I go to Joe’s to pick up more tea, which I have purchased with real money this time because I can’t keep up with the barter this week.
Kaiya is there, the new apprentice for the growing season. She has a gentle-soul sort of tone to her voice and her body odor is always fierce, like a woman who has been backpacking for ten days. Her sea-blue eyes rest like soft marbles on her silk face. Her dreads are magnificent and long, forcing the angle of her face to tip slightly upwards due to the weight of them. This lends lightness to her posture and she greets me openly with hug and kiss.
Women can do this. We have only spent one evening together, as acquaintances in the same car for a long drive but still – we have permission to be affectionate. At a certain point in growing up women find that there are ways to communicate without all the friction. There is no need to declare whom the phoenix is in the room, no need to size up or down, put down or shove away. When women greet like with mutual adoration, the gesture of hug and kiss is a secret way of saying: “I honor you. Be kind to me.”
It is agreed that we will see each other at yoga next week, and yes, I can give her a ride home. She says, “You know, there’s no power up here at night so we just hang out. Come on by, see, bring your banjo, yeah, we’ll kick it.” I smile knowing how hard it seems to make friends in the valley when you are without car or bike – when you plop down outta nowhere, hair growing in every direction, holes in your clothes, perma-stained jeans hugging your hips, dirt under your nails, an open heart and unfailing optimism in the universe. “Sure,” I nod, “Next week sometime. We’ll make it work.”