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Velcro Part One: So Much Chewing

Velcro Part One: So Much Chewing

"Wait. What’s her last name?" I texted.

It was creeping into late evening and I was preparing a salad, which should be easy because it doesn't involve defrosting, preheating, measuring, or the killjoy setting a timer brings. But an intuition alarm is going off in my nervous system and unlike alarms that tell you to go-go-go, this one's like a strong cease and desist notification, telling me to stop, freezing my movements. I stand upright, step back from the counter, and look off into the ether, playing back a text in my head. I was in the part of salad making where it felt like years had gone by when I'd first started and hunger interrupts the flow with an internal dialog: "Are we still making the salad?" "Yes, yes indeed, we are still making the salad." It's a lot of prep and a lot of chewing, so much chewing, as time-consuming in the making as in the consuming. Strewn about a small counter were a bounty of healthy ingredients like a checklist of the kinds of nutrients your yoga teacher would annoyingly say you needed to eat to go deeper in some forward bend twist, because I am that annoying yoga teacher.

Most of the salad prep was sequenced, not just for the buzzy hungry lady trying to finish off her day with a healthy win, but also for the impatient and tired woman I will be afterwards, who is not going to appreciate a lot of cleaning up. Short of eating everything separately out of the package, where my stomach is the bowl and there's zero clean-up, I strategize adding ingredients for less handwashing, less opening the same cabinet doors over and over again, or the fridge door, or putting the cutting knife down, picking it up, moving the cutting board closer, further away, closer again, along with having the least amount of sticky mess after. If there is a joy of cooking, we maybe ran into one another at a dinner party years ago, but were never friends. It was during this one-person rush in my kitchen that I received a text from the owner of the yoga studio I teach at. We'll call her Sean. The phone is set to only show the names of people contacting me and not what they want to contact me about. This is a privacy measure, for a person who spends most of their time at home where no one else can see my phone's screen. Mostly it feels like I'm just trying to annoy myself.

I stop the interminable salad preparation, wash my hands, and carefully dry them on a hemp apron. Whenever I do this I feel like a real chef: look at me, I'm preparing food, no ordering in here, thanks. It's an outwardly casual gesture working against my own best interest, I'm too fussy-energy hungry, and checking the phone is not going to help. Maybe I shouldn't stop what I'm doing, in the interest of the person texting me, because if you shouldn't drive angry, you should definitely never text hangry. Hands all clean, I had picked up my phone and read Sean's text. The message was kinda long because Sean is a fan of "voice-to-text obfuscation" as she likes to call it. Details about the possibility of a private yoga client, a woman named, lets say Streegya something, near Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan, who has a lot of health issues, kind of a handful. Fungry I typed back a quick, "Hi, Yes." Sean's just looking for a yes or no answer and we can figure out the rest later.

I had put the phone down and gotten back to slicing, dicing, and chopping, when I stood up, knife in hand, and stopped like a video that's been paused. There are a couple of details in the text and the activity of holding a knife, that suddenly connect to a negative feeling unrelated to the moment, giving me a cold shiver. This is my body attuned, its warning system communicating from subconscious to nervous system. Of the many benefits of practicing yoga, listening to my intuition, the sixth chakra, is one of them. I honor this unwelcome vibe by putting down what I'm doing and texting Sean again with an unexplained immediacy. Feeling like I don't have enough time, I wipe a pointer finger across my apron, my chest, and tap-text Sean as quickly as possible, trying to catch her before she answers the woman back, asking for the woman's last name.

I have an Aunt Strigga who lives near Madison Square Garden, also known as Penn Station. The voice-to-text Streegya is very close. Could there be two women who are a handful, who have an uncommon name, and live in the same neighborhood? It was possible, just like it was possible for there to be a left-handed short stop, and just as unlikely. I return to dicing vegetables, then stop again quickly, rinse my hands and try to find a dry spot on my increasingly moist apron. My message to Sean isn't conveying what's in my head. I want to be clear about something and add, "I have an Aunt Strigga near mad garden. Different last name" along with the important part, "And she’s a nut." Aunt Strigga, or Aunty Striggy as we never fondly called her, because I'm making up the name, is my dad’s sister and we don't share a last name. This is not a person I want to be blindsided into contact with.

After replying to Sean, I reread her first message. For a communication tool that is fast and easy, reading a text often requires multiple go-overs, or an audience of friends to decipher intent. Salad prep is not quite finished, my body has moved beyond being frustrated-with-me hungry to a hungry high: wobbly, more fun, and a place mentally where I often keep going in the wrong direction decision-wise because my brain needs food, but the wrong way has a foggy, beguiling mystery to it. Sure, why not read in this moment, when my comprehension is, well, whatever the opposite of peak would be. The woman who contacted Sean is maybe in her mid-sixties, has a myriad of health issues, but is eager to work privately with a yoga teacher, starting with one session and then buying a package. Also, the woman wanted a restorative yoga teacher, which is my niche. This could be anyone. I shake off the idea it's my dad’s sister, put down the phone, and add the last ingredients. After listening to my intuition, I have a probabilities doubt; maybe I'm overreacting, but really, who is the woman contacting my boss? The negative feeling is still there; the alarm's still going off.

(To Be Continued, Friday, February 23rd, Velcro Part Two!)


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