I am not your senorita
I am not from your tribe
In the garden I did no crime
– Tori Amos
I could never figure out why some people get it and some do not. And what I mean by “get” “it” is get the point. The crux. The inner singularity wherein all that we are converges into a single, simple beauty from which everything grows. Our bodies, our minds, the air, the earth, light, stars, souls. All things of us and not of us though still somehow part of us. I should add here that getting it does not mean having an intellectual understanding or quantitative perception of it. It is a palpable thing, this feeling of connection, of having a place, but it is not knowable as we hope to know the solution to some terribly complex equation. Unless of course the theoretical physicists turn out to be right and they end up reducing everything down to one simple mathematical expression like forty two.
“Yes, Maralee, honey?”
“Would you like to come home with me now?”
For a moment his face seems almost frightened. Then he says, in a softer voice, “I sure would.”
She takes his fingers briefly in hers, elbows on the counter, pencil tucked behind her ear, and though he doesn’t realize it, it‘s the faint smell of orange blossom rising from somewhere under her blouse that starts him thinking about his grandmother’s garden.
He was twelve, sitting under that perfect orange tree with his knees pulled up under his chin, watching some ants negotiating a caterpillar into their hill. It was utterly fascinating. They were so small. He could have obliterated the whole scene simply by standing up and kicking the hill with his new, summer sneaker. And yet they were wholly unaware of his presence let alone the potential threat he presented. He could stand up and walk away and their world would be completely unaffected. There would be neither sigh of relief nor sadness to see him go. He was a non-entity. It had given him an almost pristine sense of security, to be nothing like that.
“Finish your coffee, Donny. I’m just going to go wash my hands, okay?”
He looks down into his coffee cup. “Okay.”
As he waits, listening to the low, scattered sounds of other people eating and conversing, he begins to wonder just what exactly his sweet little waitress is doing inviting him home. It isn’t that he thinks he’s repulsive or anything like that. It‘s just that he never had even the slightest inkling she was interested. Women are not generally interested in him, so when one does look at him with that kind of evening in her eyes, it feels as if the top of his head might fly off. Maybe it’s more that Maralee is nothing like the women who have looked at him that way. Maybe he just didn’t expect it. Suddenly his mouth is very dry.
“You didn’t finish your coffee,” she says with childlike solemnity. She’s come around behind him and now eases herself on to the stool next to his. “Do you need a warm-up? I could wait.”
His eyes drop briefly to her breasts. He can’t help it. They just move the way men’s eyes do and before he can look up again he has time to be deeply embarrassed. His gaze skitters away from hers. “No. S’okay. I’m not thirsty.”
She puts a hand on his shoulder as she moves off the stool again and her head dips close to his ear. He hears a little smile in her voice. “Liar,” she says.