Ari Book 1 — verse

The cab door closed shutting me into the backseat
Feeling cut off from love and frightened
Like a tiger cub in the wild
Hearing the steel cage snap shut
Wanting only to be back with its mother and siblings
Not knowing what separation means beyond the moment
Not knowing why
I knew we were saying good-bye
I knew why
I could see her standing on the sidewalk
Less than twenty feet away
Twenty feet and counting
The driver rocked the cab as he got in and closed his door
He slowly pulled away from the curb
Maneuvering through the traffic
I strained my neck watching her fade away
Her image blurred by my tears
My heart ripping out from my chest
"Good-bye Beauty" I whispered
Going blind in a rainstorm of salty misery
"Where to?" the driver asked in a gentle and quiet voice
Grateful for his sensitivity
I wanted to collapse in his arms
In any arms
To sob openly
How could I answer this man when I could not talk ?
I blew my nose
Still running in rebellion to life on an airplane
Running harder now with my tears
"The Ala Wai" I croaked
"Which hotel sir" he asked with such a polite tenderness
My heart opened to him
"No hotel
    My home
    I'll show you"
He ask me no more questions
As we left the airport and glided onto H-1
The Koolaus passed on my left
Those lushest of green mountains
Running almost down to the ocean on Oahu's Diamond Head side
Today holding back a white turbulence of clouds
Just waiting for a nudge to send them down over Honolulu
A nudge which seldom came
The ocean lay flat on my right
Blue and sparkling
She still stood back at the airport
Captured indelibly in my mind
The smile which lifts my heart like no other
Faded from her lips
A casualty of our situation
A casualty of our return to Paradise
From another Paradise deep in the South Pacific
Now laying hours and light years away
Her heart as broken as mine
Her life much more confused
In pieces I was being whisked home by my squire of the moment
In pieces she stood still
Waiting to be collected by her husband
A man no stranger to pain
How did I get myself in such a fix ?
In love with a married woman
I the other man
Tasting the bitter sweetness
So many other women have known throughout time
The hurried hour she is able to snatched from a too-full life
Full of responsibilities
Duties to husband and children
Duties to today's family
Learned in yesterday's home
Watching her mother sacrifice her life for the children
Watching her father
Kind by his time and culture's standards
Yet offering no support to his wife
Caught up in his male work world
The family a loved possession
To be supported financially
Never to be nurtured from the heart
She growing up in an Asian culture which teaches only
To keep the family together
At the expenses of personal growth
She having learned well
Having become the proficient wife and mother
Having been stripped of her self-confidence
Under the whip of constant criticism wielded by her older husband
Until all she could fall back upon was her illusion of harmony
Keeping peace in the home the only goal left her
Subjugating her desires to her new family's
How did she become involved with a seeker of freedom such as me?
A crazy impetuous creature
No stranger to illusion myself
Having looked so hard in earlier years for an escape from discomfort
Creating more misery for myself than I could ever imagine
Always working toward freedom
No matter how circuitous the route
A never-married man of forty when I met her
Ten years younger than her husband
Knowing first-hand the attraction and pitfalls of involvement with partially available women
Knowing and committed to a long-term struggle
To gain personal balance
To wait for the next relationship
Until strong enough to attract someone fully available
Someone committed to love and growth
We met in a neutral environment
Which allowed us to become friends
Without challenge from her husband
Without deceit upon our part
Without any intention by either of us
To bring so much pain to our lives
Looking for Spiritual love
Neither satisfied with our lives
Wanting a greater relationship with Spirit
We unlocked a puzzle box
Scrambling our divergent values
Turning our lives inside out and outside in
Leaving no moment without challenge
How more exciting can life get?
How more fulfilling?
I think I know
It is a dream I have as I write these words
A re-occurring vision
Which I can only surrender
For I have learned I can will nothing
Except havoc
How did this start?
This adventure of love and grief
It began eighteen months before that day in April
When I left the airport in such distress
Watching her left standing alone
It began with a simple statement from a trusted friend
"Zachary you need to learn to control your sexual energy"
It was Laureen who confronted me
Doing so with love and detachment
Surprising me completely
"That's an understatement" I said smiling
Laying on her treatment table
Looking at the white ceiling
Thinking of the waves of hormonal assaults which had carried me
From one dance club to another the past week
The room was too cool for me
"I'm serious"
She held both my wrists
Feeling my pulses with her fingers
"You are so locked down today
   I can't get your heart open and
    I damn sure can't work on your liver flow
    Until your heart releases its blockage"
She took a deep breath
Closed her eyes and turned her attention inward
I love Laureen deeply
She and I go back many lifetimes
Opening her eyes she looked into mine
The light flowing around her increased
Her greenish eyes became piercing
"I guess it's time to talk about this, dear Soul" she said
"My sex life?"
  Dear God I don't want to talk about your sex life"
She laughed and her red-golden hair shook
"I want to talk about how you manage your sexual energy
   Who you do what with is your business"
She took my right hand in both of hers
Patted it gently then spoke quietly
She told me of women
Who had confided in her
Women whom she said
I had knocked off our spiritual path
With my sexual energy
She shared their feelings that I had come on to them
Then turned cold
"I haven't had sex with anyone for two years!
  How could I?"
She said she was not talking about sex
She said many women were drawn to me
That I can be a wonderful vehicle for Spirit
But a higher degree of responsibility comes with spiritual unfoldment
She told me unless I manage myself with
Love and respect for others
I will create a great deal of negative karma for myself
"I don't want to see that" she said
Thirty minutes later I left
Closing the door behind me a little too hard
Not from anger but
From pain which dulled me to the outer world
The little welcome bell tinkled frantically behind me
I walked down the tile hallway and out the back door
Feeling the warmth of Honolulu
The rest of the building was seedy
Compared to Laureen's white office
Which seemed to stay in the physical world
By the slimmest of tethers
"As you think about it
   I hope you'll understand" she had said
I thought about it
Weeding through pain and fear
"You know I can't tell you" she had said
Of course I knew Laureen could not tell me
But I had to ask her and I ask myself now
Over and over again
I thought about Sandra
About Akiko
About Leslie
About Terese
About Luciane
About Ute
About Kay
About...who else ?
About another Leslie, the woman at the Seminar in Florida
But Laureen would not know her
She was not even at the Florida Seminar
I knew I was wrong as I thought it
Laureen is where she chooses to be and
Is not limited to her physical body
Like all of us
Only she has developed her awareness and control
More than most
Laureen would have checked on the inner
Before bringing this up to me
She would not toss something so volatile my way on a whim
My head ached driving home
Laureen's words filling my head all evening
Before bed I sang a Love Song to God
Singing HU quietly " HHHHUUUUUUU "
Watching my inner screen swirl
With the blue light of my spiritual guide
Without trying I left my physical body
Joining my guide, Zand, on a bluff
Overlooking a vast valley of turmoil and darkness
Where all life was distraught
Just looking down into the valley
I felt heavy and drained
The HU became a strong wind roaring through me
We turned back from the cliff and
Sat on a glistening white bench washed by a pool of light
Our bodies full of tiny flashing points of light
Silently I sat by his side
Laureen's words echoing
"Is it true?" I asked
    I've shown you the Valley
    So you will have a clear reference point
"As we unfold
    It is easy to lose sight of our growth
    Becoming careless in many ways
    Greater attention is needed
    The farther up the ladder of Spirit we climb
    It is less painful to fall from the first rung
    Than from a higher one
    And easier to start the ascent again if we have fallen only a short way"
I felt my chair support me
The room was full of pounding blue light
The bench and the valley gone
I sat still for a long while
Still feeling the presence of Zand
Letting images flow freely through my mind
I saw Sandra's laughing face
As we crossed the street from lunch
Between our Sunday Service and
A planning meeting for our next Seminar
I joked and played with her
Sometimes risque
Sometimes being crazy
Usually throwing energy around
Energy which spun off from my frustrations
Energy I did not sit with
It was subtle
It was real
I could feel my lower chakra energy coming around from behind
Stinging Sandra with titillation and exciting outrage
Such a subtle awareness
That voicing my current thoughts
Would have brought me a hyper-sensitive label
From friends of earlier days
After a few steps up the ladder I could no longer
Stand on one foot and hang by one hand
To fool around with others nearby
I saw clearly my sexual energy
Coming around to sting Sandra
Stinging Akiko
Stinging both Leslies
Stinging Terese
Stinging Luciane and Ute and Kay
Stinging who knows who else
My Scorpion's Tail
Causing a subtle havoc beyond my own life
Returning chaos to me
Chaos I lived but did not understand
Until now 

Half the women I saw
Were still on The Path
The rest were not
The throbbing blue light in the room fell quiet
I sat alone
Feeling a sober realization
Flow into my heart
I did not want to fall
I did not want to make it difficult for others
I wanted to serve Spirit
Not give It disservice
Like a toy pistol
Which has suddenly fired injuring someone
I put away my Scorpion's Tail
I could not cut it off
It is part of me
But I could groom it with such a firm hand
It would not cast its sting at others
It was a Sunday in February
Honolulu was deep in the throws of winter
Rain every other day
Lows near sixty
Highs sometimes only into the mid-seventies
Life is tough in paradise
I sat with my back to the book display
Looking across the single room which is our Center
Watching the morning clouds dance across the crystal blue sky
No rain today
Someone passed in front of me
People were taking their seats
In the circle of chairs filling the room
I shifted my focus to the person
Who moved toward an empty seat several chairs to my right
I blinked once as my contacts blurred
Then clearly saw her
She turned and sat down in a blue chair
I stopped breathing
My solar plexus squirmed
Energy shot through me
Then I caught myself
"Stay neutral Zak" I said aloud
Someone next to me said "What did you say"
I don't know if I answered them
I was watching her
Thinking neutrality as my Scorpion's Tail twitched
She was Asian
She dressed simply
She moved as silk cascades
Like she had been trained to wear her dignity as a protective cloak
I forced myself to look away
Then looked back immediately
She was looking at me
She smiled!
Then looked away before I could free my face of its paralysis
To smile back
Her dark
Hair was cut short
She wore a simple gold chain around her neck and
A beige dress
I had seen her eyes
Her high cheek bones were beautiful
The shape of her face unusual
She looked back
We both smiled at the same time
Her eyes lifted me from myself
Tossing me into the clouds
My heart raced
I calmed myself
Determined to keep my Scorpion's Tail in check
The Sunday Service started with the facilitator explaining
She would be reading a quote
From one of the books of The Path
Then we would sing HU for a few minutes
Sitting quietly in contemplation
Until she said "May The Blessings Be"
She explained "HU" was an ancient name for God
Untarnished by misuse
She explained singing HU was singing a Love Song to God
Calming and helping to bring us to a higher viewpoint
She told us after the HU Song and contemplation
We would break into small groups to discuss the day's topic
Then come back together near the end of the hour
To recap the discussion and end the Sunday Service
She read the quote
I did not hear it
Then were quiet
I was barely there
We broke into small groups
The woman in the beige dress
Sat across from me in the next group
I tried not to stare
Twice our eyes met
I could not talk
I could not think
I fought to keep my stinger sheathed
I had seen her eyes and faced a major challenge
Our annual Seminar was the following weekend
I was the Director this year
In addition to coordinating the event
I had the spiritual responsibilities
To stay clear
To stay neutral
To be the best vehicle for Spirit I could be
At the very end of the Service
Upcoming events were announced
I was passed the microphone to discuss the Seminar
No one gasped
Shrieked or moaned
They may have laughed
I do not know
I said something
I know not what
Then she was in front of
"Hi I'm Ari" she said holding out her hand
I hope I introduce myself
As I looked into her eyes feeling her warm touch
Ever met your mother
Your brother
Your sister
Your father
Your friend
Your lover
All in one?
Past lives shot across my inner screen
She asked about the dream video showing
To be presented the following Wednesday night
She could not attend
I offered to show her the video
Whenever she had the time
I gave her my card and looked into her eyes
Seminar Day arrived
I managed to lose thoughts of Ari
Mulling over a hundred details
Awareness of my Scorpion's Tail
A treasured gift from Laureen
With much help from Spirit
And from my inner Guide Zand
My work through the winter
Had prepared me for this day and beyond
My stinger tucked away while I wondered if she would come
I marveled at how little real work I had to do
People old and new to The Path and each other
Set up the one day seminar at the University School of Travel
Working fluidly
Smiling with love and joy
Then she was there
Late in the morning
After I had bumbled my Introduction to the Seminar
We talked
Went to the same workshop on dreams
I asked her to have lunch
She said "Yes"...!
I drove her to a health food corner market
My sandwich chicken and feta
Hers a garden burger
We talked and laughed
She wore a gentle restraint
Not like the women I am usually attracted to
Half-wild, uninhibited in their expression
Of who they are
Of what they feel
I felt a warm closedness about her
Yet a tremendous attraction hung between us
She had my attention as no woman had ever
Spirit flowed so strongly
I had no problem with my Scorpion's Tail
It laying quiet well-trained and
Soothed by the steady flow of spiritual energy
I looked into her eyes
Found rivers of shared past experiences but
Remained very quiet about them
The realization I was to clear the path for her
Settled over me in a taffeta cloak of golden light
I saw my job was to make her initial steps on The Path
Free of unnecessary clutter
Without pulling her
If a person on The Path tries to influence another
They don't do it for long
So foolish to interfere in another's choice
When the price paid
Is so clear quick and increasingly severe
If she wanted to walk The Path though
I could walk with her
I could clear away any boulders Spirit directed me to move out of her way
She told me she was married
Had two girls
Sarah and Sally
Ten and eight
She was Thai
Her husband Swedish
I suggested her kids were "Sweets"
She laughed with reserve
She said she had a happy marriage
I did not believe her but
Stayed neutral
She ask if joining The Path
Meant having to give up her lifestyle
Her home
Her things
Her family
I said "No
  There are no rules which require anything like that"
What went unspoken
Was the experience of thousands before her who walk The Path
With each step
Spirit enters our lives more fully
Bringing greater awareness
It's not possible to live with Spirit
More each day and remain asleep
Whether she would face losing her home or family
Would depend on the sum of all her past choices
In her past lives and
How well she listened to her inner voice
And her inner guides
If she went far enough on The Path she would have to give up
Her attachment for everything or have it taken away
I did not mention this irony of surrender to Spirit
Of giving up everything
Yet being given all we need
More than we can imagine
As long as we do not become attached
Only she could answer her questions and
She did not know this
I knew I would do anything to help her
That I must do everything I could
To prevent her from facing the choice
Between her husband and The Path
The Seminar ended
I continued writing a short story which grew
Into the "B-B-B" word
I finally said it
“I'm writing a book"
After suddenly buying a used laptop
Overpriced but owner financed
To take with me to the Springtime International Seminar in DC
For those studying--or interested in--The Path
I wrote every day home and away
Thanks to the new computer
Ignoring work
No longer an independent loan officer
Scrambling hard as Vice-President
To push our business to a new level
Had resulted in good cash-flow
For the early months of the year
Ours a very small company
The new underwriter we hired
On one hundred percent commission like Bob and I
Offered her perspective
When we told her she would also be Vice President
"Vice-President of Nothing" she confided to the one person not on commission
Our "Comptroller" from mainland China
A finished thesis away from an MBA in business
With a bent for working madly on a project
Without bothering to ask for directions
Unaware he did not know what he was doing in crucial areas
Wonderful guy
So willing to help
An engineering degree from a society which discourages competency
Discourages personal initiative
Lost at sea in a small business
Where everyone must do everything
With a minimum of guidance
I was Senior VP of Nothing
Not caring
Wrapped up in writing
Living off my recent efforts
I showed up most days
Took out the trash as needed
Created the illusion I was working
When I was thinking about the book instead
Thinking about Ari often
She called often
She invited me out for an evening occasionally
She sent me a birthday card in April
When she was off island
Inside a single ticket to a Mozart Concert
And a note saying
She was sorry she could not go with me
Thanking me "For always being there"
I was touched deeply
Wondering what I had done
To always be there for her
Carefully so very carefully our friendship unfold
A brief hug and a kiss on the cheek
Limited discussion about her marriage
No Scorpion's Tail stinging
No subtle desires pushing to the surface
Our friendship richening
The deep bond was there
She was never far from my attention
But always pushed down just below the surface
Listening to Spirit to know what to do next
To clear The Path for her
She acted married not joining us for lunch
After Sunday Service
She acted married
Often ending a phone conversation
With abrupt reference to "him"
"He's coming
    He wants me to watch a movie with him
    He's calling to me from the top of the stairs"
"I better go
    He wants
    He demands
    I have to please him"
Was the unspoken message
I wondered what kind of marriage she had
Calling her husband "he" and "him" without affection
Without revealing the desire of being together
She acted married
But she did not feel married
Not in the true sense
I said nothing
We talked about spiritual principles
About the steps she was taking along The Path
Two years of study are required
Before someone can elect to walk The Path
Stepping off is always possible
But easier if done in the first two years
Some people race ahead
Overdosing on Spirit
Burning off too much karma in too short a time
Their lives temporarily a wreck
Some people are more steady
Ari was feeling her way by the inch
Coming from a culture which taught her
To subvert her feelings and desires
To serve her parents
To serve her husband
Making spiritual liberation a step into the unknown
Yet she took the steps
Drawn by the Light
Drawn by the Sound
The inner Light and Sound of God
Which is everywhere for everyone
Waiting to be recognized
By those willing to risk opening to Spirit
No subtle desires pushing to the surface
In my friendship with Ari
Complete control of my Scorpion's Tail
In all matters pertaining to The Path
In the rest of my life
Sexual chaos
My stinger leading me
Leading the pull between hormones and survival
In a world changed by AIDS
Spiritual awareness has changed my world
I knew I could not limit matters pertaining to The Path
To the time spent at the Center
Or a spiritual actively
Spiritual unfoldment involves all life
I kept my chaos hidden
Pushed back and down
From my friends
From other people on The Path
From Ari
But I was running amok
Leaving HU Songs
Going straight to dance clubs
Asking any women who smiled at me for more
None agreed thankfully
They were doing their job
Enticing me
Not wanting to be away from their work
With a balding forty year old
So captured by his need and Aries directness
He was not capable of delaying gratification long enough
To meet a women under more natural circumstances
I got shot through with titillation
Sating my habit begun twenty years earlier
In the dance clubs and porn movie house of Indiana
A youth reaching out for love
Without the ability or good sense
To look beyond the moment
Beyond his childhood pain of abandonment
Our local Center gave a dance at the bandstand in Kapiolani Park
Inviting anyone interested to come
Dance in the Light and Sound
Fifties music
Sixties music
A couple of Virginia Reels and the Hokey Pokey
I sat silently off to one side
Watching the others dance
Obeying Laureen's orders earlier in the day to get some rest
Exhausted from too much writing
Too much creative flow
Testosterone poisoning and too little sleep
Laureen had admonished me
For having run down my body
The lowest she had seen me in two years
I promised to be good
I was good
Until I saw Ari and her girls
Walk into the pool of flood lights surrounding the bandstand
In a moment I was by her side
Playing with the girls
With them for only the second time
Sally swiped one of my shoes
Whooping I chased her
She fled squealing
Then Sarah had my other shoe
I ran and ran
Catching them
Letting them go
Not being able to catch them
Stopping to talk with Ari
She and I pushed onto the dance floor by the girls
As a couple
Dancing slowly with Ari
Holding her like a priceless treasure
I was not sure was mine to hold
We all did the Hokey Pokey
The girls, Ari and me bumping into each other
As comfortable as puppies
I noticed Laureen near the edge
Moving closer to her
I yelled, "Just following doctor's orders"
She smiled
Lighting up the dance floor even more
"I can see
    I can see"
Then it was over
The music was done
People milled around
Sally brought us cups of punch
The girls ran out into the park benches
Playing some game
Among the seats used for watching performances
They discovered a homeless person sleeping in the back row
Then their father was at the very edge of the light
The girls ran to him
Telling him all about the dance
He had with him the teenage daughter of a friend
Whom the family was going to take to the airport
For a midnight flight home
I hung back from Ari as she joined her family
Until she motioned me forward
As I stepped into the group
I saw her husband's face for the first time
"Zak this is Robert
    And our friend's daughter Kelly
    She's on her way back to Taiwan"
Robert and I shook hands
I was stunned
He was older than Ari
Much older with a heavily lined face
A slight, almost weak physical presence
Not someone I would picture her with
Later I wondered if it had been the light
Or lack of light
Which had cast him in such an unappealing shadow
After they left I bounced as I walked home
Heart light from our touching as we danced
With a growing emptiness
Missing her sparkling company
I guided myself back to clarity
Bringing my role in her life back into sharp focus
Spring bled into summer
I wrestled with my hormones
Ari stopped by the office
Sometimes we had lunch
Her experience with the HU
With the inner Light and Sound
Our friendship
Also deepened without an extra word of acknowledgment
Time for the Summertime Seminar in Anaheim arrived
She was not sure until the last minute
She was going
Anyone's first major Seminar is an event
Even if they sail through it
Oblivious to their inner changes
Singing HU with five thousand people
Listening to Sri Thomas the spiritual leader of The Path
The Outer Master currently available for inner guidance
Available to any who ask
Who also runs a full-time physical body
Subject to the same lower world Passions of the Mind
We all are
His stories are special
Weaving their meanings on many different levels
Full of humor and love
Stories of everyday events
Looked at with an eye toward uncovering Spirit's hand
In all life
Not bound by full-time physical bodies
Already having spent their time suffering and growing in the physical
Other Masters remain available in the inner worlds
To all who are open to them
Manifesting in the physical when needed
But less able to bridge the inner and outer
As effectively as a Master who runs a physical body 24/7
I went early to the Writer's Conference
Preceding the Seminar in Anaheim
Then Ari was at my hotel room door
Whom I dared not call so
Having arrived an hour earlier
Coming to see her good friend
I pushed away my desire for her
And romped through the next two days
With Beauty
With Joe
With Henri
With Diane and her very fresh baby
With the adorable blue vein
Atop its little head
About which Joe wrote a song
To the tune of "Amazing Grace"
And sang as a love song
"Amazing vein on top my head
    That's blue and bulging out
    Someday my hair will grow so long
    No one will find out"
Saturday I met two women
One of which interested me
But not yet
The other captured my stinger with her own sexual snare
She made her living doing strip-a-grams
I followed her around shamelessly as soon as I picked-up her scent
With Ari, Joe & Henri in tow
Late in the night I was alone in my room with both new women
Watching a movie
Cruising on the amazing high energy of the Seminar
The not-yet-of-interest woman left in the middle of the night
The other women
With the compelling sexual energy and questioning openness
Which drew me as strongly as her scent
Stayed what was left of the night
We almost made love in the morning
But a distant voice finally pierce my obsession
Telling me to pass her by
I dressed in a haze of exhaustion
Leaving her sliding back into sleep
To rush to the early Sunday morning HU Song
The special one
Throughout the seminar Ari had saved me seats
For different programs
While I volunteered
Setting up and tearing down workshop rooms
As I rushed to the auditorium that Sunday morning
I knew I had lost something
But I did not know what
I found Joe and Ari together near the front
They had not saved me a seat
They did not know if I would be coming
I was desolated knowing I had created my isolation
A seat in front of Ari opened up just before the HU began
I thanked Spirit for the gift
For sparing me from being sent to the back of the auditorium
Away from her
Much later in our friendship
I learned that she really did not mind
That I was with the women with the sexual snare
She just did not like her much
I did not like leaving Ari
I learned that Sunday morning in Anaheim
I needed to be by her side
Listening to her
Listening to Spirit
Surrendering my needs
Surrendering my passions
Whatever was building
Whatever the form our friendship was too take
It is a buoyant, exhilarating feeling
To set aside personal needs for someone
A decision I made without hesitation
Living it moment to moment is the test
My test
Ari was gone for July
To Europe for the family's summer visit
To the homeland of her husband's father
With his quick smile
His sharp tongue
His closed heart
As she described him
I missed her
But did not dwell on it
She was gone
She was married
She was my friend
I finished the second rewrite
Of my B-B-Book
Sent it to an agent in Pittsburgh
Who responded promptly
With a request for eighteen hundred dollars for editing
Thanks but no thanks
I looked around Honolulu for a local editor
In the health food store
In my way
As I headed for the door with work on my mind
Stood Gwen
A woman on a motorcycle I had met in April
Letting her spend one night on my floor on my folding futon pad
Because she was tired and
Did not to want to ride back to the north shore
On her Honda 150
Only to return in the morning
To give three piano lessons
It was a strange evening
Gwen's soft core hidden under her hard surface
Studded with rigid opinions
Seeking power powerlessly
Shutting herself off from Spirit
Making her path so much more difficult than seemed necessary
But who can really tell
Where another is with Spirit?
The more I learn about myself the more I see
I am doing exactly what I need to be doing in that moment
Even if it is not my best
I am still learning
Still unfolding
It must be that way with everyone
Whether they can express it or not
Standing in the health food store doorway
Gwen and I exchanged one sentences summaries of our lives
She was between official homes
Living with friends
Living out of a storage locker
Frantic and kinetic
Appealing in a way
My writing
My experience with the Pittsburgh agent
Came tumbling out
Gwen reminded me
She was an "crack" editor with east coast training
I did not question her self-appraisal
We agreed to meet the next evening
To discuss working together
I had feelings in many directions
But let them go
Willing to watch this adventure unfold
We did meet almost as planned
Gwen was twenty minutes late
"Whimsical out-of-body adventures
    Nearly hidden spiritual principles
    A madcap tour though a zany world"
Gwen grew more interested in my manuscript as I described it
Reminding me books are books only upon publication
Manuscripts until publication
The same way writers become authors
Too picky for my broad strokes
But I needed input
Sorting it out a job for later
We went to my office to draft a short contract
Amid a mutual hunger
Mine for feedback
Hers for money and recognition
The small negotiations became sticky
We barely agreed on her earnings
Should the work get published with her changes intact
We agreed that she would first do a line-by-line review
Then an overview
I gave her the first payment
Against the nudge of my inner voice
We had our first meeting a week later
The two hundred pages she promised were half done
Her line-by-line comments crisp
Some disagreement
Some clarification
Lots of her opinions
Divergent attitudes
She liked my viewpoint
I reworked the first hundred pages
At our next meeting she had little done
I gave her my rewrite
We talked too much
I left determined to practice the law of silence in the future
Some people invited sharing
With their open readiness
When my ego kicks in I trip over my human consciousness
Forgetting to listen to Spirit’s direction
Gwen's brick-hard stack of opinions inviting quixotic flailing
As useless to me as her
Her editing I liked so we continued
Next week
Next meeting
Some more work done
Another payment
The manuscript was reforming
She liked my rewrite
She called me sooner than agreed
Needing the balance of her fee
To move in that night with a woman she said
Would be a perfect roommate for her
The nest she had been longing for
In town, near many of her piano students
I gave in
She was at her appealing best promising me
When all her agreed upon work would be done
Until I felt callow for asking
Giving her word freely
I also had another nudge from my inner
"Mistake" It said
The roommate was ideal for less than a day
By the weekend Gwen was house sitting
For an off-island friend
About whom Gwen had little good to say
No work from her
Life too stressful
More promises
Days or weeks later she showed up in my driveway
Only three hours late
Raging at the traffic
Raging as though she had been forced
To marry a republican businessman
For her something to truly rage about
Traffic a convenient scapegoat
I tried to sooth her
She escalated
Quickly I reached my limit
Told her to come back when she was sane
Closing the door behind me
To keep her outisde
She left
With the last hundred pages of the rewrite
No phone calls returned
Her friend back from her trip
With nothing good to say about Gwen
Telling me Gwen was living with her sometimes boy-friend
I called
He was pleasant
No response from Gwen
I let it go after complaining to anyone who would listen
And finished the rewrite myself
Her input was valuable
Worth the full fee
Even though less than half our contract was fulfilled
Sometimes I handle people with the energy they throw at me
Mixing it with my own discomforts
Satisfying my in-the-moment urge
Creating incomplete exchanges
The experiences with my local editor were mine to digest
I had a book to sell
A third round of query packages sent out
Thirty-plus carefully researched small presses this time
A rewritten query letter
Summary, chapter synopsis and sample chapter
Before the early return of rejection letters
Could cross in the mail with the stragglers
From the two previous mailings to agents
I asked Ari out to a movie
She asked Robert who said "yes" without any voiced concern
We kidded and laughed about our “date"
A night-out
Including celebrating Ari was going to the World Wide
The next major Seminar on the mainland
The first in Minneapolis
Where we could visit the just finished Temple
A night-out
Which ended on the beach under a blooming moon
Hand-in-hand walking in silence
Treasured friendship running deep
The night out was a calming oasis
A time-out from the rush of work
From the push to complete the mailing
From my daily struggle with hormonal overload
My many edged sword of intimacy
Too convoluted to dissect
Too powerful to turn away
I hung-on trying to survive my attempts at chronic self-destruction
Seeking love where it is not
My Scorpion's Tail in firm check with Ari
With other women in my work world
With other women on The Path
But let loose like a maverick wildebeest during other unfocused moments
I was trying desperately to stay away from the dance clubs
Whenever I spent money there it seemed to dry up at work
The Law of Economy can be exacting when abused
In the midst of this blurred autumn
A subtle event in Honolulu
I picked-up a copy of the Buy and Sell island newspaper
Filled with cars, computers and junk for sale
Under Personals were several ads for dating services
I was sure they were less than legitimate
But decided to call anyway
Just to see
Later at home on that Saturday afternoon
I dialed
Three were dull
Obviously referral services
Where “date" began with "How much"
Not of conscious interest but my imagination was awakened
I called another
Sex dripped from the receiver
Fun for thirty seconds
Too strong to pursue
The last add read
"Hawaii's Finest"
A pleasant man answered
Asking discreetly what sort of woman I might be interested in
My hormones now throbbing
I pushed aside the dim memories
Of two previous latex-coated experiences
With women choosing money over love
Perhaps they like I had slipped into a groove
Which held no love
Such a fruitless dance
Looking for love outside of ourselves
Yet so necessary a step in learning about love
About Divine Love
Divine Love was far from my mind as the phone rang
Jennifer as promised
She sounded so sweet and willing
I did not ask anything outrageous
I even ask that if we liked each other
Could future time together perhaps include dinner first
"Of course" she said softly purring into my ear
Unfortunately she was leaving soon for the Big Island
We set a tentative date for Tuesday evening
Primed for instant gratification
But now having to live with the decision until Tuesday
Knowing Spirit was giving me time to reconsider
Wanting the experience desperately
I pushed aside any inner warnings
Focusing only on Tuesday evening
Focusing on satisfying my needs
I worked little Tuesday afternoon
Did not eat
Bought a new bottle of massage oil
The old one mostly used on safe sex for the single man
Bought an assortment of condoms
Tuesday at seven o'clock I called the contact number
Told the pleasant voice of my agreement with Jennifer
She called back in minutes
"Nine o'clock"
Would that work for me she wanted to know
"Of course"
The hotel I was to visit was just down the block
Was nicer than made sense
For someone charging such a reasonable rate
I bounced around my apartment
On the sharp needle-point of expectation
On the short walk to the hotel Spirit nagged softly
Testing me to see how much I wanted this experience
I wanted it badly
I walked by the Honolulu Police Department three-wheeler
Sitting near the open lobby
Cops are everywhere in Waikiki
I walked by a herd of families
Waiting for the buses to come shuttle them to a luau
Or the Polynesian Cultural Center
Waiting for their Hawaii experience
The elevator opened on the sixth floor
The hallway slightly damp and mildewy
Unlike the breezy lobby
The room was five doors away
I knocked
The door was opened by a beautiful local hapa woman
Half Asian, half not
She invited me in
She did not have on the tight spandex pants I requested
She was dressed casually not provocatively
Jeans shirt and a vest
I wondered about the vest
Her eyes soothed my questions
She asked again what I wanted to do
I told her
She repeated my request
Changing my words to more exact almost clinical ones
She asked if I had the money
I gave her a thin stack of twenties
She said she would be just a moment and went into the bedroom
I watched her go to the closet
To change and tuck-away the money I assumed
Suddenly two football players jumped into the room
One from behind the curtain near me
One from the bedroom brushing by the hapa woman
I was under arrest for prostitution
The handcuffs closed around my wrists cold and tight
I kept replaying the scene
Watching where I could have stepped aside
Avoiding what I now faced
The woman stayed out of sight in the bedroom
The football players were humorless
Searching my pockets
Somehow overlooking my business cards
"Occupation" one asked
"Writer" I answered
Not wanting to drag our company into the papers
Thankful that there was nothing on me
Connecting me to The Path
I would have to resign as Local Director
Wondering if I would be banished
No I decided
There are no witch hunts on The Path
Every step along The Path made possible by experience
I might be asked to step down from my leadership position
Maybe not
As informal as the organizational structure is
Maybe not
I would ask Ethel our Hawaii Director
And offer to resign
More questions from the goons met with basic answers
Hoping they would just me let go
"I was just horny" I said whining
"We all get horny" one of them replied still busy with his paper work
"But you broke the law"
Wondering if I wrong
Wondering if laws are unfair do I have to follow them
I was squirming big time in the physical and my inner bodies
Feeling like an animal about to be sacrificed
Wanting to avoid the experience facing me
Standing directly in my path
I sang HHHHUUUUUUU silently
Felt the calming cloak of Spirit fall over me
Showing me right and wrong are not the issue
I chose this action
I live the outcome
I chose to live in this society
As Soul choosing Its situation to be born into
To best work on issues needed to master
As my adult human consciousness
Free to live in another country
If I did not like the rules of this one
I had chosen to live in Honolulu and
In doing so agreed to live by the rules of this society
I had read about the crackdown
The tougher prostitution law enacted in the summer
I had ignored Spirit's nudges
Now I was about to live the experience I had asked for so loudly
It just was not what I expected
Or wanted
My denial surged when I was taken down to the lobby
One of the goons carrying my little bag
Of massage oil and condoms
I was forced to waiting in the open lobby
Sitting on my handcuffed hands
The herds of families there when I came in
Thankfully gone
A white squad car came
The back seat was barren and grey with little leg room
The handcuffs cut into my wrists
I felt so helpless
So angry with myself
The ride downtown was brief
The police station located on Young Street
Two miles short of downtown
I parked nearby whenever I saw Laureen for a treatment
Thoughts of what would happen ended when the car door opened
Wiped out by the events themselves
I was walked into a basement room
Logged in
Locked into a cell to wait
Then fingerprinted
Photographed front and side
These cops were nearly human
Joking with each other like jocks
Slightly warm
Slightly tolerant of me
I was told I could get out with five hundred dollars  bail
I had sixty bucks
Could not used the evidence
The slim stack of twenties
Given to the vanishing hapa woman
Far from enough anyway
The vanishing woman appeared
Sliding into the station looking uneasy
"Tracie's bust" someone said
They cheered
I was her trophy
I was told I could make a phone call
Who to call
I thought of Ari immediately
Spirit yelled "No"
I did not want her husband to know
Someone on The Path had been busted
Her friend in jail
My inner said this would come back to her
He would use it at some point making her way harder
I reached for my wallet
My card of friend's numbers in it
They had it
I had to ask someone to get it for me
Small hassle
Then the wallet was in my hands
I dialed Laureen's number
My heart slipped
I took several deep breaths
Felt pressured to make my call
The cop standing next to me
So he could go back to his whatever
I called again
Her son answered
"See if I can call him back"
She asked him from the background
I said it was important
A moment later she was on the phone
"What's the matter Zak?"
I told her why and how and where I was
What I needed
"We'll be right down
How much?"
I was locked into a worse than barren cell
A holding tank I think it was called
No seats
Part of the wall jutting forward forming a low concrete bench
So people
Would not have to sit on the floor
The cell painted with coats of depression
A stark urinal by the door
Shielded only slightly from the room of cops
My heart beating a thousand times as each moment passed
Then someone arrived out of my line of vision
My name was called
Laureen and Ernie were there
More moments full of hours
Court papers stuffed into my hands
Then I was in both their arms
So grateful
So humiliated
So angry with myself
They welcomed me with love and laughter
They were laughing!
Laughing at all the experiences Soul must go through
Laughing because they love me without judgment
Love me as Soul
I felt like I was coming home to a Fudge Sundae party
After breaking the neighbor's window
Expecting the stern reprimands of an old consciousness
Finding instead the fluid acceptance of Divine Love
They ask if I wanted to go somewhere and talk
"Yes No" I did not know
Then I knew I must go home
The clock said ten before eleven
When I stepped into my apartment
Home less than two hours
Since my "date" with Jennifer
I laid down
My heart throbbing in fear
So keenly aware of what I had chosen
Over staying home writing
Sixty pages into a new book
Flowing well
Knowing my work rhythm was now blown and
Hoping I could pick it up again
I HUed again
Felt Spirit keenly
Knowing I had been given the experience I needed
As smooth and painlessly as possible
I reached for the phone to share my experience with Ari
Not thinking how she might receive it
The weekend of the World Wide arrived
My trouble of two weeks past
Still numbing my consciousness
Ari was more than supportive
She would have come willingly if I had called she said
So glad I did not call her
So glad that this garbage of mine was not spilled at her feet
She told me she wished she could help me with this problem
I was stunned
What did she say?
Did she say she wanted to make love with me?
Or did she mean
She simply to "help" with a problem
So unlike her to infer any possible physical relationship
No matter how remote
The first time
She let any light pass under the door of sexuality between us
I let her statement stand
Cherishing her friendship
My stinger in solitary
The Temple was gorgeous
A Golden Wisdom Temple here on Earth
A place of amazing harmony and Spiritual openness
Carved out of Minnesota grasslands
Built by many people of many spiritual paths
All seeing it as a special building
Created to provide a tangible link
Between the inner worlds of pure Spirit
And the outer worlds of the physical
Where Spirit struggles to manifest
Built for those who are able to make use of such a link
Ari and I rode to the Temple in a bus full of happy people
Many from Hawaii
Wednesday afternoon
Sitting together
Feeling like a couple acting like friends
Lunch and a few hours after she had knocked on my hotel room door
So good to see her
She had sat on my bed tentatively
Had talked of the clean feeling she had coming to this city
Relaxed as I had never seen her relax
She had asked questions about
Why did I have to go through what I go through?
What will she have to go through?
Why does growing hurt?
"It doesn't always" I said grinning
Then we were out of the room
Our hearts lingering
Forbidden words unspoken
Lunch and the Temple calling to us
As the bus rounded a bend and crested a small rise
Forty minutes from the downtown area
A flash of gold struck me
Then we all saw the golden ziggurat roof of the Temple
Built to symbolize Soul's movement
From the lower worlds of human conscious
To the higher worlds of pure Spirit
Cool crisp Minnesota fall air
Country-side clean
Greeted everyone
Those from Hawaii bundled more than most
I freezing
Trying to detach from fears of illness and let Spirit shield me
The Temple stood low and graceful
On the many acres surrounding it
Golden-hued stone and concrete columns and walls
Locked together
Two octagons
Three squares forming
Vestibule and administration area
Barely in the physical
A link between Inner and Outer
Ari and I walked hand-in-hand
Until she became self-conscious
A large luminescent blue star hung over the sanctuary
An outer manifestation
Of so many people's inner experience
The Blue Star
One inner sign of the presence of the Inner Guide
The guiding consciousness
Passed from Spiritual Leader to Spiritual Leader
Working with both the Light and Sound of God
By any name
Throughout time
The weekend Seminar passed by in a blur of
All with Ari
We were together day and evening
Parting reluctantly late each night
She firm in her conviction
Her marriage gave her all she needed in a relationship
I knew her words
If not hollow
Were less than full
I did not probe
She welcomed my touch
An affectionate friend
She purred
When I massaged her on my bed in my room
Fully clothed
She agreed
When I said we were platonic lovers
Walked down a flight of stairs
Then turned suddenly saying "No"
Truth and reality
Struggling to coexist
She said "Watch it Buster"
When I made a playful proposition
Late one evening in the elevator going to her room
To be effective when she left her husband
For a moment I wondered if I had offended her
Then she was bright with smiles
Glowing throughout the weekend
Feeling the incredible flow of Spiritual Love
Present at all major seminars of The Path
She was more open now than in Anaheim
Washed by the Light
Resonating with the Sound
Walking back from her hotel Sunday night
Through spitting snow
Through my fear of the cold
Through the middle of the Minnesota Twins World Series celebration
I walked through the heart of my love for Ari
Seeing it
Undeniable and whole for the first time
I had said to a friend the day before without thinking
The words rolling out like someone whispered them into my ear
"She's married
    But I can't imagine her being married
    To the same man at least
    Five years from now"
Walking home through the honking horns
Through the happy wildness
I saw the months behind us
Shining with a special light
And the time ahead of us stretching out farther than I could see
Even with my inner vision
After Minnesota Ari and I spent more time together
Friday evenings twice a month after Laureen's class
We walked on the beach talking
Being quiet and close
After Sunday Service
Trips to the park
Or a museum
And occasionally an evening in each other's company
I skirted the edge of a nasty flu
Lungs heavy
I tried to prepare myself for court
I learned about pleading a deferred acceptance of guilt
Which could be erased at some point in the future
Cleaning my record if no other trouble appeared
I felt better with this knowledge
But far from clear
Heard the fine could be a thousand dollars
Scary with cash flow low
Business sluggish
Good loans dragging without apparent explanation
Though I knew why
I day-dreamed of changing any one of a dozen decisions
Leading up to being busted
Any of which would have saved me the pain and humility
I knew the experience was a loud alarm from Spirit
A shout to discipline this part of me
Its voice lifted
Over-riding the clamor of my obsession
An opportunity to cleanse
A demand for payment from so many past choices made
In spite of ongoing inner warnings
A Tuesday morning downtown in District Court
Too much air conditioning
Seeing one of the football player goons in a suit
Slip through the door next to the courtroom
Ready to testify
The Judge
A no-nonsense woman with a crisp sense of fairness
Explaining to all the options
Going into great detail about deferred acceptance of guilt
I felt lighter hearing her words
I looked around for TV cameras or reporters
Saw none
I watched people file before the bench
Explaining why they were there
Some dealing with their problems
Some postponing
Street girls from the night before
The men who drank too much
The men who fought with each other
And themselves
Women who did not speak English
Perhaps only for the day
Several cases of people who had failed to get auto insurance
A serious affair in Hawaii
Then I was the only one left
Called before the Judge
Feeling very naked
Eternally grateful no one was scribbling down
For tomorrow's paper this
Charges read
How did I plead?
I asked for a deferred acceptance of guilt
Thinking I was being polite by asking
The Judge mumbled something incomplete
Looked through a book in front of her
Then said she could not grant me a deferred acceptance
Since the law had been changed that July
Full sentencing was mandatory
The prosecutor--also a woman--agreed
Standing under a hidden spot light
Two women holding the strings
I pleaded guilty accepting the permanent record
Grateful to hear the fine was only my five hundred dollar bail
I left the courthouse to a sunny relieved Tuesday morning
Sinking into depression and anger
I talked to a woman at the street corner
Who spoke in half-hidden phrases
Then walked two blocks with her toward Chinatown
Before realizing she had also just been in court
Busted the night before for being on the streets
Too long on one corner
Talking to too many men
For a moment I was intrigued
Then shook myself out of it
My footsteps pounding I walked around downtown
Anger and libido mixing
Seeking release from the pressure
Saw a woman in tight jeans and cowboy jacket
Cross the street in front of me
I complimented her jacket awkwardly
She was civil
Appeared to be meandering
I thought about propositioning her but
Feared rejection
Feared acceptance
Feared my own self-destructive energy
I broke away from her and drove home
Went to work
Did not work much
Walked up and down Ala Moana's half mile of multi-level mall
Looking at women's crotches
Rage hammering
Went to a nearby dance bar
Looked at women's crotches
Without needing imagination
Ask a dancer out for dinner
She took my card
Went home again feeling helpless
Caught in my own sewer
Laid on my bed for hours
Wanting to cry
Wanting to see Ari
Feeling low and worthless
Feeling far away from my writing
Which had stopped with my arrest
Wondering if I would ever get passed my own hormones
Ever learn to manage my creative energy
Ari told me casually one day
Sally's birthday was coming up
"Isn't that when Robert will be in Europe?"
"Has he done something special
    to make up for missing his daughter's birthday" I asked
"No" she said
"He has been gone for her birthday several times before
I don't think he has gotten her anything
  Maybe when he returns"
I was appalled
A girl turns nine and her daddy has to be away
But treats it like just another day
I shut down my judgment
Knowing it would only come back to me
Two days later with Ari
While looking for a toy cash register for my nephew
I saw a box of face-paints
The next day I bought them and
Send them home with Ari after our next class
For Sally's birthday
I had only met the girls a few times
At restaurants mostly
Yet knew them well through Ari's deep love for them
When my nieces were eleven and nine
As were Sarah and Sally then
I spent wonderful times with them
Playing and fighting
Showing them St. Louis
Letting them be little adults for a week a few times a year
Our lives have flowed differently the past seven years
Seeing them little
My heart's place for Sarah and Sally already made with longing
Just below the surface
I was invited to dinner the day after Sally's birthday
The paints had been a hit
"Fun " Ari said they said
I showed-up early and eager
Then found the energy did not flow as easily with them
As it did in my mind
I had overlooked getting to know two people
But in moments we were romping and squealing
With puppy dogs and kids
The floor is always the best playground
After dinner we played nine-year old word games
Then the paints came out
Soon we four had masks of swirls and dots
Ari making splendid designs on her halves of both girls faces
My strokes clumsy everyone agreed
We took pictures
All combinations
Tongues out
Carnations behind our ears
On the love seat
Between Ari and Sarah
My arms around them both
Sally directing us into absurd poses
Family energy overwhelmed me
Yet not my family
Later in the evening after goodnight hugs from the girls
Ari and I laid on pillows on the floor
Listening to Mozart's requiem
Our bodies seemed drawn together
Each move made by one echoed by the other like lovers in bed
Time to leave
"I need you" came running out of my mouth
Before I could think about what I was saying
About how she might feel
About anything
We sat in her car after Sunday Services at the Center
About to part for the last time
Before her flight to Bali the next morning
Now we sat in silence
Our only conversation my cough from the flu
I had outrun until I could run no further
Caught in a frenzy of my own making
I could sense Ari's distress but was not able to address it
Locked in my cycle of need
For someone to make me feel better
As our friendship deepened
My life-long ache gradually awakened
Arching and stretching from its season of slumber
Still hazy and mostly numb
Yet already forceful enough to threaten my mind's reason
To myself I thought
"We're friends
    Wonderful friends
    Scorpion's Tail under control
    Dedicated to clearing her path
    To never set her on a course
    Where she might have to choose
    Between her husband and The Path"
To push my reasonable mind into blurting a lover's lament
"I need you"
When we were not lovers
Had no plans to be lovers
She insistent her marriage was sacrosanct
I worried myself
The long moments passed in single file
Marching somewhere out of sight
She squeezed my hand
Still silent
Then "You only think you do"
How could I answer?
My ache--with no permission to exist--was deepening
Friends do not "need" each other in this way
She said she had better go
I wished her a good trip
We hugged good-bye and I kissed her cheek
Then she was gone
I was left alone
With my friendship for her
With my heart
In pieces at my feet
My work with myself for her over the past year in jeopardy
I drove home
Walked on the beach
Barely thankful for the warm winter day
Later that evening while I read pabulum
She called
She told me she did not want to leave for her trip
As we parted
She told me she was not comfortable with me needing her
She talked about our friendship
As though it were a relationship
I could just speak and kept saying
" I do not want to talk like this
    Over the phone
    What about Robert?"
Fearing he would overhear
Fearing he would be threatened by the tone of our friendship
I refused to pour out my heart
To tell her how I hurt
How I needed her
How I did not want to endanger her marriage
But needed her
Needed more time with her
Wanted more time with her
I refused to tell her on the phone
While he might stumble across
Our sharing
My sharing
Too late to see each other before her flight
Early the next day
We hung-up
Both miserable
I feeling like she was pulling back from me
Like we were breaking-up a relationship not yet formed
I was unsure what she felt
But her suffering was clear in her voice
The week passed in a wash of misery
By the weekend I was more numb than anxious
Monday came
She was to be back but did not call that night
Disappointed I held off from calling her
How would she return?
Tuesday more silence
I was pulled between anger and agony
Wednesday evening I called
Not able to wait longer
Sarah answered “No!  Mommy was not home!"
Her tone of voice shouting
"Mommy should be here with me with our family!"
She and Sally and Robert were having dinner
I felt uncomfortable with my discomfort
With my need
Did not want Sarah to understand
"I won't interrupt your dinner" I said
Getting off the phone without even telling her
To say hello for me to the others
Or to wish her Happy Thanksgiving
The next afternoon
Ari called
Fully there
My friend
She had missed her flight
Gotten the time mixed-up
Then was caught on Guam in the typhoon
Two days of no electricity
No water
Staying with friends of distant friends
Fun and exciting
She stopped by the next afternoon
Brought me Bali place mats
My request
And a rich golden brown silk shirt
Hand-dyed batik
I was sure I would never wear
We laid on my bed
In the afternoon
The way we had in Minnesota in my hotel room
Fully clothed holding each other
Bodies an inch apart
She told me she had missed me terribly
Had thought of me constantly
Feeling a darkness with her the whole trip
From the way we parted
Until Guam
Until the typhoon
Until her unexpected delay
Then she was able to shake the feeling
To clear herself
She was in my arms
My friend
With unspoken love flowing between us
Whatever I had gone through was history
Forgotten the moment I saw her
Forgotten the moment I touched her

Soon after Ari returned
Robert left for a business trip
To be away nine days
Occasional before-bed phone calls became nightly
The next Thursday evening after Thanksgiving
The girls were with friends
Robert gone
I was invited to Ari's home for dinner
I knocked on her door
Holding seven white roses
She was enchanted
The dinner
Given with love
The food not quite simple enough
For my picky system
A feast of beauty and taste for anyone else
I gave nothing but praise
To her
To dinner
She showed me the house
Rented as they rebuilt their home
We watched the sunset from the lanai
Until I got too cold
We laid on cushions
Listening to Mozart again
And Vivaldi
Until I shivered
Flu still lingering
Finally asking for a blanket
Ari knew of my health problems
Knew I had been cold in Minnesota
Did not know
How easily I became chilled
How serious to my health being less than toasty could be
Especially with illness already peeking out from the covers
The delightful evening ended with a warm long hug good-bye
She walked to the end of the drive
Watching as I drove off
Both smiling smiles of love under the moonlight
Unspoken love
The next night after Laureen's class
She came to my house to cuddle with me
Talking of feelings when she dared
So full of hunger for real love
So full of longing for real affection
So closed to sharing her feelings
Her real self
With anyone including herself
I felt my heart opening wider and
Letting it be
Standing a vigilant watch over my Scorpion's Tail
She told me of her Asian childhood
Summers in the mountains
Play for her
In the forest alone
Even when around people
Classical music and literature
Loves for her
Her passion for opera
Known to me
A mystery to me
Opera was my grandmother's living room floor
Her warbling to the Saturday afternoon broadcast
While I winced
Killing toy soldiers
No television in Ari's childhood
No rock 'n roll
No fun it seemed to me
No nurturing of spontaneity
In a culture dedicated to continuing tradition
At the expense of the individual
At the expense of freedom
She left late
The last hour spent rubbing her back
Talking in the low tones of lovers
I walked beside her car
As she drove slowly out to the street
From parking behind my apartment
She stopped just before the sidewalk and looked up at me
The still bright moon glistening in her eyes
"Goodnight" she said
I almost said "Goodnight"
Instead I leaned into her car
Closed my eyes
Kissed her on the lips
Her dry lips pressed together
"I love you" I said
Pulling back out of the car
Before she slapped me
Shocked at what I had done
Rejoicing at what I had done
She looked straight ahead
At the traffic flowing by on the Ala Wai and said
"I have been so afraid to hear that"
Then she looked into my eyes again
The unpinning of her carefully guarded heart
Reflected in her eyes
Reaching out to me
Closing off to me
The struggle between her family and heart
So visible in her rich brown eyes
Invited out again to her house
Arriving in time to hug the girls goodnight
After tickling and laughing and smiling admonitions from Ari
We talked late into the night
The topic of love carried in her warmth
Her gentle heart soothing my fears without words
As our conversation died out and the music ended
We lay along side one another
The night softened by the hour as though the last log
On an imaginary fireplace was breaking into embers
I kissed her
Lips together
Then again
Then not again
Leaving soon after without comment or discussion
Wondering another time just what I had risked
Less than a week later at my apartment
Sharing our hearts after a Dream Workshop
Her seeking solutions to her spiritual confusion
I offering nothing of my own but neutrality
Trying to get out of the way
So Spirit could give her whatever It chose
Our talk died out as before
Stretched across my bed after massaging her shoulders
We reached for each other
Touching and holding back in one breath
I leaned toward her watching her eyes blur as I neared
Wondering what she was thinking
My lips met hers
Could feel her hold back her touch with tenderness
Then felt her response slowly grow
We pulled back at the same time
To look softly into the other's eyes
Feeling our hearts' loud cry
Then we kissed again
A kiss which grew into a full kiss
Melting into each other's arms
Our lips leading a deeper opening of our hearts
Energy flowing even and smoothly
As lover's arms held us both
Lovers who only kiss
"He never kisses me" she told me later
Burying her head into my chest
I was shocked
She felt it
"He just doesn't like to kiss" she said
A long pause later
Our pulses in harmony
She looked softly into my eyes
From so close I had to pull back to focus
"You can have my kisses" she whispered
Robert returned
Our late night phone calls ended
Christmas came
Friends of hers visited
I saw less of Ari through the holidays
Still in contact when she could
One sparkling Saturday evening
Spent with Sarah and Sally
Mexican food
A movie
Carnival Carnival
Racing from game to game
"No one ever brings us here"
Home to wait-up for Ari and Robert
Returning from their opera group
Feeling awkward
Wondering what Robert thought of my presence
Their homecoming almost awoke me
Did he think I was the new baby-sitter?
Outside with Robert not in sight
Ari said goodnight tenderly
During lonely days and evenings
I shopped for presents for the girls
For Ari
For other friends
For family
Grateful my mother had suggested
We just send cards this year
I carefully assembled a gift box full of
Hair bands
Play money
Little purses
Little pens
A few gemstones
For the girls in their favorite colors
For Ari
Earrings and the Far Side calendar
Writing little cards on each present
To Sarah
"Princess with a golden heart"
To Sally
"Bubbling fountain of love and mischief"
To Ari on the calendar
"Silly lessons"
On the earrings
"Love always"
The girls read their cards out loud
In front of Ari and Robert and holiday visitors
Ari later told me I was a hit
At my home Christmas night
Ari opened the Silly Lessons present
Kissed the shiny purple card twice
Leaving imprints of her lips
Then kissed me until we almost forgot about other presents
She gave me a suitcase in a huge box
Which had sat in my small apartment
For three days until she came over that night
She liked the earrings
I felt relieved
Jewelry always a mystery to me
More kisses
Talk of not making love
Of my warning that sex outside of marriage
Weakens the bonds between husband and wife
She told me of her conversation with Robert
In October before the trip to the World Wide
When she ask him if he had ever had an affair
His response
Was to turn red and hang his head
While sitting on the bed
And say without looking at her
"I need to keep this area of my life private
    I will explain it to you someday"
I was appalled yet said nothing
Not wanting to be the one to say
"Can't you see what that means!"
If I were just a friend with no other feelings for her
I would have
I ask her what she thought
"Either he has or he hasn't
    I don't know"
I struggled to keep quiet
Then melted away as she kissed me
Her soft touch reaching my heart
"I'm so glad
    We're kissing
    I've missed this for so long" she whispered in my ear
Brushing her lips from mine up my cheek
Returning moments later
She came in the morning
I stayed home from work
She came after
Dropping Robert at the airport for a trip to the Kauai saloon
A bright winter Tuesday
A slight coolness in the island air
Cold to me
The rest of the world busy at 10:00 in the morning
She pulled into the driveway
Smiling her smile of beauty
Light with joy
She was happy to be away from everything
Happy to be with me
Laughing at nothing and
With no other place to relax in my small apartment
We rolled on the bed
Tickling each other
My spots easy to find
Hers a challenge
"I'd better not wrinkle this
    Do you have something I could put on?" she asked
Tugging at her pressed white blouse
I searched through my closet
Finding the brown silk shirt she brought me from Bali
Perfect for her
She went into the bathroom
Returned in a minute
Wearing the shirt and laying her folded top and pants
On my desk
As she came back to my bed
She stretched into my arms
Her lips meeting mine
Before the rest of her body touched me or the blanket
"Your kisses melt me" she said
I rubbed her shoulders
Her knots of tension ran up into her neck
"Too much computer?"
"That and too much complaining
    He's getting so bad
    I told him last night
    If he didn't change
    I would leave him in five years"
"Five years!" I said then shut up
Such a long time seemed to make her threat meaningless
But I did not want to add my opinion to her distress
"Has it always been like this?"
"He's not as negative as his father
    But yes always"
She thought for a moment
The two furrows between her eyebrows pinched hard together
"I was very self-confident
    When I met him but
    The first two years of our marriage
    He criticized everything little thing I did
    I thought often then that
    I would leave him someday"
"And your self-confidence?"
"You already know about that
    The waver you hear in my voice you've mentioned
    That you've said sounded like a deep uncertainty
    You're right"
I stroked the back of her neck in silence
Then said "Why do you stay with him?"
Wondering if she was ready to open up
She looked at me
A gentle tear almost forming in the corner of her eye
"I don't know
    The children I suppose
    My commitment
    To our partnership
    For life"
I kissed her softly
Her lips trembling as we touched
Then she responded with a fire I had not felt in her before
My hand slipped under the hem of her shirt
As easily as brushing back my hair in the wind
Feeling her smooth skin stretched tight over her ribs
She shivered
I shivered
Then I ran my hand around to her back
As she leaned on top of me
Stroking her spine
I let my hand drift down over her cotton panties
Following the swell of her hips
Our kiss continued soft and wet
Learning more about each other
I rolled her over onto her back
Sunlight danced across her
Gleaming from her cheek
Highlighting her hard nipples under the silk shirt
"I love you"
"I love you too"
The first time she had responded in kind in the same moment
I struggled with my desire for her
With my commitment to clear her path
Not cluttered it
We talked about her marriage
She told me she had never been happy
With her husband as a lover
"He just satisfies himself" she said
My amazement flared
How she could be with him?
I wished in a primal way to have met her
Before she married this insensitive man
Then all thought subsided in the nearness of her
I touched her face
Smoothed the silk shirt over her breasts
Feeling her nipples
Feeling her arch into my hand
Soon the shirt was on the desk, too
She lay on her back
I lay on my side next to her
Marveling at the luster of her breasts
Of her belly
Of the roundness
Which tucked away between her legs
Pushing up under white cotton
She began to take off my shirt
I helped her
She held me to her
My chest feeling her breasts beneath
The warm smoothness of her against me
I kissed her
From her nose to the swell below her belly
Stroking the insides of her thighs
"Take them off" she said
I moved down between her legs
She lifted her hips and her white cotton slid away
So softly I touched her
Felt her respond
Licked her
Barely touching skin
Then she motioned me up
"Take off your pants
    And lie next to me"
"Are you sure?" I asked
"Just lie next to me and pull the blanket over us"
I did
My hardness pressed into her hip
We lay together
Nothing separating our bodies
As we kissed our hearts joined as our lips
I moved on top of her feeling her heat beneath me
My commitment to anything else other than being with her
In this moment
Just before I entered her
So slowly
She said "No regrets"
Two nights later
Reverberations of Tuesday morning still unsettling me
She called after her class
Inviting her over in a breath
I walked to my car in back to move it to the street
So she could have the discretion
Of parking away from the many eyes of the many people
She and Robert knew driving along the Ala Wai
In steady streams of gossip-searching posses
As I walked down the narrow black-top drive
I thought of Ari's words
When I walked her this way Tuesday morning
After our intimacy
After being one
"This may never happen again" she had said
I nodded "Of course"
Not knowing how I felt
Knowing I loved her beyond what we shared
But may not share again
I knew we had stepped-up our karmic pace
Did not know what new chunk of effect
May now lay in our paths
A mountain side loosened from its perch
Waiting to be overcome
Or overcome us
A challenge of our--my--own making
Then she was there in my arms
Her warm kisses saying she truly held "No regrets"
When our passion mounted
When we were a step away
From knowing more of each other again
She said "I can't while Robert's in town"
I shifted my energy
Taking a long moment to adjust
To ride the momentum
To a soft tenderness
To the love we shared as
Lovers who had made love but once
Lovers who would not make love often
First and third Friday nights together
Became oases in the lengthening days apart
Ari was able to get out of the house
Was available
The first and third Friday night classes we shared
Now preceded by first and third Thursday nights
Ari able to get out of the house
For her Satsang class with Shana
Visiting me afterwards
We arrived in the same minute from
Different directions
Different homes
Different experiences
For Laureen's Friday class about prophecy
Learning--perhaps--to read the inner records of Soul
If and when it was in the best interest
Of the reader
Of the whole
The ability when developed to be revered as a spiritual gift
Used only with inner guidance not as a circus act
Misuse quickly resulting in problems for the misuser
This class was laying a broad foundation
For spiritual growth
For the class members to develop an awareness of a gift
Mastered only by the patient
Mastered only by the pure of heart
Sometimes tedious
Sometimes esoteric
Laureen's class were always full of joy and inner unfolding
This Friday I sat fidgeting
Watching Ari across the room not watching me
Not sitting beside me to avoid rumors
After class we walked to our cars
"Would you like to go eat" I asked
She said nothing until we stood next to her car
Then looked into my eyes and said more than words can say
"Or come over" I added
"Come over" she said
We left my car in the parking lot under the big tree
Drove slowly in near silence holding hands
A short moment later it seemed
She said with regret "I'd better go"
After shedding hesitation about any conditions
Outside my apartment
Outside each other arms
After loving slowly
Oblivious to the clock
Consumed by the waves of love building between us
Then it was late
She hurried
Brushing her hair
Touching lipstick to cover the warmest lips
I have ever known
Lips which need nothing but to be kissed
Sunday she was shaky and slightly distant
I tried to draw her out
Then eased off
Feeling her strung so tightly
I too was unsteady
The rush into intimacy
My failed commitment
Risking her steps along The Path
All caved in on me
Keeping me so busy I did not notice
Old sensitivity about fumbling vulnerability issues
Arise from the past
She left in a hurry after Service for a family outing
Monday I called
Robert answered saying "Here she is"
I ask if we could meet soon
To talk
She sounded better and suggested tea
We sat in her car talking
Never getting out to go into the restaurant
Her feelings still a jumble
Her love for me unquestioned
Asking me "Why does it have to be this way?"
I had no answers
Only my own emotional turmoil to unravel
To try to sit with
Staying with pain not a strength of mine
Our conversation ran hard
Softened for caressing moments
Then dashing off again into the limits of our experiences
So different
As an hour passed we found our harmony again
Harmony with each other
Harmony with our newly created situation
But it did not feel new
It felt an extension of many times together in the past
Both of us had gotten glimpses of our previous relationships
In dreams
In spiritual exercises
I killed her once
My girlfriend chased her off once
She spurned me when I was a man
She left me pregnant when I was a woman
Partners in adventures ending badly
Neither of us glimpsing a time when our love worked out
Always grasping through the distortion of desperation
Settling for pain
Unable to reach out for love
"Maybe we will get it right this time" I said
She nodded "Yes"
Then clouded over as she struggled with what that might mean
The core of her old consciousness lying at her feet
Looking up with eyes as sad as Old Vicky's
The Cocker Spaniel
My granddaddy had to lock in the basement each night
Because she vomited every morning
Ari's old consciousness bound her to pleasing others
At her own expense
Binding her so tightly
To the biological father of her children
She now gasped for breath
I held her
Feeling her struggle so
Feeling what she was going through
But not knowing
She did not have words yet
I did not know her well enough to understand
What was so unfathomable to me
We parted on a clear note
The moon shining white on many palm trees
Where we had walked along the beach
Having given up on thoughts of the restaurant
Our talk too intimate for public places
We parted with so much love I felt dizzy driving home
Her touch remained fresh on my cheek
My lips still feeling hers brushing mine so gently
"Our relationship has lost it pureness" she said "It seems tarnished"
We stepped around a large woman carry armfuls of balloons
"We both are at risk now” she continued, struggling to find her words
“Before we became intimate we weren't vulnerable
    To each other
    Or to others around us"
We walked quickly through the exhibition hall
The annual Family Expo at Blaisdell teeming around us
A barely subdued carnival
Acutely contrasting our intimate conversation
"I would not change anything for a moment
    But the sense of lose disturbs me"
"What have you lost?" I asked
“I'm not sure
    The way we are now is wonderful
     But there is a perfectness which is missing"
I smiled
We hurried through the people and
Dodged the traffic in the parking garage
On our way to do some errands
To bring back lunch for Robert
As he stayed behind manning their booth
Amazed and shaken whenever I met him
This time was no different
Amazed he did not pick-up the tone of Ari and my relationship
Amazed he was so charming
Amazed I could look him in the eye and act naturally
Shaken I could look him the eye
Shaken by his other energy
The scalpel-sharp critical side of him
Which ambushed without warning
Shaken at what might happen when he found out
For now I was a family friend
With a growing desire to be family
Ari's friend
The girl's silly buddy
Fielding Ari's questions
Watching her struggle to understand her experiences
We got into her car
Drove three blocks then pulled over to the curb to kiss
To say hello as lovers
"Spirit gives a taste of Its sweetness
    Then often withdraws
    To see if Soul will notice Its absence
    Soul then has to choose
    Between standing still
    Bleating at what is lost
    Or to work to find the bliss Itself "
She looked at me as we sat on King Street
Saturday afternoon traffic passing by
Brushing my cheek she said
"Sometimes when you talk
    I want to tell you to shut-up
    To tell you that you talk too much
    But after I leave you
    Your words echo through my head again and again
    I learn from them
    And I feel your presence even more closely"
We kissed again
Then separated slowly
She ask me to drive
As I got back into the car from the driver's side
She squeezed my hand
Not letting go until we reached our first stop
"Would anyone like some tea?"
I said this wondering what the hell I was doing
The long Saturday was over
The Expo not a success for Robert and Ari's booth
The wrong show for his line of beauty products
For her imported jewelry
I was very tired and chilled in the February night air
As we stood around our three cars
Ari and I had been together away from the show
On and off throughout the day and evening
I wanted to be with her alone again before she went home
Hoping Robert would say he was too tired
For us to have some tea without him
That he would go on home
A wild hope
A desperate reach for her
"Sure" he said "Why don't we all go to TGI Fridays for a drink"
Not what I had in mind
But I was caught in my trap
At the restaurant I sat across from Robert
He motioned Ari to sit next to me
I wondered if this was his way to be polite
We talked business
A little spirituality
Some nonsense
Being with Robert felt like work
Sitting next to Ari felt wonderful though tenuous
He described a business venture
In which he had invested six-figures plus
No contract
No patents
His partner the inventor eccentric and uneven
Able to walk any time he chose I pointed out
The project was stuck
Cash about to run out
I ask him about their marketing approach
About their business plan
They had neither
The situation seemed ripe for a major lose
I wondered if Robert
Avoided bringing up the subject of paperwork to his partner
With such determination to avoid conflict
More comfortable
Writing checks in a blind hope the project would work out
Than facing disharmony
I outlined some business principals
I had learned the hard way
He said I made sense
I offered to share past business plans with him
We said goodnight with an unsettledness
I reverberated with an old familiarity not quite placed and
Not enjoyed
Watching Ari and Robert
Drive away in separate cars to the same home
Pulled me in different directions
I did not want to break up a marriage which could grow
But could I?
Can anyone be responsible for another's choices?
I knew I craved Ari heart to heart as Soul
Being with her with her husband was a jarring experience
She has an edge around him I do not feel when with her alone
Her warmth receded
Fun was missing
I drove home sad and disquieted
I heard her car and opened my door
As she stopped in the drive six feet from where I stood
Smiling her smile of Beauty
"Shall I park in back" she asked
"Of course"
I followed behind her watching her drive to my parking stall
She closed her car door
Slung her purse over her shoulder and walked up to me
Standing inches from my face
Eyes looking far into mine
I could barely resist the pull between us
I wanted to run across tree tops to her
Pick her up in my arms
Carrying her off in the winds
Instead we hovered close
Smiles growing on our lips
We leaned toward each other gently
Lips touching
We stood kissing
No other part of our bodies touching
Yet as much one as when making love
A moment later we burst into laughter
Grabbed each other
Wrestled standing up until we almost fell over
Then hurried back to my apartment
It was Thursday night
Her class had ended early
She had called to see if I wanted company
A formality of hers since she was expected
Hoped for
I made tea
She changed into the brown silk shirt
We curled up together on my bed
She began to talk about her frustration
With the slow sales of her jewelry at the Expo
How she had not been able to make any headway
In marketing them
How Debbie was not working out as her partner
Ari snuggled against me rubbing her head against my chest
My heart opened to her still more deeply
I wanted to help her find the sense of self
I knew she had buried under years of criticism
Help her ignite her fire
"Maybe you need a rep" I said
"Maybe" she said "Find me one"
"Okay maybe I'll be your partner"
"I would love that" she said drawing closer
As she kissed me scenes flared in my imagination
Flashes of she and I married
The kids ours
She and I traveling the world buying for her business
As I wrote my next book
Her hands brought me back to the moment
Fantasies shimmered away
The moment more riveting than any fantasy I could dream
We said good-night after midnight
Walking lightly back to her car
The ground giving with our steps
Soft as clouds
"Tomorrow night?" I asked
"Yes" her lips shining with fresh lipstick
"I'll park on the street when I get home
You don't need to call
I'll be here waiting for you"
Ari planning to pick me on her way to our Friday class
I bent into her car
Kissed her gently
Then watched as she drove slowly out of the drive
Part of me went with her
Part of her stayed with me
She waved as she turned onto the Ala Wai
Her taillights disappearing quickly
I closed the door to my apartment
Full of her
Lonely for her
I sat on the bed where we had just made love
Tears falling on the tile floor
Feeling so many conflicting feelings
So vulnerable
So in love with Beauty
"I called some reps today" I said
She brightened for a moment
Then sagged again leaning against my chest
More down than I had ever seen her
Our Friday class with Laureen had been fascinating
But too long
For two people squirming to be together
Two people with a too-early curfew
Ari was lying on my bed still dressed
Not able to stay long
Sliding into depression
"What did they say?"
"Some were encouraging
    A couple not so
    I'll make more calls Monday
    Then maybe you should talk to them"
"Why don't you just set-up appointments"
"Do you want me to go with you?"
We lay together in silence for several eternities
Finally I said “I've never seen you so down
    What are you thinking about Beauty?"
"I don't know that I'm thinking" she said "I'm just numb"
"Was Robert upset this morning?"
"He was cold and distant
    It feels awful when the family is not in harmony"
"When is it in harmony?" I asked
 She thought then said "When I do what he wants me to"
"How often is that?"
"Lately not very often"
" You and I have different definitions of harmony"
I could feel her breathing as I talked
"To me harmony is when each person
Is giving
Doing what is generally in their best interest
And willing to compromise
So the whole can be more than the sum
Of their individual energies and directions
But when one person bends to another's will
What kind of harmony can grow?"
She remained silent
"What kind of harmony has grown
    In your home these past eleven years?" I asked
She did not respond
"Am I talking too much again?"
I rolled her onto her back and looked into her eyes
Tears hung at the corners
"It's OK to cry Beauty" I said and kissed her lightly
Then held her
A long time later I felt her sobs begin
She cried in soft sounds heaving gently
Shaking once for several seconds
She rolled away from me
Reached for a Kleenex
Blew her nose and
Buried her head in her hands face down on the bed
I stroked her hair wishing desperately I could take her pain
Then canceled the thought
Giving it to Spirit before I made life harder for her
After her tears dried she said
"He was so awful last night
    I almost told him about us"
"Why didn't you?"
"I don't know
    Him touching me is getting unbearable"
A picture of Robert making love to Ari
His wife
Shot through me
I let it go
Knowing holding on to the image would only burn me
"I feel so lost" she said "I wish I could just
Crawl into a hole and die"
I stroked her hair
Rubbed her back
Sensing how she felt
Knowing how Spirit works
How It reveals Its glory then pulls away
Leaving Soul to flounder
Until we discover Divine Love is within each of us
I kept my thoughts in silence
Letting Ari have her experience
More than a little amazed at my control
"Robert has to go out of town next week"
"Great" I said
She smiled
"For how long?" I added
"A week maybe ten days"
I said nothing more not wanting to push a button
I knew she wanted to see me as much as I her
But she had the girls to think of
Had to run the house and business by herself
She snuggled closer to me and played with my hair
The blanket wrinkling under her as she shifted
We laid under crystal blue noontime skies in a park deep in Manoa
Sunday noon after Service
Having left as quickly as grace allowed
No matter how high or low she is
Ari is grace
Moving with a sureness I thought only reserved for ballerinas
I reached for the carrot juice and knocked it over
Happy to discover the plastic lid was on
She wrapped a nylon covered leg around me and
Reached up for a kiss
Getting to my lips before the juice
I did not mind
"There is only one imperfection in our world at present
Can you guess?" I whispered into her ear
"Our situation?"
"Our situation at the moment is heaven"
"Silly me" she said  "You'll have to tell"
"Your pantyhose" I shouted to the sky
" Hush someone will hear you "
    The old guy jogging around the park?
    Think he cares?"
She laughed  "Why do you dislike them so?"
"Because they imprison and distort
    Imagine a pudgy-faced burglar with a stocking mask
    That's what your Shelly looks like
    Most ignoble"
Ari shrieked with laughter
"And most inaccessible"
I said running my hands up her skirt
Her laughter turned to murmurs as we kissed again
I felt her keys on the blanket and said
"In fact I'm tempted to liberate her!"
Holding up the small Swiss army knife on her key chain
"You wouldn't dare" she taunted me
I opened the scissors from the knife
Pulled up a pucker of nylon from her thigh and
Held the scissor blades over it
We looked at the scene on her thigh as the drama mounted
Then back at each other
Then with a moment more of savoring
I closed the little scissor’s blades in a swift movement
The steel made a crisp sound as it cut through her stocking
A large circle opened on her leg
She looked down at the hole
Shook her head
Then howled with laughter
I joined her feeling relief she saw the humor
Surprised I had done it
I cut several more holes in her stocking legs
As we rolled around tickling and laughing
Finally collapsing in each other's arms
"I better go" she said after a while of laying together
Loving our closeness
"Yeah I know
    Too bad"
"Sure is"
She began to pick up the blanket and food
"Your legs look great"
I said admiring the pattern of holes in her nylons
"Wonderful texture
    See how much your legs want freedom
    Too bad I didn't get to liberate Shelly"
Laughing she sat down with the little scissors and
Cut off her nylons stocking legs near her crotch
When she stood her skirt covered the tattered remains nicely
"You should be locked up" she said kissing me
We walked back to the car arms around waists
Laughing and talking
Feeling so close
So much in harmony
Ari and I met with a manufacture's rep the following Tuesday
Liked the people and agreed to bring them samples
She told Robert that night
I had found her a good professional rep and
I was going to replace Debbie in the import business
Becoming her new partner
Told him?
Asked him?
I was not there so I do not know
From seeing them together I imagine she mixed her approach
Robert's response was favorable
Perhaps too occupied with preparing for his trip
Perhaps unconcerned
Perhaps feeling powerless to railroad our friendship
Whatever he felt he left the next morning
Ari was in my arms after dropping him at the airport
Both of us ignoring work to be together
With Robert out of town
We talked every night after the kids went to bed until late
Sometimes Sally would be nearby during the day when I called
And she would want to talk to me
We had great silly conversations about
Nose-picking and belly buttons
What she did that day
The sound of cockroaches crunching in gecko's mouths
Often grossing-out Ari listening nearby
Sarah and I did not have a rapport on the telephone
So when she answered
I got one syllable answers to my questions
I came by for dinner or after dinner
Snuggling with Ari after the kids went to bed
After Gudrun went out with her neighbor boyfriend
Keeping our ears tuned
For the sounds of approaching footsteps or car doors
I was taking Robert's place in the household and I loved it
When he returned after a week I suffered the loss with a mixture of grace tears and demands
I was still at the house often
Helping Ari organize and inventory her earring stock
Being around Robert was tough
He liked to complain about things and people
Making my skin crawl
Looking him in the eye was hard knowing what I knew
I was forced to be as friendly and natural as I could
Not wanting to endanger the balance
Which permitted Ari and me to be intimate
I gave away my personal space
Being as unobtrusive and neutral as possible
Watching he and Ari interact was painful
Hard enough to see her has a couple with him
Harder still to feel her sharp energy
Toward him and sometimes the kids
Horrible to see how he treated her and the kids
No affection
No support
Kidding at his family's expense
No real communication
Often I left before I had to
Just to get away
Being with Ari away from him was golden
Flowing together so naturally
A week after he returned he left again for two weeks
I was around the house so much I practically moved in
Always wanting to be with Ari as lovers
The kids began to protest in small ways
"How come Zak is around when Daddy's gone?"
"He's around when your father's here too Sar"
"Yes but"
"We are working together sweetie
    Don't worry about it"
But Sarah did worry about it
All four of us worried about it
One Sunday after spending the afternoon and evening together
Wanting to sleep
But sleep with Ari not alone
Knowing that would be impossible
Unwilling to leave until we could be together alone
My patience slipped
At the dinner table I kept looking at Ari
Giving token attention to the girls
But finding Sal always looking at me
Watching me watch her mother
After dinner I dropped several hints
About the girls going to bed
When Sal came to me in her pajamas to say goodnight
I was reading the paper
Hiding from reality and my frustrations
"I always like this comic" She said pointing to "Blondie"
"Would you read it to me?"
"Another time Sal
     You need to go to bed now "
The unpracticed father in me
Losing a wonderful opportunity to give to a tender heart
To show I really care about her
Which I do deeply
She kissed me goodnight dutifully
And padded off to bed
I returned a shouted good-night from Sar and waited for Ari
When she came to me she was reserved
Knowing she was tired I rubbed her shoulders
Asking little questions about herself
Her viewpoint on the day's happenings
About her feelings
As always I asked more questions that I got answers
Then she shared with me what the girls had said
Before going to sleep
"If you leave us for him I'll hate you"
"I'm telling Daddy how much Zak's here when he's gone"
"If he takes you away from us I'll hate him forever"
"He doesn't like us
Just you"
I was shocked
Ari said she reassured and scolded them for such thoughts
I felt as awful as she did
I remembered my pre-occupation with her at dinner
My unwillingness to reach out to Sally earlier
I drove home that night feeling lost
I had thought the kids were my ally
Having fun with me
Better than being crabbed-at by their father
How wrong I was
The next time I saw them
I waited until they both were in their room to talked to them
I wanted to open my heart completely
To tell them how much I loved them both
How much I loved their Mommy
But not wanting to freak them out
I struggled to tell them what I felt without lying to them
I told them Ari and I were best friends
That I get tired and impatient sometimes
I apologized to Sally for not reading the comics to her
I told them I was their friend
Anytime anywhere no strings attached
And told them they did not have to be my friend
That was optional
They hugged me and said it was all right
They were embarrassed
Such warm tender hearts
I finished the talk feeling a little awkward but relieved
Until I reminded myself how hard it is
For children to confront adults
With their uncomfortable feelings so often unclear
Reminded myself that these girls
Could have little or no training
In expressing their negative feelings
Growing up in a household
Where their parents repressed so many feelings
I began waiting for Ari to call me
Began being around their house less often
Sometimes I came by after the kids went to bed
Or were at their cousins for the evening
Not wanting them to be alarmed
Ari and I planned for her next Bali trip in April
Wondered if Robert would let me go with her
Decided I needed to go as her partner
Decided she would ask him when he got back
Dreamed about how wonderful it would be
To be together for a week
In the midst of so much uncertainty
A vision returned
Seen once before
Three months before meeting Ari
A new white apartment full of light
But not in a high rise
I began tasting
Feeling it again so tangibly
I often found myself surprised it was not here yet
Yet cash flow did not tell me to look for a new home
This first happened eighteen months ago lasting for a few weeks
Then one Saturday I packed-up
Re-arranged and cleaned my apartment
Which then became lighter, whiter and new to me
In the midst of this March with Ari
Trying to not neglect work
But spending business hours together
Experimenting with wholesaling to retail outlets
Tangled in the emotional fabric of her family
Sometimes strangling in my web of karma
I wondered what my vision could mean this time
Each time it popped up
The first night Robert was back Sally said to him at dinner
"How come you let Zak spend so much time with Mommy
    She's your wife!"
I was amazed to hear he shrugged off his daughter's comment
Two days later Ari met me for a lunch and told me
Robert had agreed to our Bali trip
Agreed grudgingly
“Only if no one else knows about it
    Especially the kids" he had said
I danced around the table in the restaurant
Embarrassing Ari
Kissing her flushed cheek
We began planning for our time there
Where we would go
They had lots of mileage
So we agreed she would propose to Robert
They would get my ticket I would pay for her hotel room
We would have separate rooms of course
We talked about canceling the second room when we got there
We planned to double our marketing to stores before the trip
To get a feel for the market
Ari talked about opening a store herself
I thought it would be great for her
Then realized how tied down it could make her
And me perhaps if she became mine full time
If If If
The thought was never far from my mind
My heart always wanting her
The next several days were full of my work
The trip confirmed almost overnight
Trying to leave my borrowers' loan packages in good shape
While I was away on the trip
We were to leave in early April and return ten days later
With an eighteen hour layover in Guam on the way back
"I'm sorry I could not give you longer
Easter weekend is messing things up
Blocking out more than a week for mileage tickets"
Robert had said to Ari
Neither Ari nor I cared about the long layover
We cared only about having ten days together
Grateful it could happen at all
Gratitude comes easy when a gift is given
I stayed away from their house
Seeing Ari often during the day
As we repped her products outside the area our rep serviced
The weekend before we left
Ari and I were scheduled for a skit rehearsal at the Center
After Sunday Service
Surprised then concerned when she did not show up as planned
I left the Center the moment Service was finished
Calling her from a pay phone a block away
She answered saying she was holding on the other line
Having called the Center
Holding while someone looked for me
She sounded awful
I asked her if she was OK
Said I was worried that she had been in accident and
Was she coming for the rehearsal?
Blurting out my anxiety without giving her time to answer
She was silent then began crying
She said Robert knew about us
He had found out through his dream the night before
It confirming what he suspected but did not want to see
She asked if she could come over
"To the Center? " I cried suddenly unable to face anyone
    To your apartment"
"I'll go right home"
We hung-up and I stopped by the Center
Was told by three people she had called for me
I asked Michelle to please find someone else
We could not be at the rehearsal
Muttering apologies I left quickly
Raced home
Found the street full of cars and parked illegally
So Ari could park in my space
Waited and paced in and out of my door
Waited with heart beating madly
"What can happen now?
Will she leave him?
Will she tell me it is over between us?"
I said to myself neither thought feeling true
She drove up soon
Stopping in the driveway by my door
Looking at me with eyes wild with grief
I reached through the car window and stroked her cheeked
Kissed her gently
Then followed her car back to the parking space
I had left for her
When she got out of the car and I hugged her
She nearly fell
Trembling with fear and pain
In my apartment we laid together on my bed
Until she could talk
"He knows
    Has known for a long time
    Is so disappointed with me
    So hurt
    He feels for you
    Can understand how you feel
    But says it must stop"
I was moved by her description of his compassion
Surprised too not expecting it
"What's going to happen" I asked
"I don't know"
We lay together and talked
Our emotions running up and down
She cried then laughed
I held her
Then curled up in a ball and cried for her to not leave me
She said she would never stop loving me
She still hoped to go to Bali with me
"How?" I said incredulous
Tears falling
"We'll see"
She left
Her heart so heavy with pain
My heart dissolving
My two year old awakening to a bed of sharp needles
I cried all afternoon
Walked on the beach later tears blurring my vision
I called old friends in the evening reaching out for support
Something I did daily in my twenties
When I was young and emotionally reckless
Late that night unable to sleep
I wrote Robert a letter
Telling him of a love I felt for him
Which I only partially understood
Describing my pain after my father's suicide
Telling him that was the only time
I remember hurting as much as I did now
Explaining to him
I was committed to clearing the path for Ari when we met
Determined to not get in her way
To keep our relationship a friendship only
How we edged toward intimacy over many months
After seeing how hollow their marriage was
But their marriage was not the deciding factor
How Ari and I became lovers because
Our love grew beyond being able to hold back
I told him I would not stand in the way of his marriage
I would work to be only friends once again with Ari
I felt strong and clear writing to him
In touch with myself as Soul
Seeing all of us from a higher viewpoint
My two year old soothed by the inner love pouring through me
The letter grew into many pages
As I shared with him my spiritual experiences and
The principles I lived by
How growth and love were most important
Requiring a lot of work
How my love for Ari was unconditional
I encouraged him to push himself to grow with Ari
Since she was being stretched by Spirit
I shared my experience in counseling
Suggested he and Ari try it saying
"Everyone has problems and can benefit from some help"
I told him of learning to be more loving to myself
As I have opened to Spirit and how this work is never ending
I told him of my father
Of his refusing to work with his feelings
Of how gracious and charming he could be
Of how much he needed his kids
Of how much he hurt us all
Because he would not work on himself
I told Robert I was surprised
How much he reminded me of my father
How I hoped he would act more wisely than did my Dad
I told him I did not feel guilty
I felt love and pain
Which I tried to grow through with more love
I ended the letter by sending him a hug
"From one Soul to another"
The next two days were a living nightmare
Ari called me often
I told her about the letter wondering if I should mail it
"Wait" she said
Then we decided she should read it first
Neither of us wanting to make the situation worse
I went up and down
She went up and down
Robert lost his compassion
For me
For Ari
For my love
And went down
Swamped in his pain old and new
Jerking himself and Ari around
With one proclamation after another
She held fast to the claim we would become just friends again
That she wanted the time with me in Bali
To experience "true happiness"
Then she would try to work out their marriage
Saying that was the least he owed her
For twelve years of constant criticizing
He said he would change
She stopped by for a few minutes Monday morning
In tears
I held her until she settled down
Before she left she read my letter to Robert
Said it was a wonderful letter
But things were too unsure to know when to mail it
I was gallant and supportive to her one moment
While she was in my arms
Then pulling and childish a few hours later on the phone
Robert heard about my more noble side from Ari
As she lobbied to convince him we could be friends only
He struggled to convince himself of my spiritual virtues
My worst call with Ari happened Tuesday afternoon
Two days before we were supposed to leave
Two days after Robert found out about us
Not knowing if the trip was on
Not knowing what would happen next
Ari called me at work and I got angry
When I heard about Robert's flip remark
That they should use her as collateral for a loan
And if they couldn't pay I would get her
I called him "Asshole" and went downhill from there
My two year old crumbling into pain and fear
Pulling at her to choose me
To choose love and growth
To not go back to sleep
Late that evening Ari called
She told me Robert wanted to talk to me
He had taped our conversation that afternoon
Would I come up to their house?
She sounded like death
I could not say "No" to her
She told me to bring the letter
I wondered what kind of man would bug his own phone
The fifteen minute drive to their house
Felt as long and as bleak
As my three hour drive thirteen years earlier
From my apartment to my father's home
After my sister's call on the Sunday before Thanksgiving
Telling me Daddy was holding our step-mother at gun-point
I was the only one who had a key to his house
Would I come over please?
Thirty six hours later my father was dead
I hoped no one would die tonight
Not expecting it but aware I was taking a risk
Going to the home of my lover's husband
The local papers often recounting tales of passions flamed
And resulting assaults
Robert opened the door before I knocked
Ari was not in sight
The children were in bed I knew from her call
He explained he had to make a call to Europe
I asked if I should wait in the living room
He said "No" sharply
Then led me downstairs to their office
He apologized but explained it was important business and
Pointed to a chair in the middle of the room
A few feet away from his desk
I sat in the chair for a moment
Felt uncomfortable and exposed
Then pushed it aside and sat cross-legged on the carpet
Still holding the letter
Wondering if I was to talk to him alone
Then Ari came down the stairs and asked if I wanted tea
She looked as awful as she had sounded on the phone
I was cold
Said "Yes" and thanked her
She disappeared back up the stairs
While Robert talked in Swedish on the phone
I felt like a bug waiting to be squashed
My guts tight and hurting
Ari reappeared silently with three cups of ginseng tea
Sat on the chair I rejected
Ask if I wanted to sit on it
Then we waited for Robert to finish
Not knowing what had been decided between them
If anything
Left me wretched
Finally he hung up the phone and
Moved his chair into the open area where Ari and I sat
Ari said I had the letter
I gave it to him
Then we sat noiselessly watching him read it
The waiting was awful
I had to bail my emotional overload constantly
Robert clucked as he went through the pages of my letter
Clicking his tongue as he made check marks in the margin
Finally he finished
Took off his glasses and said
"Well Zak I don't know"
His voice grated
I had a hard time feeling any compassion for him
"You should have written it to both of us"
"What?" I said
"You should have written your letter to both Ari and I"
I could not believe my ears
Then remembered Ari's comments about him
Picking on little things while ignoring the real issues
He complained about me addressing my letter only to him
For several more minutes
I was amazed
If this was my competition for Ari all I had to do was wait
She finally told him enough was enough
He harrumphed and
Started going through his notes on the margins
My mind usually shuts down when I am angry
I could see the same thing happening to him
It was the first time I had watched it happen in another
I knew then without doubt
He was sitting on a huge pile of old pain
Buffeting him around whenever the garbage got stirred up
"I really thought you were a spiritual person Zak
If I had read this letter yesterday
But after hearing you on the phone today
I've got your call on tape you know
Would you like to hear?
It shows the real you Zak
You're just a phony after all"
I sat still on the floor looking up at him
My arms folded around my knees bent up in front of me
I wanted to look up at him
I wanted to stay vulnerable for Ari's sake
Knowing it would be too easy for me to clash with Robert
Sitting on a chair trying to get the upper hand
I let his words fly by
Seeing I would not get far tonight
His mind was made up
What was I there for?
To absorb punishment I decided
My mind drifted back to the last conversation
I had with my father
The evening of the day I drove to his home
When he was holding my step-mother at gun-point
When I arrived there no one was home
I went inside the house
Found Dad's old hunting rifle
His only weapon
And got out of there fast taking the gun
I waited until he and Joyce returned
Then drove by several times
Agonizing over just when I should go in
Terrorized about confronting my father
Something I had only tried three times in my life
Each time a miserable failure
Neither of us able to express our upsets constructively
Both of us unbearably miserable when not close to the other
He miserable with his old baggage
And his unwillingness to face himself
I miserable being close to him
Because he was in so much pain
And because I could not protect myself from his hurt
Loving my father was like hugging a fan
I got cut-up a lot
Being apart from him was worse
When I walked through the front door of his house
He looked up surprised and said
"Hi Zachary
    Nice to see you
    Didn’t expect you for a few more days"
Jay-Jay was watching TV
Said a quick "Hi" as she darted back toward their bedroom
Not acting like someone awaiting rescue
"We're just getting ready to watch Billy Graham
If you'd like to join us" my father said to me
Not something I would do on a good day
I said "No thanks Dad
    I need to talk to you about something"
His eyes narrowed
I went on before he could object
"I hear you've been holding Jay-Jay at gun-point"
My heart tore at my chest
Adrenaline pumped through me until I could barely think
"Zachary I am going to have to ask you to let this alone
    It’s our business"
"I can't do that Dad"
He got angry as only he could
"All right then come outside and I'll tell you"
His lips were tight
He waved his cigarette like a baton punctuating his words
I followed him outside
He stopped in the middle of the walk
His back to the two large fur trees guarding our yard
Which I had struggled to trim all through high school
Right on the very spot where the FBI had arrested me
Eight years and not many days earlier
For refusing induction into the Army
He told me about his Miracle
About how he was waiting for Jay-Jay to repent her adultery
Planning then to shoot her and himself
So they could go to heaven together
He said he had been shown that he did not need to kill her
Just be willing to make the sacrifice
Like Abraham's test with his son Isiah
"So everything is all right now" he said
I knew then I could do nothing more
Jay-Jay had not asked for protection
I had the gun in my car
The man who when he was twenty-one
Had told his proselytizing Christian mother
"Jesus is just like Santa Claus"
Was now watching Billy Graham and working Miracles
"I forgot my hat" I said
Running into the house then back out again
I passed by him too angry to look at his face or say good-bye
Before I got to my car I heard him say
"You act like you wish I had done it"
I yelled "No!"
The last thing I said to my father
The last time I saw him alive
In the physical body I knew so well and loved so dearly
As I drove away I realized how tired I was
How worn down I had been for years by his threats and pulling
Beginning before high school when I had heard periodically
"You're all I have son
    If anything happens to you I'll kill myself"
I did not wish him or Jay-Jay dead
But I was tired of his threats
"Shit or get off the pot Dad" I thought
Twenty-four hours later he did
Perhaps thinking of my father helped me
Put Robert in perspective
I came back to the present
To find he was trying to bargain with me for Ari
I could not have been more disgusted or revolted
What did she see in this man?
I looked at her
She seemed so far away
So miserable
I reminded myself this would not be anyone's finer moment
I worked consciously to keep Robert
And his accusatory off-the-issue rambling in perspective
Without feeling the panic of past confrontations
But I could not say much
No matter how many words I used
He was insisting I reconcile the person on the tape
Who pulled at Ari
Telling her Robert was awful for her
With the person who wrote the letter
Mixing spiritual principals with promises of non-intervention
I could not
It wasn't until two days later that
I saw my higher and lower self struggling
Saw my human consciousness pulling at Ari
And criticizing Robert
I as Soul could see the bigger picture
It is the struggle each of us goes through constantly
In varying degrees of awareness
I wish I had been able to tell Robert then
"Look I have good moments and bad moments
I am both those people and more"
I could not promise Robert
Ari and I would never be lovers again
That I would truly not stand in the way of their marriage
"I will try my best" I said
My words only exasperated him
"You people on The Path are all alike
You're rubber bands!" he yelled
Later Ari and I had a good laugh when she told me
Before I had arrived in response to his demands that
She assure him we would be just friends
She had said "I will try my best"
I told him that I saw him
As a man like myself with an old cache of pain
Which he expressed indirectly
By criticizing the world around him
I told him I thought he had a lot of work to do
And if he really wanted Ari back fully
"You will have to work your ass off"
"Yeah yeah I will change" he said
I left soon after
He actually smiled and held out his hand
Appearing to me so unable to sit with discomfort
That he sought reconciliation with me
His wife's lover
"Good luck" to both of you I said and left
Ari later told me how much that hurt her
Did she think I was saying I leave you two here as a couple?
I never ask her what she thought that night
Too much happened too fast
I know she did not ask me to rescue her
The relief driving home that night was deafening
My emotions swarmed
I felt angry
At being subjected to Robert's little point of view
Sad for Ari
Sad for him
I know what it is like to carry crap inside
I felt a little hope for the long view
"If Ari keeps growing she will out-grow him
    Because I don't think he will face himself" I thought
I felt hopeless in the moment
How could we go to Bali now?
I could not even think of what lay ahead if we did
Sleep was elusive
I awoke in a sweat with an emotional hangover
My body ached all over
My head pounded
I was weak and shaky
I made it to work late in the morning
Ari called from a phone booth
To say she had a couple hours free
Could I get away for lunch?
"How are you?" I asked
"I'll tell you when I see you "
I walked out to meet her
Wondering if it would be for the last time
She wore dark glasses and had her head tied up in a scarf
Looking like she had been up all night cleaning
After attending a week of funerals
"You don't look so good" I said and kissed her cheek
"If I look as bad as you
    Then I should be left out in the sun to die" she said with a hint of a smile
"That's a thought"
We burst into laughter draining away our tension
"Sounds pretty bad to me" she said
"Sounds terminal--let's get out of here"
She drove into Manoa Valley
Toward our favorite health food market
"What happened after I left last night" I finally said
"Nothing good
    We fought for most of the night
    He wants me to never see you again"
"That's not what I want"
"Come to any decision?
    Is this the last time I see you?
    What about Bali?"
She was silent in her way for blocks
I felt like I was sliding slowly down a long sharp edge
Waiting to feel the bite of metal
Then she said "We can go to Bali"
"You're kidding!
"Because I insisted on it
    I told Robert I would leave him
    If he prevented us from going"
"Wow---what then?"
"He agreed
    On the condition that when we return
    We only see each other on Sundays at Service for a year"
    Do I have a say in this?"
"You don't have to come to Bali
    But I hope you will"
I shut up fast
As awful as the deal sounded
I knew it was Ari and Robert's decision
How to handle their marriage
My decision was how to be involved with Ari
With what she had left over
Feeling like I was going nuts inside I swallowed it
We stopped and picked up our sandwiches
Then drove to the nearby park
Once we spread out the blankets
We forgot about the food and held each other
"I don't know whether to prepare for a wake
    Or a celebration" I said
"Me neither
    But our flight is tomorrow evening
    If you want to go"
"Of course I want to go!
    Are you crazy?
    No way could I pass up a chance to be with you for ten days
    No matter what coming home means"
She kissed me like we were alone forever
Kissed me and rolled me over
Unbuttoning my shirt
Running her hands all over me
Her passion overwhelming both of us
I left work soon after she dropped me off
To go home to pack and rest
I was so tired from the tension
The next morning I saw Laureen for a treatment
She hugged me like the dear friend she is
Squeezed my hand as my tears fell
Telling her what was happening with Ari
Then she said “I want you two to go to Bali and
    Not think about anything or anyone else
    Let Spirit handle Honolulu and
    Whatever it is you are to return to
    Go to Bali
    Go with only love in your hearts
    Be sure and tell Ari this word for word
    Now get on the table
    You need a treatment
    And this one's on me"
I made it to the airport
Ninety minutes ahead of our flight time
International check-in is two hours before departure
I had spoken to Ari briefly at noon
Told her Laureen's words
She said she would be there but I wondered if she would
Could Robert really let her go
Go away with her lover for ten days?
I don't know that I could
Then I reminded myself that he and I are different people
I waited by the agricultural inspection station
Hawaii restricts live products leaving it
To keep medflies out of California
I waited and waited looking at my wrist
Which had not held a watch since high school
Wondering why the new airport was built
Without one public clock
I tried to read watches on people as they walked by
Then she was there
Rolling her suitcase along behind her
Looking like a professional traveler
"Where's Robert?" I asked
"He wouldn't come in
    I told him he should at least say hello to you
    But he refused "
"Well I 'm glad
    Let's get out of here"
We checked through easily
Got to the gate and boarded in minutes
Settled into our first class seats
Were given water and orange juice by the flight attendant
I held Ari's hand and my breath
Waiting for the plane to lift off
Hoping nothing would pull us back at the last moment
Not sure I could stand going back to my apartment alone
If the flight were canceled
Ari seemed sad and distant
The plane was finally pushed away from the gate
Rolled out to the runway and left Honolulu behind
We raised the seat arm between us and cuddled
An hour later we were laughing
And deep into five across tic-tac-toe
Played on a full page covered with lines
The noise of the airplane drowning the past
Washing away our pain and fears
The Year Of Living Dangerously kept running though my mind
As we stood in line
Stood in a rickety wooden building without walls
The nighttime humidity oppressive
Guards standing around with rifles looking oppressive
I saw Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver living through
Death and upheaval in Jakarta
The capital of Indonesia
One island away from where we stood in Denpasar, Bali
The movie ten or more years old
Its events fiction?
I did not think so
But I did know of the trouble in East Timor
An outer island in the Indonesian chain
A people persecuted and repressed by Sukarno or Sumakato
Or whoever is the benevolent ruler of Indonesia today
Benevolence has its blind spots evidently
Ari and I passed through immigration without event
Hand in hand sweating from the heat
From the turmoil we had left behind
From the anguish we faced upon return
"I want you both to go with love
    To live completely in the moment
    This trip is a gift of love for you" Laureen had told us
Holding each of our hands in both of hers
At an unplanned lunch together the day before we left
In this area of the world where violence
Can appear out of nowhere I sensed
Especially to a midwestern kid with soft eyes
Unwise in the ways of third world countries
Spirit wrapped us in Its love
Whisking us through the airport and
To a shuttle to the Sheraton
The little van shuddering with each bump
Blowing stale air conditioning directly onto my head
Until we finally convinced the driver
Of our desire to have it turned off
The people at the Sheraton Lagoon at Nusa Dua Beach
Welcomed us graciously
Our room was far away from the large open hotel entrance
The valet wheeled our bags through the halls
To the door of number four-sixty-three
The room opened up before us
Two steps down from the entry
A king size bed covered in white floated between
Walls and floor and ceiling of lush dark woods
To our left the bath waited on the entry level
A shower with Jacuzzi looking out over the big bed
Cantilevered like a tree house
Down and into the room
Bags set in the corner
A tip and a thank you
A warm hug and a warmer kiss
We opened the sliding glass door to a small lanai
Which overlooked a tropical playground of
Lagoons, one of which had its own beach
Lighted paths
A waterfall
Palm trees and greenery
And the ocean
The South Pacific shimmering in the moonlight
Washing up to a gently curving sandy beach
Echoing the shape of the moon above
A lovers’ paradise
A gift to two lovers
We unpacked
Too tired from the trip and the days before
To do anything in a hurry
We showered then soaked in the Jacuzzi
Soaping and massaging
Touching with delight and a tender care
Always a part of Ari and my loving
The first time we were able to enjoy each other unhurried
We slid into bed together
The crisp white sheets wrapping around us
Making love slowly
As though we would be together all our lives
Losing the trauma of the past four days in Honolulu
Along with the tensions and tiredness of travel
Fully in the moment
We were determined to love as if there were no more tomorrows
The morning awoke us gently
Soft sunrise melting our sleep away
Giving us both what we had wanted
What we had cried for
What we had loved for
Waking in each other's arms
We stretched in unison like synchronized skiers
I kissed her shoulder then her neck then her lips
She tasted sleepy and wonderful
In a moment she was out of the bed and into the bathroom
"Getting up so soon?" I asked
She was back in my arms
Before I wondered about her not answering
The toilet rumbling somewhere in the distance
Her breath toothpaste fresh
"Do you want me to shave?"
"Later" she mumbled through our lips
We showered and dressed agreeing to rest the whole day
For both of us
For my lungs still wheezing from the airplane
Later we left the room walking hand-in-hand
Down the tiled hallway
Down three flights of the open air stairway
Down to the ground floor and across the winding pathways
Separating lagoon from pool
Small bar from another pool
The beach from one restaurant being cleaned before lunch
We walked in the surf like newlyweds from Iowa
Then found our way to the larger restaurant
Serving a free brunch
Fresh juices in glass pitchers set in ice
Papaya and more
Fresh fruits many new to me
A cereal and croissant bar
Two chefs in white hats making omelets pancakes and waffles to order
Large silver heated servers full of
Scrambled eggs
And an Indonesian dish with a choice of
Hot peppers shoyu or peanuts for garnish
All this food
As much as we wanted
To be eaten sitting next to a lagoon
Fed by gurgling waters pouring over rocks
Waited on by a group of young people
Whose smiles grace and courtesy
Enchanted an already enchanting morning
Ari never wanted to leave
I agreed
After brunch we walked the beach both ways
To our left down three or four hotels
To a group of local people
Offering to sell the simplest of wares
Plastic toys
Coming out of the bushes
Like brown-teethed lizards smelling prey
Smiling but hungry for money
Just beyond this group the beach became rock and uninviting
So we turned back
Retracing our steps
Passing our hotel and continuing on
Leaving the beach to walk overland across a jetty
Ending in cliffs
To the next beach which ran in a short arch
Ending in another set of cliffs
We crossed another narrow strip of land and
Found a third beach which stretched out for miles
Not far down it we found another hotel
With a labyrinth of pools
Finally shaking the ever-present local self-employed
Apparently shying away from hotel property
We swam in the pools of this unnamed hotel
Watched Japanese newlyweds play and blush
Ran quickly across the toe-burning brick surfaces
Beside the water
Rested on plastic cots
I feeling stronger by the moment
My lungs soaking up the heat and sunshine
Ari beginning to purr with pleasure
The reality of Honolulu fading
We played in the ocean
Hugging intimately until a group of young kids from Australia
Interrupted our fun with their own craziness
We laughed and floated with them
Batting beach balls back and forth
Slowly drifting away from the group in each other arms
Feeling a little drained
We walked back across the two hidden beaches
Through the unrelenting local people
One offered to sell me a purple and green dinosaur
Some lost toy of a vacationing two year old
We napped
Falling asleep with our lips touching
Her breath caressing my cheek
As I slipped away from the physical world
The day was still with us when we awoke
I massaged her with oil
Teasing between her legs
Then said "after a swim" when she wanted to do me
We tried the pool downstairs under a late afternoon sun
Played like the kids in the ocean around the point
Then discovered two small basketball goals
In one corner of the free-form pools
The balls were all clustered around a water intake
Up a small channel leading to another pool
We raced there
She won
Then raced back
I won because I held her by her swimsuit
She had never played basketball
I had played a lot as a boy
Learning to jump well for my size
Never able to overcome terrible shooting
With her lack of experience
And my shooting eye
We were about even
Except I knew how to play defense
A concept foreign to Ari
Soon I proposed a handicapping system
The moment she touched the ball it was hers and
I could do nothing to interfere with her shot
As soon as I had the ball she could do anything to me and
When she touched the ball I had to give it to her
Great rules
But they overlooked her training to never interfere
After teasing her about her non-existent defense for a while
She loosened up
Thirty minutes later she was all over me
Hanging on to my shoulders when I went up for a shot
Grabbing at the ball
Grabbing at me
Her best technique was to pull my trunks down
When I jumped to shoot
Once she got them off me entirely and
Held them over her head like a trophy
My heart melted as I watched her come alive
Cheering her on as she stepped into herself
Throwing off her lifetime of self-repression
For the sake of values learned to suit others’ desires
She won our game to fifty
Which lasted well into the evening
My heart so happy to be with her
I helped her more than myself
The next morning Ari phoned the transit company
She had used in November
The driver she asked for was out of the office
She was assured he would pick us up as requested at noon
We laid in bed
Until we had to hurry to brunch before it ended and to be ready for our transit
Her driver did not come with the little van
Instead a bright faced young man introduced himself as Bagus
Showed us to the just-washed bus
Presented us in broken English to the driver Erawan
With everyone smiling and nodding heads we set off
Half way to somewhere Bagus ask us where we wanted to go
Ari was trying to understand why her driver was not available
And told Bagus "Kuta" without more thought
A couple miles later realizing
She needed to stop by a bank
Instead of the money changers in Kuta
I was fiddling with the air conditioner vents
Trying to redirect them away from me
Acting nonchalant about Erawan's driving
Until his U turn caught my attention
He drove across a grass median
Separating what might have been the only four lane highway in Bali
And blended in with
Three scooters a Mercedes and two large trucks
As precisely as a diskette slips into the drive on my laptop
I knew Ari was not immune
To the excitement of close-tolerance driving
From periodic exclamations she made when I cut it too close
While driving in Honolulu
She and Bagus were absorbed in conversation
Our four lanes narrowed to two lanes
Without the protection of a median strip
As we headed back the way we came
The scooters ahead of us
Keeping their tires exactly on the center line
Making it difficult to pass I thought
Until the Mercedes lurched around them kicking up dust
From the shoulder on the other side of the road
A mass of oncoming traffic was growing larger as it neared us
I wondered if the Mercedes would make it
Then Erawan followed
Pulling out into the oncoming lane into sure death it seemed
The Mercedes now a first line of defense against
A large delivery van and herd of scooters
Bearing down upon us
I tapped Ari on the shoulder frantically
She turned to me
Saw my mouth and eyes wide open looking straight ahead
Looked forward and said "Oh my"
As the Mercedes folded back into our original lane
As Erawan followed
The oncoming scooters having moved over
To the far edge of their lane
To avoid us
We missing the van behind them by a foot
As it too made as much room as possible for our van
Without running off the road
Which would have meant
The destruction of three ramshackle road-side stands
Selling little of anything from almost bare shelves
No one honked screamed or yelled in anger
Everyone went on their and our way
Ari said to me softly "Fun yeah?"
Bagus grinned still hanging over the back seat talking to Ari
I nodded and mumbled and squeezed Ari's shoulder
She leaned into me kissing me on the cheek
Bagus grinned broader
She whispered into me ear
"It’s wonderful to be here with you"
Then held my hand and began talking to Bagus again
Her Thaiglish and his Balinglish blurred in my ears
Taking several deep breaths and
Tiring of trying to dodge the jet stream from the AC
I asked if we could shut it off
Erawan complied with a toothy smile
Turning around to look at me in the back seat
Nodding his head several times
As we continued down the highway
Without the benefit of our driver’s eyes on the road
We began our scouting of Kuta by mid-afternoon
After finding one bank closed
Another open
After stopping for fresh juices
The day's heat and humidity quickly sucking us dry
Kuta was a blur of little shops and dusty roads
Of traffic moving slowly on impossibly cramped roads
Made worse by sidewalk and draining ditch repair
Erawan often having to pull in his rear-view mirror
To pass an oncoming vehicle
With the little van parked we walked and looked until
Still tired from our flight and other realities
We asked Erawan to return us to the hotel
He dropped Bagus by the office on the way
Twice we watched oncoming traffic approach in large bunches
Using our lane to pass slower vehicles
I began to get used to it as my confidence in Erawan grew
"The Balinese drive the way fish swim in a school" I thought to myself
At the hotel we skipped dinner neither of us hungry
Laid in each other's arms after a shower
Went down to the pool for a short swim
Soon returning to the room
I massaged Ari with oil and felt her slipping away from me
As she lay with her face buried in her arms
For a long time she would not respond to my gentle questions
Would not roll over
When she finally did turn on her back and looked at me
I saw her nearly lost in grief anguish spilling from her eyes
"What's wrong Beauty?"
"What are you feeling?"
"What can I do for you?"
She shook her head
"It would mean so much to me if you could tell me
What you are going through"
After a long silence she began to talk
Mostly saying “I just don't know what to do"
Talking of her feeling of being caught in a trap
Wanting to break free of it
Wanting to just disappear
“Feeling so awful" she said
I held her
Talked to her about the effects of a lifetime
Of holding in feelings
About what I went through when I began
To clean out my old garbage
Talked about different experiences of other people
Setting out on The Path
Talked about how Spirit cleanses us
How we begin to work off our karma
How life speeds up
Often leaving us feeling overwhelmed
The only way out surrendering to Spirit
A lesson which must be won every day
A step to be re-learned on many different levels
I held her until she held me
We made love with her tears dried on her cheek and
My tears flowing fresh across both our faces
Tears of deep joy unknown before
Tears of haunting grief
Of pain past
Of pain to come for both of us
Trying desperately to push aside the realities of Honolulu
To live in the moment with Ari
To love in the moment with Ari
To fully give to this wondrous women
The days turned into hours and sped by
We shopped during the afternoons
Buying little
Looking a lot
We kissed under the stars
Skinny dipped in the big lagoon late at night
Teased and laughed
Try as we did
We still cried when one of us lost the moment
To the reality waiting in Honolulu
Of seeing each other only on Sunday mornings at the Center
The deal did not seem real to me
Love was not something to bargain over
Not knowing what was coming except pain
I was the one who turned to tears most often
Ari more experienced at repressing her feelings
One evening too close to our departure for my comfort
I lost my inner struggle with my little boy
Lost out to his white-knuckle grip
On the pain of being left behind
It happened to him long ago and he has yet to forgive
I began by asking Ari
If she was really going to honor the deal with Robert
"What are you going to do?"
Something we had talked about often
Something she had no answer for
I could not imagine not seeing her
She felt the same way
We left it at that until the evening when I pushed it
"You're going to go back home and go to sleep aren't you
    I risk my heart to pull you out of your shell and
    All you can say is 'Thank you but I made this deal'
    You must like pain to choose it
    How can you just walk away
    From our four hundred year love?"
Those were the nice things I said
By the time I was warmed up
Ari had buried her face in her arms soon to be in tears
Badgered by my inability to say
"I hurt more than I can stand
    I don't know how I can function not seeing you
    Won't you please re-consider
     Won't you please honor our love"
Instead I pounded her with my anger
Until she had to get away for a walk
I followed her
Both of us wretched
We waded in silence into the big lagoon
Swimming back to the waterfall holding hands underwater
As the sheets of water pounded our shoulders
We went to sleep late that night
After I apologized
After we talked a little
About why she can express only part of her feelings
We hugged and caressed
Finally letting our physical bodies rest
I awoke with an emotional hang-over
She awoke sunny-faced with only a hint of shadow in her eyes
Which she dropped by mid-day
Coaxing me back to self-respect with love and forgiveness
The last days became frantic
As we searched for the right products for Ari to buy
Trying also to find something for family and friends
I not able to buy for the girls or Gudrun
Since I was still in Honolulu to them
We reached for the idyllic mood of the first days
Before the tears came
Before the need to accomplish set in
Before return came nearer
But we fell short with each attempt
Our lovemaking became frantic and dulled
Steeling ourselves for the gauntlet of fire to come
We played tennis one sunny afternoon
Taking a break from Kuta and the stores
Before our last plunge
Which would be the major buying time
It was Ari who suggested tennis
I went along wondering
If I could even get the ball back over the net
Fifteen years earlier when I had last played
I was in great shape
Yet still unable to hit the ball well enough
To enjoy the game
Preferring racquetball
But play we did
With a short lesson thrown-in by the hotel assistant pro
I was able to hit the ball occasionally
Surprising myself
Dismayed my hand was numb within the first few minutes
My grip used to be so strong from picture framing
The hot sun baked us
Until we ran for the pool and more basketball
Ari was savage on defense
Delighting me
We discovered we had been using the wrong balls
Undersized volleyballs just barely smaller than the rim
The little basketballs were very small
Fitting easily through the hoops
By now we were used to the heavier volleyballs
The change lost on our hilarious shooting
We were beyond caring as we splashed and molested each other
I breaking our rules by harassing Ari as she shot
Finally winning a game to twenty-five
The next day we stormed Kuta
Buying sack-loads of beaded clothing
Ari carefully picking each piece for design and workmanship
A lot of crap to be sorted through
Mixed in with good merchandise
One shop owner kept calling me "Boss"
I began calling Ari "Big Boss"
Then "Big Boss Honey"
To make it clear to him he could not use his sexism on her
She laughed but largely ignored us
As she focused on sorting through his whole inventory
To find the right pieces
And make clear the needed wording for the labels
After the buying was done
We hassled with shipping companies
Trying to find one who would prepare the visa
So we could hand-carry the goods back on the plane
One company could get it ready for us
But we would have to stay three extra days
Ari faxed Robert explaining the situation
Asking if he could re-schedule the flights
We were not hopeful
About his willingness or of the availability of flights
In the midst of Easter weekend
The next day upon return from Kuta
We found a message from him to me
Asking us to return as planned the next day
I was very unsettled that he would respond to me
Not Ari
It seemed such a slap to her
We finalized arrangements with another shipper
Had a strange and strained dinner
At an Italian restaurant above an antique store
In the middle of what seemed to be rice patties
Outside of Kuta
Brushing away mosquitos and our heavy hearts
We tried to enjoy the food
The last day we went into Kuta briefly
Finally found the shirts in my size
Ari wanted me to have
We returned to the hotel
To the beach
To the pool
To the bed
All our movements done in gray silhouette
A silent pantomime of times just past
Acted out now as blackness descended
Checking out of the hotel
Saying good-bye to Erawan and Bagus
We made it to our flight
Passing through immigration as we did before
In the open air wooden building
Which now reminded me of stockyards
Finally leaving Bali
Cushioned in thanks-to-mileage first class seats
Hand in hand
Holding on to the very last moment
Not having kept our agreement to live fully in the moment
To enjoy our stay in Bali as though Honolulu did not exist
We left with the consolation
That we had made love more than we cried
After the gentle delicacy of Bali and its people
Guam was a shock
Knowing only an hour in its airport on the flight down
With Easter overloading the airlines
We had an eighteen hour layover
In the land of 11,000 snakes per square mile
And counting
I had booked a hotel from the airport a week earlier
Were we headed with relief after the long first leg
Of our run back to reality and heartbreak
Room 303 of the Hotel Mai' Ana was our second shock in Guam
Near the airport looking very comfortable in brochure photos
Recommended by a flight attendant
It was a seedy transplant from Highway 41 in Tennessee
Too tired to look for another place to sleep
Taken aback at paying seven dollars
For a cab ride around the corner
We ask to see another room
One that did not reek of mold
Room 123 did not smell as badly
So we tipped the fellow helping valiantly with our bags
Lay in each other's arms
Slowly stroking the other's cheek
Wiping away tears seeping steadily of their own accord
We fell asleep at dawn
Not bothering to wonder what time it was in Bali
Our bodies’ last point of reference
The hotel operator told me it was noon when I called
After awakening
Ari cuddled sleepily next to me
Rubbing against my body in a soft rhythm
Which soon turned to passion
We made love as lovers for the last time
Not knowing what was to come
Throwing the sheets to all corners of the room
We began tickling each other while making love
Creating a riotous swing between laughter and passion
Hitting a plateau of near-orgasm
Which held while time slipped away
Wanting to keep all sensations alive for as long as possible
Not willing to face the end
Until swept away in love tears of joy and grief
Both crying "I love you forever"
As we were swept away in our ecstasy
Finally laying spent in a tangle of soaked sheets
Our lungs heaving for air
"Rats" I said and we both howled with laughter
"Too bad" she stammered "We'll have to do it again"
"Call Robert
    Tell him we can't leave yet
    We have to make love until we get it right"
"Too bad we picked such a lousy place
    To quarantine ourselves"
    But what a wonderful quarantine"
Ari untangled herself from my legs and the sheets and
Stretched out along my body
Our sweat acting like a super-conductor for our love
Heart to heart
Soul to Soul
"I love you Turkey"
"I love you Big Boss Honey"
"I will love you forever"
"I have loved you forever"
"I don't know how I am going to live without you"
"I will always be with you"
I could not hold back the tears any longer
Grief welling up from my gut where my two year old resides
Nurse-maiding his forty-year old hurt
As my body shook with sobs I felt Ari join me
Crying for ourselves
Crying for each other
Crying for our love lost again
Another life-time in which we have failed
Having met too late
For circumstances to permit us to join our lives
The taxi driver pulled into the driveway cut-out
Along the Ala Wai
Opened the trunk and set my bags on the sidewalk
"Twenty-one dollars" he told me
With a look in his eye saying he too knew grief
I gave him twenty-five
Grateful for his sensitivity and his silence
I dragged my bags into my small apartment
Opened the overstuffed  mailbox as a neighbor walked by
Pulled out the creased letters and magazines
Closed the mailbox
Closed my door
Part way through a quick sort of the mail
Sitting on the bed sweating from too many clothes
I realized how hot I was still dressed for the plane
I stripped
Pick-up the mail again
Then dropped it
Letting it scatter on the floor
As I doubled-up in pain
As real as hot metal being shoved into my body
When I left my last body in World War II
I dimly heard myself scream
Felt my head pound as tears triggered my sinuses
Later I became aware of moaning
Holding my stomach
Laying naked on my bed
In my little room
Where Ari and I had become lovers
Where we would never love again
Saying over and over softly
"Ari where are you?"
    Ari where are you?
    Ari where are you?
    Ari where are you?
    Ari where are you?”
Ari was not with me in the physical
I could feel her touch
I could taste her breath and her lips
I could hear her laughter
I could wrap myself in her love
On the inner
In my physical human consciousness I was alone and miserable
Missing my lover
My spiritual twin
More than life itself
I wondered what Spirit could possibly have reserved for me
What could I have done in past lives
To create this living hell for myself
I wondered how I was going to be able to function
To go to work
To go to the Center
To smile at strangers
To ever love another other than Ari
Who was at this moment back with her husband
I wondered how I was ever going to survive