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Victoria was still talking about protocol for the benefit of all of us who were new and I realized that I hadn’t written anything down since she started. I looked down at my pad again but gave up once I was reminded that all I had before were sketch ideas. I gave a small shrug and just smiled, hoping that I would just be able to ask questions and figure things out as I went along. It was almost impossible to get myself to focus, so I stopped trying to fight it.
I could still feel her eyes on me and finally I looked up and over at her. Cory didn’t make a move to shift her eyes as I thought she would. That’s what I would have done if I had been caught staring at someone. Instead, she just smiled. A little enigmatic quirk of her lips that made me wonder what in the world she was thinking. She looked at me for a while longer before motioning with her chin back to Victoria, where I should have been looking in the first place. I rolled my eyes and felt a giggle bubbling in my throat. I coughed once in an attempt to clear it out and tried to focus on Victoria who was still talking. I swallowed down the mirth in my throat and readjusted my balance on the arm of the chair.
I started to doodle on my notepad. I started with a moon and just let my hand and mind wander together. Cory’s answer about first names was one of the most interesting that I had ever heard. She was interesting. I had watched her teach earlier in the day, although I made sure she didn’t see me. She had a definite way with people. She immediately saw what it was they needed and found a way to give it to them, whether it was through an encouraging smile or a simple touch in the right direction. The group of people had actually applauded after her class. That was all I saw before I retreated back behind my protective front desk and waited for the class to file out.
I got a better look at her when she finally came out of the class. She was a little bit tall, a lot thin. I envied her height and length. She was all long arms and legs, almost those perfect dancer lines that I could never quite get. I was more curves than lines. Still compact and not fat in the least, I just wasn’t the straight lines that every dancer needed to really “make it” out there. Her hair was waves and curls and stopped just at her neck. A pretty brown that bordered on golden, she looked like what Alexander the great should have looked like if he were teaching yoga in the 21st century. She pushed that leonine mane of hers back with one hand and smiled at a student who was talking to her. I knew that I should have been looking away, or at the computer, or anywhere else but prying into their conversation but I was immobilized. My eyes were taken over and I couldn’t seem to draw my attention to anything or anyone else in the room except for them.
“Thank you so much.” the student was saying and I could see that tears were starting to form in her eyes. The small woman had reached up to snake her arms around Cory’s neck in a hug. Cory leaned down a little and hugged her tight, whispering something in the woman’s ear that made her bellow with laughter. She shook from the force of it and wiped her eyes free of her tears as a large smile made itself at home on her round face.
I found myself smiling well before I remembered that I had a job to do, which did not involve stalking the other teachers at The Lotus. I knew that I was going to need help and I knew that if I was going to help people I was going to have to break out of myself. Having a mentor as Victoria called it when she was explaining my internship at The Louts. I would be able to chose whoever I wanted, whoever would be able to speak my personal language and really reach me and help me to become an instrument to other people. As I watched Cory with her students, I got the same feeling I felt as I had walked into The Lotus and I hoped that I wouldn’t be wrong about her. More than that, I hoped that she would be willing to take me on as a pet project.
“Nice.” Her voice made me jump and I found my heart up in my throat, pounding at a frantic pace. Already, I knew her voice. Smooth and a little husky, she sounded like the kind of person who could talk to you about absolutely anything and you would feel completely comfortable with her. I wished I could copy the sound of her soothing voice.
“Jeez! You scared me,” I breathed and flushed a little at how small my own voice sounded. I hated that the more anxiety ridden I became, the smaller my voice got until I found that I would almost lose the ability to speak all together. My eyes found her face, framed by all that thick hair and I couldn’t help that the first word that popped into my head was stunning.Her smile faltered a little as her eyes traveled back down to my notepad.
“Sorry. But really, it’s nice.” She pointed a long slender finger to my notepad. I looked down confused at being drawn away from her face and saw that I had drawn a forest. The moon that I started with was still there, but now surrounding it and filling in half the page were large evergreen trees, a few mountains in the back and a few clouds with shading. No people yet, but the start of a stream began to wind down the page toward me. I blinked a few times thinking about how I had just let my hand and mind wander.
“Thanks.” I managed a tight smile. I had the urge to cover up my sketch. I wasn’t in the habit of showing my sketches to many people. I didn’t do them for the world. They were my own personal therapy. Helping me get out whatever it was that was in my head but refused to make its way to my mouth. I learned early on that I had to make room for the new emotions and feelings that were going to come to me everyday and that I had to somehow express the others out, otherwise they would drive me crazy. I discovered drawing and painting, and those two things had constantly been there for me when I needed to work through my demons.
“Sorry. I didn’t meant to pry or anything. I just couldn’t help myself. You looked so studious over here, I just could’t believe that you would have been writing so many notes on bathroom protocol and coat check procedures.” I raised my eyes to meet hers and they were a brilliant hazel color. Shifting from light brown tiger eyes to green and darker brown. I stilled my hand which raced to sketch Cory’s eyes and instead tried to make my brain work.
“Sorry?” I blinked to try and clear the image of her eyes from my head but they stayed with me. The rest of her face came into focus and she raised an eyebrow even as one side of her mouth lifted in a smirk.
“That’s what the staff meeting was about.”
My eyes widened a fraction and I felt my face heat up. “Oh! I uh…” I shook my head and allowed myself a small laugh while I figured out what to say to all this. Could I have looked more stupid? Really, notes on bathroom cleaning and coat check! Her smiled widened and she raked a hand through that hair again. I was beginning to be mesmerized by the edges which formed soft curls that circled her face before I snapped myself back to present. I wasn’t in high school. It should have taken more than some great hair to mesmerize me.
“I’m gonna need some help incase you hadn’t noticed. Would you mind being my mentor?” I blurted the sentence out, letting my mouth lead without giving my brain time to shut myself down. I hadn’t even asked her if she were thinking about taking on new projects, or people, or whatever. I hadn’t even given Victoria time to address the teachers about the new students who would be starting their practices and internships. Always foolhardy and rushing forward. I inwardly slapped myself and I forced my lips into a small smile while my heart beat frantically back and forth inside of me mimicking hummingbird wings.
I didn’t know why I was so moved by her but I didn’t make a habit of questioning my feelings. They had never steered me wrong thus far and after all, I was an artist. I had to trust my feelings or I would have nothing to go on. Something in me felt like I had a lot to learn from the other woman. I don’t know, call it destiny, synchronicity, whatever you like, but I felt like I needed to know her. Cory laughed, a delicate sound that I didn’t think would belong to her.
“Well….what would it entail?” Her eyes were unsure. I had to get her out of this room before the clouds moved from in front of the sun, because once they did, the sun would hit her and I would look like an absolute crazy person because I would freeze up and begin to sketch, unable to help myself any longer. I forced my eyes downward, away from her. I chewed my bottom lip as I thought of the best way to explain this to her. I decided on the truth.
“Um…I can’t explain it, but I feel like I could learn so much from you. I saw you with your class earlier. You were really amazing. There was a reason they clapped for you at the end. It’s more than a bunch of poses. The way you talk to people, the way you get them to move and laugh and clear out things, no matter what…it’s breath-taking. I want to do that, but I can’t get out of my own head, much less coax someone out of theirs. So…I need help. I’m not exactly sure how to go about each session, but that’s what I’m here to learn.” I hadn’t looked at her the entire time. I picked my fingernails, twirled my pen, folded and refolded the sheet of paper from my notepad. Anything to avoid eye contact and to keep myself focused.
I chanced a look up at her although I refused to move my head and I saw that she had narrowed her eyes at me just a little. I was grateful for it because then I could only see a couple of the devastating colors in her eyes. Her smiled disappeared for just a second and her lips relaxed, wide and full. They looked soft, like they should have been painted with pastels and smudges so they looked almost like velvet. Just as soon though, her smirk was back and I got the impression that somehow she had knocked down some sort of wall within herself, but put it back up just as quickly.
“Of course, Grace. I’d be glad to be your mentor.” Relieved, I smiled easily and looked to her to see if the wall or whatever it was that was between us was back in place. Sure enough, whatever it was that I had seen when her smile faded was gone. Her eyes were clear and an eyebrow was raised in that rakish expression that she often wore.
I checked the watch on my phone and she peered over to see the time. “I’ve got a class to teach, but I’m around all day. Let me know if you’d like to get tea or something in the cafe.” Cory smiled at me, that small enigmatic one and I resisted the urge to immediately begin sketching her yet again. I nodded to her and watched her walk away, except her walking was more like loping. Her long legs carried her with a graceful bound out of the conference room and toward the yoga studio.
I made my way back to the front desk slowly, taking a moment to appreciate the beautiful calm of the conference room. Everyone was gone, but the room was filled with the leftover energy. I took a deep breath and smiled. I was a long way from being as outgoing as I wanted to be, but at least now I had someone willing to talk me through the journey.
- Notes on Grace Part 1 (averyrfox.wordpress.com)
- Notes on Grace Part 2 (averyrfox.wordpress.com)
- Notes on Grace Part 3 (averyrfox.wordpress.com)