Katerina emits her usual sensual mmm-ing and Aaah-ing, the kinds of sounds my mother would be horrified if I made in public. I feel like we’re two glistening beings gifted with the sense of touch for the first time in our lives. I slither in still water, a ripe mango swimming in juice. I’m all sighs, all smiles on my skin, and, eventually, I become nothing.
I remember the first time I went skinny dipping. It was in Jeddah at a popular chalet resort. It was dark. I was twenty four at the time, I believe, and it was a perfectly a scandalous thing to do. In society, I was expected to cover up from head to toe when outside the house, but there in the water, I was untouched by all that. It was during a time in my life when I was obsessed with the song “Age of Aquarius” because the age of Aquarius was rising within me, making gentle cracks in the proper world I knew and adhered to.
There it is again, Katerina’s absence. I try to engage her about our pilgrimage but she brushes me off by showing only interest in the water lapping her sides.
Later, we feast on Mexican food downtown like ravenous wolves who had just had a hearty swim. She brushes me off again as I try to glean from her some interest, excitement, or just plain old suggestions for our journey together in the upcoming week. I look for it, like a child looks for a hint of a “yes” in her mother’s face. I saw no yeses, only…”what about it?”
Katerina takes me to a seashore where it’s quiet after dinner. No one is around here either. I’ve already clamped down and crawled back into my disappointed shell. There will be no pilgrimage. The idea, when we spoke online, it seems, was just a floating thing to her, while to me it is my heart inflating to a bursting point with yearning. Yearning for love, yearning for the heavens, yearning for the unknown - and also fearing it - yearning for what is beyond the veil, yearning for God, for the creator, the oneness. Yearning for everything. And also, yearning to share this yearning with someone who I’ve come to think of as more than a friend of flesh; a being of light, a spirit.
She goes to sit on the shore far away as I lie on one of the recliners on the sand and I feel even more abandoned. Then, I turn to my side and hold myself in an embrace. I begin to the see the hurt child that was clinging to her this whole time. Loneliness washes over me louder than the shushing of the waves. I hold myself tighter and cry. I see it now, the hollow, my blind spot. It hurts. It really hurts and I don’t know why. Why is it here? Will it eat me up?
Maybe I’m idolizing Katerina too much. Maybe I’m clinging to the romance of a pilgrimage because I’m running from this horrid hollow that I see and feel now. Katerina doesn’t hear me over there so I let the sobs come hot and fast. She might be a healer, but in this moment, I am my own. I hold myself until I am quiet again, until I’m here again and the loneliness is only a whisper. I can hear the waves sending me ointments and salves. I let my foot sneak down to feel cold silky sand.
I decide I’m ready to Join Katerina. I sit beside her and we stare ahead across the water at an inanimate scene with the moon behind us for protection. We are quiet in delicious repose. No need for words. Just breath.
Then, our first miracle comes. In the silence across, there are thick heaps of clouds hovering over the water at the horizon. We cannot see them, of course, because it is too dark. A single wondrous flash of light appears that was not lightening but a yellow line vibrating across the sky. It sends a shimmery haze all around, cupping the voluptuous curves of the clouds. We both cry out in surprise.
The flash is proceeded with another. Then, flashes come together to create an orchestra that deepens in the sky so that the yellows are accentuated with deep maroons, grays and faint purples. They come fast one after the other, ethereal, silent, but loud in their impact, like Beethoven is sitting in a chair somewhere in there banging his elbows on the piano keys because he thought no one could hear.
The sight makes us delirious. We make those ecstatic sounds with every flash because we are in a state of wonder too sacred to interrupt or question. We witness the genesis of a little universe. For what feels like half an hour we cannot not keep our eyes away from the orgy of pleasure the sky is having. And the pleasure it breaks loose inside us!
Somewhere throughout this miracle, Katerina puts a hand on my heart and love passes between us through the conductor of knowing, of connection and belonging. We don’t need to speak about our pilgrimage. It is already happening, in its own unruly way.
This is my gift to you both, the Universe seems to say. Are you ready?
Note: All pictures above taken by Katerina Kyriacou. http://katerinakyriacou.weebly.com/