We met many years ago at the New York Open Center. I wonder if you remember me. I remember you. We spoke no words; we made eye contact with each other every week in a bright and silent corridor.
I sat near your classroom while I waited for my own class to begin. My classmates and teachers had not yet arrived and I sat on a bench in the hallway upstairs, adjacent to your teaching space. Your class was scheduled to begin before mine. I was early every week. And every week, I sat on the bench and contemplated the surroundings, watched the students, thought about the day, thought about the class I was registered to take, and thought about nothing. It became an empty, happy space, my mind, and the corridor around me. Sometimes I would get up to use the bathroom. Sometimes I would go into the meditation room. Usually, I sat on the bench.
And then you arrived. Stairs? Elevator? I don’t remember, even though I sat near both. You breezed in with an energy density that was radiant and serene and pulsing. Sometimes you seemed more tired than I expected. Expected why? Because the person who wrote The Artist’s Way shouldn’t be tired? I let go of that conception.
I looked forward to our visits. Every time, we made a long, slow eye contact, and we smiled. Every week. It was what I came for. I gained more from those encounters than I did within my class. I left my own class early every night to catch the train back to New Jersey, and I was still tired the next day. Late nights don’t suit me. Perhaps they didn’t suit you, either.
What did I gain, and what did we share? What did you feel? What did I feel? There was an acknowledgement of commonality, a connectedness of spirit. Always, there was that. Did you feel that? That I felt it is what matters to me.
A knowing smile. You had that, in the corridor, every week, and I felt it too. A pursed lip, contended mouth, curled up at the corners: an “I see you” smile. One that transmits out through the eyes. That’s your smile, to me. It didn’t matter what you taught in the class, not to me, not those nights. We met in the corridor and never spoke a word. Every week. Week after week. A knowing smile, a connectedness, a something intangible, shared. A weekly recognition of the light within, the artist’s way.
They were moments of grace in the hallway, and I’m happy to have known you in that way, back then.
previously published on WordPress at https://maiakumarigilman.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/dear-julia/