The title of this entry is a mystery to me. It’s late. I’m tired. A new year turns over tomorrow and the impulse to look back over my shoulder for a glance at the past is impossible to overcome. These days I look for times of my life when I was happiest and try to find whatever it is that might help me today. Kundalini Yoga stands out as one of those life enriching habits, and I’m making the resolution to bring out my “Seven Rays for Seven Days” workbook and begin again. (ah….now the title makes a little more sense).
Alma Eaton moved in next door when Lena was almost two, and I was pregnant with Mimi. Alma means “soul” in Spanish. A gorgeous mix of Cuban and French heritage, Alma lived with her soul on the outside of her skin: passionate, compassionate and so very very beautiful. 17 years ago, Alma took me to my first Kundalini Yoga class held on Saturday mornings in the home of Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. Gurmukh teaches out of a studio now in Hollywood, Golden Bridge Yoga. But back then, we gathered in her living room where she led us in an hour of yoga followed by fresh brewed chai and cookies. Alma worked hard during class, the sweaty sheen and flush of red on her skin elevating her beauty to near otherworldly quality. What made her even more beautiful was her desire to apply the lessons in Kundalini yoga to her spirit as well, to grow her heart, to nurture her soul. She travelled to India with Gurmukh and met one of the spiritual leaders there. I used to know this story well – Alma was blessed and given a new name, which had a special meaning. Having lived most of her life being appraised by her outer appearance, this recognition of her inner self thrilled her. And I’ve forgotten the details. And I’ll probably never learn them again.
After eight years of living next door, she moved and we lost touch, running into each other once. We exchanged our new numbers, then never used them. Two different worlds. She had seen Lena grow up. Seen Mimi born. She took baths in my house because she only had a shower. We shared birthdays – I can still look around the room or in my jewelry box and remember the special things Alma gave me. Funny how we let people like that slip out of our lives. They are gone from us, perhaps for good, but we don’t mourn grievously because the loss is not immediate or complete. An opportunity for reunion remains, and this appeases us.
Tonight when I went online to find Alma, I found her obituary. She died in 2008. Somehow I feel I must have known this before. I know I have looked for Alma in the past…If I knew, I forgot. And I forgot because….maybe I was too sad to continue to know.
Gosh, it’s late. And I had meant to keep this short and simply provide a link to the following Garrison Keillor essay about the accident that took Alma’s life. He happened to have seen the aftermath. I have heard him read this essay, but didn’t know the Alma he was speaking of was the woman who once lived next door and shared so much of my life with me.
As for the title of this entry, with the new year breathing down my neck and the sandman pounding at the door I will steam forward without nuance or finesse: many many people will be walking with us into this new year. Some of them we used to know, love and enjoy. When their phone number flips by in our contacts but we don’t call, there’s a part of us that figures they’ll still be around next year and we’ll call them then. Call now. Renew the friendship. Begin again.