Hands and Hats

You walk late into the philosophy class.  You carry a name I want, you are wearing a hat with a pompom.  You sit next to your friend.  Your friend made space for me before the class; you sit behind me.

After a minute or two you interrupt the teacher by saying: “I am sorry I was late, but can you please give an overview of what you have been talking about.”  You have the nerve.  You have a point.  There are a total of 5 words written on the white board, all in sanskrit.  We have only talked about the first one so far (avidya, ignorance) and by now got bewilderingly derailed.  The quick summary from the teacher doesn’t help much.  Your friend shrugs her shoulders.  I show you my notebook in which I wrote “kleshas, 5 causes of affliction/suffering”.  You nod and sit quietly for another minute.  Then you ask an irrelevant question out loud.  You publicize your qualifications (which are somewhat  impressive).  You say “like” after every other word.  Oh god can we get back to the lecture?

When we eventually get to aversions (you speak up again then, confrontationally), the teacher says “now I am probably going to offend a lot of people…”  I prepare to laugh: those are usually funny.  Instead, I feel slightly offended by what follows, misunderstood, no point to argue.  I sit still, holding my breath; this class is not going well.  That’s when I feel your hands on my shoulders.  You press the fingers into the upper traps, run them over the bottom of my neck.  I’m too tight for you to get through like this, but I appreciate the touch.  Did you know I would be offended?  Did you sense that?  I turn and smile at you over my shoulder.

As we rearrange ourselves into a circle for the meditation, you stroke my behatted head.  Then again: my hat is remarkably soft, organic cotton, hand-knit.  It feels delightful to wear, pleasant to stroke, yummy to feel stroked through.  “Did you make that?” Devon on my right asks; I did.  You stroke it again and move closer to take a look.  “Did you? You should teach us all.”  “Sure,” I smirk, “tell me when.”  I touch the pompom on your hat.  It’s not that cold; we don’t really have to wear hats inside or, for that matter, outside, but it’s fun; besides, my hair needs a cut badly.  Our undercuts are on the opposite sides.  Your small warm right hand lands upon my small cold left hand on the floor: you are checking out the rings.  I wonder if we could sit holding hands in meditation.  Probably not in this class.


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