I opened the front door, dropped my suitcase, yoga mat and art materials on the floor and shouted, “Hello, lovely casa and family! I’m home!”
Dead silence. Then I heard the clicking of Salsa’s nails racing toward me. She jumped up and down, and I caught her in my arms.
“Hola! Max! Yoo-hoo!” I shouted. I’d been gone several weeks and thought he would be anxiously waiting by the door for the airport taxi.
A moment later, he shuffled out to meet me in his Speedo, flip-flops and unbuttoned shirt. “I didn’t expect you so soon!”
Annoyed, I said, “I told you when the plane was landing and when I expected to be home.”
“I’m helpless without you,” he said, shrugging. “Let me get your bags.”
“Jeez, Max, don’t get too excited.”
“Just sit on the terraza and I’ll get you an ice tea.”
“I don’t want ice tea and I don’t want to sit on the terraza. I’ve had nothing but tea and three-minute showers for the last few weeks.”
“I don’t want ice tea and I don’t want to sit on the terraza. I’ve had nothing but tea and three – minute showers for the last few weeks. I want a real bath and then I’d like a glass of champagne, a nice dinner and a huge slice of tiramisu.”
“You sound upset,” he said, looking at me quizzically. “After the retreat, I thought you’d be humming “Om” and bowing to everything.”
I ran fingers through my hair. “Oh, please. I did lots of that on the retreat. Now I want real life again.”
“Hmmmm, my dear, if you did all these wonderful practices that you wrote me postcards about, shouldn’t you now be feeling more spiritual?”
He was right. Where was my good mood, centeredness, the calm of lengthy meditation?
“Oh, Max,” I said, plopping down on a lounge chair. “Every move I made on retreat was something to be pondered – how I ate, how I arranged flowers, how I observed nature, how my mind was bedeviled. It was exhausting!”
He twiddled his moustache. “Why was it exhausting?”
I sighed and looked at the sky. “Because I was really immersed in what I was doing.” I petted Salsa who had jumped into my lap. “If I hadn’t been involved, it all wouldn’t have seemed as important and I wouldn’t be exhausted now.” I looked at him. “What did you feel after a retreat?”
“Like the brakes had been put on. When I came home, I carved the vegetables for Presentation Is Everything more slowly.”
“Yes, I know.” I sighed. “You took all the time in the world for your vegetable garnishes.”
“They needed to be carved mindfully.”
I nodded. “Like everything needs to be done. Not rushed. The retreat gave me the time to pull back and observe everything more objectively – like what I do when I paint. Or how to react to people and not get dragged away by my thoughts.”
“Yes,” he said. “And now is your time to tell me about your experiences.” He gave me a hand up. “Go take your bath and I’ll order a pizza. Then tell me all.”
Pizza? Was this all I was getting as a welcome home?
Max eyed me. “Looks like you’ve lost weight. Won’t even show up on you.”
That mollified me somewhat.
I took my bath, lingering in the perfumed suds. I was soaking and sulking. Just pizza? I’ve been gone for weeks. Shouldn’t I get more?
When I came back to the terraza, what a surprise! Max was dressed in crisp whites. He had put on my favorite CD. Many candles flickered. The round dining table by the pool held a lovely ikebana with orchids and a silver ice bucket with champagne. Something delicious wafted from the glass chafing dishes – lobster Newburg, bundles of grilled asparagus, and a colorful citrus salad.
“What happened to the pizza?”
“Last minute change of plans. You know me!”
I smiled. “My lovely casa and family!”
Popping the Veuve Cliquot, he said, “For your return, nothing but the best! And leave room for dessert.”
“A no calorie tiramisu.”
“Sure. I bet!”
“Here’s to your enlightenment and your return.”
“I’ll toast the return but not sure about the enlightenment.”
“Tell me all,” Max said, clinking his flute with mine.
I shook my head. “It’s about confusion and acceptance.”
“It always is,” he said.
“I’ll drink to that!” Follow Sylvia on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/SylviaS1234/