Rubbing the Wrong Way (48)

This morning the yoga class before our meditation runs a little long. I sit on the bench outside the door and pay attention to how annoyed it makes me. I wanted time to find my spot, get settled. I’d rushed the whole way, walking fast in the hot morning. I was sweating. It was the principle of the thing. The whole time part of me is incredulous. Was I really going to get all bent out because I had to wait a few minutes? The principle of the thing? Really?

A woman walks out of the studio smiling. My answering smile feels stiff on my face. A man comes out and sits beside me on the bench. He’s all blissed out from a good class, his movements slow and deliberate, taking it all in. I soften, feel the dumb irritation slide away.

My neighbor from Canada, one of our snowbirds though she hates that designation, keeps asking me if I’ve been away. “Are you okay?” she said one evening when I passed her sitting on the porch after picking up my mail.

“Yeah,” I said. But I bristled inside. Why would I not be okay? Today she asks me again if I’ve been gone. I’ve already explained why she might wonder. I haven’t been sitting in the courtyard. I no longer talk to my cats. I am a quieter neighbor these days. My work is quiet, too. “I haven’t been outside much,” I say again.

“Oh, well,” she says. “You need to get out. Get some fresh air.” I laugh and tell her how much it bugs me when she says things like that. I hate being told what to do. But the laugh is genuine, and I let it go. Later, I see two white-crowned sparrows sitting on the wall across the road. I talk to them through the open window for a moment before they fly away. I want them to winter here now every year, our true snowbirds. Maybe when they come back I’ll be sitting in the courtyard again.

In the late dusk the moon is a sickle in the southern sky. I realize I’m too tired. Everything chafes.

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