It was a wet morning; a light drizzle had been working its way through the night and it didn’t look like it would end anytime soon. I would usually sleep in on such a day. Alas, my eyes were wide open at 6 am.
“A morning walk in the rain?”
The air was heavy and damp. The trees were bowing over as the drenched leaves drooped really close to the top of my head. A steady orchestra of pitter-pattering accompanied me as I walked alone. The wet trail was mostly deserted, which pleased me. I haven’t had a peaceful walk since people decided that nature parks were the places to go during a pandemic.
I was wearing my daughter’s poncho, a bright blue with thick white linings. It has a plastic hoodie that looks like a hazmat suit and I had it snugly wrapped around my head. I haven’t worn a poncho since I was twelve, and my daughter is twelve. It was anything but fashionable, and I could marginally pass off as a weirdo.
But it was ok.
I was alone.
Not for very long though. I felt the gentle vibrations, a steady thumping of the boardwalk I was walking on. A jogger was heading my way. Somewhat annoyed with the company and maybe also apologetic for my sore presence, I did my best to keep to the edge of the path and hung my head low. It was a narrow path, barely a meter wide. When we cross path, it would still be almost shoulder-brushing. “Well, at least it would only last a second.” My loud mind always has a way of comforting me.
But who would guess that in a second,
the heart could be stolen.
The voice was so light and soft. As if someone had gently picked me up in an embrace to protect me from the harshness of the world. To give me the much-needed warmth for the cold morning.
It was perfectly timed. He didn’t slow down his pace. But at the moment he was right beside me, he only had to whisper for me to hear him. A gift just for me. I concluded he must have shared the same appreciation that I had for the stillness and silence this morning.
It felt so certain and unrehearsed. Like it was the most natural thing in the world to wish me a good morning, and most locals will tell you this is not natural in our country. We don’t greet strangers. Period. It brought down all my guard. Instinctively I returned the same words, so softly, in my sweetest maiden voice.
All these in barely a second.
I don’t know what he looked like. I never looked.
Yet he had moved my soul.
If I was my dreamy teenager self, I would have sworn this was love. But because I am now married with an almost-teenage-child, and had spent most of my career in relentless self-observation, contemplations, and study, I could grin in this moment of inner exhilaration without concluding I have fallen in love. At least not in the usual sense of romantic love. It is not a person that I seek.
It was something about the warmth, the presence, the intentionality, the thoughtfulness… It’s really a gentleness that I long for. It struck me how simple it was for it to be given and yet gift such a profound experience.
In a world where everything can feel a bit noisy, jarring and intrusive, this was a breath of fresh air.
I didn’t look back; I don’t need anything more from him. There was nothing that he had that I don’t. The gentleness he shared was also mine. I wrapped it around me like a warm cloak.
Threading gently along.