down the road with a song slipping wantonly from your lips. You can, or you could, except that you can’t imagine much when a man appears and drives your attention back to reality.

Hello, he says, how about this weather? Dispensing with pleasantries. Hi, you say, it’s not as cold as it was yesterday, I had to get some fresh air. Feeling cooped up. And he shrugs strangely. Soon he begins to tell stories, details, outlines his life and then fills in the gaps between bullet points.

And you engage him, because for some strange reason, in this dead silver and grey landscape someone with color, something with a heartbeat and blood in its veins and condensation on its breath is alluring. So you answer questions. I finished college, the sticker on the car is my sister’s alma mater. I’m between jobs. I’ve lived here all my life.

You’re talking just because you can, and so is he, and you’re achieving your initial goal, which was to get fresh air. But it goes on a bit too long, because he seems lonely, and because at heart you’re lonely too. You live in the mansion, he says. You’re the one who does yoga.

Yes, you say, nodding profusely, like a bobble head doll, because now you know you’ve been seen, you’re no longer an anonymous stranger. Anonymity is your friend and without it, you start to feel very small, as if the street will swallow you up. It’s a quiet street, no-one could scarcely hear you scream, except the man who’s seen you practicing yoga.

You’ve probably seen me walking by, he says, I didn’t have a car until now. You look like you’re thinking, but you’re not actually trying to access your memory. It’s possible I saw you… He interrupts, I certainly saw you.

Slight pause. The wind is coming off the water now, and icicles on small branches are trembling and tinkling. Not that I’ve been spying on you, he quickly adds. You laugh, somewhat awkwardly. Deflect the subject with another round of conversation about jobs. If you had a job you know you wouldn’t be there in that moment, with a man twice your age who’s trying a little too hard to make friends. But you also wouldn’t be there to feel the snow start again, just a fine mist of snow, so utterly refreshing. And the landscape grows even quieter as the snow begins to fall.

Time to go. You walk away, further along the slowly darkening street, tugging your scarf up around your face to protect against the chill. You think, because thinking is what you do best. You remember then, when you were on your back in corpse position, a man from the road saying hey lady, hey lady, almost a chant. Trying to get your attention. You opened your eyes a crack but the sun crowded out your view. He could have had a mustache. He could have been about twice your age. You remember distinctly, at the time, hearing the chanting hey lady, hey lady, and the rustle of a male figure nearby as you were stretched out on the lawn near a little copse. You remember thinking if you’re going to kill me, kill me now, while I’m already in Savasana.

You turn for home. The world grows even more gray and silver, until it looks half embossed, the rest white like cotton evenly coating every stationary thing in sight. You grow even more gray, you grow out of time and place, and let yourself be that 1940s starlet with a wanton song and a graceful stride, the envy of every woman. It wasn’t the starlet he wanted that summer day, when the world was equally dulled by the haze of sun and meditation.

You pass by, he is gone. At home, you pause to reflect. He seemed lonely, you think. Awkward and lonely, poor soul. Just in case, you lock the door behind you.