An anniversary and an encounter


looking at my CT scan last December with husband and Our Son the Radiologist

A year ago today I almost died in yoga class. Maybe that is why my back has been having severe spaz attacks for the past week, preventing me from going anywhere near yoga class. My health crisis last year had nothing to do with yoga but it is one of those association things. Like, I can never eat M&Ms since I got a terrible stomach upset, probably flu, after eating M&Ms as a kid.

Ah poor back, we have safely made it through the year with no more clots in the lungs so you can relax now.

It does feel better today, and I woke with a great dream this morning. I like this one a lot better than the rat dream I got on my birthday (which was, incidentally, about being kinder to my body).

A charismatic young man who is famous for his humanitarian work is featured in a grand convocation. His work, and perhaps mine as well, is to rescue people one by one. The image is of pulling people across a river with a cable strung from bank to bank. Among the crowds of people at this gathering he singles me out and we make an instant, deep connection. I become part of his inner circle. The dream ends when he puts his arm across my shoulder and says, “We will always be friends, we and our whole families.” I know this involves obligation in the African way but I gladly take it on.

For some reason this dream reminded me of an encounter I had last week with a neighbor.

He came up behind me on his bike as I was walking on the road just beyond the steepest slope of hill in front of our house. “Hello!” he said, and I jumped.

“You scared me. You snuck up on me!” I recognized him as the older man who farms a mile away and runs a stand that sells the region’s best sweetcorn.

“Yeah. I thought I was pretty quiet.” He pedaled ahead of me for a few yards and then turned around and headed back down the hill. “I am walking up Curran Hill for exercise,” he explained.

“Okay,” I said. “Good for you.”

He disappeared down the hill. I was puzzled. He was on a bike. He must have meant he was biking up the hill for exercise.

The hill we live on is the steepest one in the region and we often see bikers practicing on it. Slow, steady up and really fast down. When I bike I prefer to head downhill from our driveway, ending my ride with the gentler climb from the other direction and braking on the steep descent to our drive, which is 2/3 of the way down the hill. The steep side of the hill is a challenge for me to take on the rise. I was a bit surprised that Mr. Vite was up to climbing it repeatedly. But if so, indeed, good for him.

I was taking advantage of the sunny, mild late-November weather for a trash walk. (I could still walk and bend over then.) The roadside was nearly clean because I’d walked it just three days earlier. But in the 2.5-mile roundtrip to Red Bud Trail, I filled a small grocery bag with trash: beer cans, fast food wrappers, and a postcard from Myrtle Beach dated August 16. “Brady. Went golfing today. Saw 8 turtles. Miss you. Sheryl and Rick.” I gather trash out of anthropological curiosity as well as to keep up the neighborhood.

My bladder was calling me home by the time I approached the crest of Curran Hill from the gentle side and began the steep descent to our driveway. I was thus in a bit of a hurry. But there was Mr. Vite again and he was, indeed, walking up the hill, pushing his bike. The bike was apparently for a fast trip downhill to get the effect of a continuous hike uphill with the repeated climbs. Not a bad strategy.

He stopped. “Hello again,” he said. And then he added, “You seem like an outstanding person.”

I did not know how to respond to that but he clearly wanted to talk and I did my best, pinching my legs together. We talked for a minute about exercise and collecting trash and how long I have lived in the area. I was wearing a low-brimmed hat and he apparently didn’t recognize me as one of his customers. I told him I often come by his stand. And then he repeated, “Well, you seem like an outstanding person.”

I did not know what he meant by that or what, in our first encounter of only a few seconds, caused him to draw that conclusion about me (he didn’t recognize me and I didn’t even have the trash bag in my hand…). I wanted to ask but I really did have to go by then and so I just laughed and said goodbye and squirmed the last hundred yards to the house.

Now here is the dream connection. The young man in the dream was my inner Outstanding Person. Maybe he was shining through in that brief encounter.

May we, indeed, be friends forever, we and all our families. Happy anniversary.

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