Hermit in the Hall of Mirrors: Chapter 3

A ragged bass line pumped and throbbed throughout the old farmhouse and Arielle’s bare feet slapped the warm flagstones in the afternoon sun, returning the beat. “This is love. This is me.” The mantra ran through her mind, just out of view of her thoughts. The vacant mist of wide open acceptance still hung thickly about her and she fought to ground with every foot stomp. “This is me, this is me.”

Staying anchored in her ego seemed crucial in the absence of any reflecting other. “I’ve only got myself to see me, so I must” she thought. Dancing grounded her, smoking grounded her. Cats on her lap held her down and balanced her energy through their own alternately spinning systems. Walking the land grounded her, dust to dust.

In the weeks and months since coming to the island Arielle had grown strong in her body. Climbing hills and carrying logs each day built a high base line fitness that fuelled a fierce hunger for protein, and so she ate like an athlete. With the relatively pure living and good sleep, she was a filly in fine fettle. Her body had never felt so good to her. Lithe and lightly muscled, skin soft and clear from soap-free simplicity, hair shining of its own accord, and a gentle rosy tan from the Mediterranean winter sun.

Some days she felt her own vitality and beauty so intensely she would weep with frustration. She wanted to share her body, use her body to give and receive pleasure, to communicate with gestures and touch, converse through dance. She wanted to mesmerise and catalyse with her body, to tangle and twine and test with her body. She felt like a circuit board that didn’t quite connect, unable to light up its full potential. She endeavoured daily to be enough for herself, to listen deeply and respond with loving presence, but she knew that it’s not how we are wired.

We humans are wired for connection. We are one with all and every cell in the great urban sprawl of our bodies knows it. We feel the whole world and hold it within us. She knew that all of humanity was there, throbbing with life. Complex systems bumping uglies and replicating wildly, all just out of view, just behind the veil that had descended when she arrived here.

At some point she must have sat down because in that moment she snapped into the experience of tiny needles in her fleshy thighs and a soft, furry cheek vibrating against her own. Tzatziki. Zazzle cat. Zazou. Her mitten soft little body shimmered black and amber in the late afternoon sun and she began to knead determinedly at the camel cashmere beneath her.

“Zazou, my love. Gah! My flesh! Please. I love you, but ow… Enough!” She scooped the elegantly sprawling bundle of hot kitty love into her arms like a baby and sauntered into the cool of the kitchen. One hand deftly lit the gas hob and the kettle groaned at being woken from its slumber, then began slowly to bubble and whine. “Time for tea again, must be” she muttered to the cat. Tzatziki only blinked her pistachio eyes slowly, upside down, and stretched out a languorous paw to Arielle’s lips.

Here was connection. Here was a perfect little being seeking warmth and sensual delight. This one also remembered her ancestor’s lifetimes in the desert. The relentless battering blaze of the sun that burned through bullshit in a flash. In the desert life is a gift and precious water is God, the giver of life. She knew water and fire lived side by side in her soul, sunshine weaving rainbows out of the rain. The one carrying oxygen that breathes life into the other, but only the flame can partner to release this precious cargo into the air and so they thrive interdependently in an eternal elemental dance…

This world of wild wondering and space-time wandering draped itself like a low-hanging mist over the pragmatic earthy mass of her daily routine at the farm. Chop wood, carry water. Walk dog, make soup. Feed cats, sweep floor, wash clothes. All punctuated weekly by a great big intake of sea air and mountain views, and the stark solids of earthly forms laid out for consumption in the minuscule Saturday market. Here everything was ordered like with like, and set out in rows to be clearly seen and unmistakably known for what it was. Even though she could read but a few of them, the labels felt good to her. “We all agree what these things are” she thought, fingering fruits and fronded beetroots, “and thats’s nice.”

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