Usually, we mediate alone in meditation class. That suits just me fine. It’s 9 a.m., after all, I’ve only had one coffee, have been awake all of twenty minutes.
But this time, we are told to sit in a circle and hold hands as we meditate.
I panic, briefly. For solace, my mind immediately turns to the croissant I plan to purchase afterwards, flaky buttery crescent-shaped morsels of heaven.
The teacher tells us we will chant in unison and in turn, while sitting and holding hands, for thirty minutes. This seems easy enough.
Should I make grilled pizza again for when The Gay Schoolteacher comes over for dinner tonight?
At first it’s fun, like kindergarten but without the Play Do. Hands hold one another firmly yet without intimacy. At first it’s all about ego. I worry that my solo chants are out of pitch.
But what kind of cheese? Taleggio, the way they do it at Libretto Pizzeria? Or goat cheese again?
Our voices become stronger and more in tune as we go around the circle. I notice how subtly we follow each person’s particular cadence or tuning as we repeat the chant after them.
I loved the salad I made yesterday for a picnic, local greens with orange tarragon dressing, maybe I’ll recreate it tonight.
But twenty minutes in, I feel the hand of the man next to me falter, while the hand of the woman on my left gets stronger, more resolute. Between breaths and chants, I review second wave feminist theory, channel Simone De Beauvoir.
Before we began the teacher said Under. No. Circumstances. Can. The Circle. Be. Broken.
I stop thinking about croissant. I have to concentrate now. Knees shoot tiny plumes of fire into thighs. Hands and chest grow damp. The phantom pain in my wrist blooms. Hold on, hold on.
A young woman forgets the chant, there is a moment of faltering silence. The guy next to me picks up the thread, he laughs, I giggle, then chant, the circle strengthens.
After it’s over, the woman next to me turns. I see her eyes, a pale brown. Congratulations she says to me.
I feel ripples of hot white energy in the room.
I walk slowly and blissfully to La Fromagerie. The proprieter and I discuss pizza cheeses in hushed tones. I purchase two croissant and some Wensleydale, at his recommendation.
The day spreads out, a clean sheet of paper, unfurled.