The six feet of us, between us. At the market, I handle small pots of white and purple flowers, mulling over how many I can carry on the 1.5 mile walk home, given the grocery bag I’ve already slung across my shoulder. Set the flower pots down on an empty bench. The flower woman is packing up. I remain frozen as if the act of balancing the flower pots inside the bag were, is in fact, a major deal when I feel the touch of a hand on my shoulder.
An older man with snow white hair, masked, looks me in the eye and says, “Seize the day,” then adjusts the mask as if to lift it, as if to reveal his face, that is, himself as if I didn’t recognize him, but decides not to lift the mask. It would’ve been unnecessary because I don’t know him and we’ve all learned to recognize – are in fact recognizable to – each other with half of our faces veiled. He gets on his way, I buy the flowers.
How peculiar to think of myself as the older woman that older men pay attention to at the market. How peculiar to think our eyes speak louder than we thought when we were used to judging emotion, mood, attitude by focusing on the mouth, nose and chin. How surprising that we recognize each other by our hair, our posture, the way we walk. No mistaking the individuals in the sea of masked faces. So it is perhaps the soul that is worn on our sleeves and the windows of our eyes are transparent, and just that Sunday morning, the radio plays Suzanne by Leonard Cohen. The various iterations of “touching a perfect body” with one’s mind – she touching his, he touching her, and Jesus touching both.
What happens when these bodies lose their perfection? The mind is a wish-maker, a trickster that allows our minds to recognize gradually that we are changing, but it is slow and some part of it stays ignorant – as in, being asked about my grandchildren, or an old man touching my shoulder, and doing so because I am his age group.
In my mind, I’m still perhaps forty. Operating on memory, vividly recalling places, conversations, faces and things I used to do and learning gradually that they may all still exist (or not) but not in the here and now. It’s a bit like living on different levels of time and letting them continue, even though they’ve ended. And all of it through the single lens – not seeing how we are seen, but seeing others and recognizing them and their make-believe personas on a different plane. How that man at the market revealed himself in ways he never thought of then or since. And then – every seven years all new cells, but no new beginnings.