I decided I needed to get away. To go somewhere quiet and peaceful where I could sit back and take in all that had happened. And to begin to think about how I might live a life as a psychic, clairaudient channel that did not require me to get a 1-800 number, put blonde highlights in my hair, and, basically, become the modern day embodiment of Cher's Dark Lady!
Noel, my yoga instructor, suggested I go to Kripalu, a yoga retreat center in the Berkshires. “Good. Go!” Kalin said. “And take your spirits with you!”
I packed up the Volvo, grabbed the pair of red dice my grandfather carried with him every day (so that I could have Grandaddy…and luck..close by), and headed west.
Driving into the Berkshires is like entering a mother’s embrace. The rolling hills pull you closer and closer, lulling you with their gentle comfort. As you and your car climb higher, you find yourself closer and closer to the heartbeat of Mother Nature herself. By the time I pulled into Kripalu, a mere two hours after leaving Boston, I was utterly and completely relaxed.
I also was more than a little out of place. The guests wandering Kripalu’s grounds had that zenned-out expression that, previously, I had seen only in Cambridge's Central Square. People ate meals out of a Buddha bowl, so named because it is the size of two cupped hands (Buddha thought you only needed to eat what could fit in your hands. No wonder the poor bastard sat under a Bodhi tree for 49 days. He was starving!). And the food they put in said bowls was vegetarian (sacrilege to a Texan like me).
Despite all of this, I felt quite comfortable at Kripalu. I felt welcomed, I felt safe, and I felt free to explore in nature that which the city’s concrete buildings…and views…suppressed.
Which is exactly what I did all that first afternoon. Explore. I walked down narrow paths, wandered through labyrinths, napped on the edge of a pond and spent hours sitting on an old bench, staring out past the trees. Beyond the horizon.
“I’m here,” I said to whoever was listening. “Not sure why, but I’m here.”
By the end of the afternoon, I was famished for a wonderfully decadent meal. And parched for an unspeakably dry martini. Knowing that places which eat out of Buddha bowls tend to offer neither, I showered, put on khaki pants and a pressed shirt, hopped in the Volvo and headed for dinner at a nearby restaurant. Peggy Lee was singing to me as I drove. “It’s a good day,” she cooed. Yes, it was.
The restaurant I chose was in an old house. They seated me at a two-top in a small room that was betwixt and between the hustle of the kitchen and the bustle of the dining room. It was perfect.
Soon after my unspeakably dry martini arrived, I began scribbling notes in my journal.
In-between my third and fourth sip, I noticed that the Shaker chair across from me was gradually turning black. I looked around the room. No one else’s chair was turning black and no one seemed to notice that mine was. In fact, my waiter even showed-up, mid-shapeshift to ask if I wanted another piece of bread…or a second martini (you can guess which one I picked!).
The presence was growing, filling the back of the chair and reaching across the table. For me. It was my great-grandmother Lily. The one who had died in the mid-1950s, long before I was even born. A Native American orphan from Oklahoma, my family had always described her as a very serious woman who didn’t say much.
Death had not changed her.
“We’ve been waiting for you,” Lily said. As she showed me a field with a river of blood that ended at a baby’s feet, her feet, she added, “You’re the last of the line.”
“Shaman,” she said. And disappeared.
“Here’s that martini you ordered,” I heard the waiter say with impeccable timing.
I looked down at my journal. I had written every word Lily had said. And underlined shaman. Three times.
Well, I thought. Now you know who you are. Except I didn’t. Because I had never heard of a shaman before.
What was it Alice said? Oh yeah. “Curiouser and curiouser.”