Ryley sits down like, Finally! Let’s do this thing, I’ve only been waiting millions of years.
Because it's what’s happening anyway, I focus on allowing sexual energy to arise fully & be felt in the body, without needing to lead to anything. There is just this gazing, this being gazed at, this drawing. There are clear boundaries, and no one is looking for anything. Here we are, sitting opposite one another at this borrowed table, in this weird underground mall in Roanoke, participating in the Flatline the Pipeline Festival.
Feeling, this is young man energy. Seeing the strength and newness of neck-muscle, shoulder, Adam’s apple.
Feeling, this is experienced woman energy. Being seen in this form, steady, grounded & tender. No one’s mother, and everyone’s.
Feeling, this is what sexual energy is like – a compass needle pointing north, a deep well opening down, a ground, a grace.
Resting in goodwill towards everything that is arising, delicious, open & non-compulsive.
There is permission for me to see what I see, and to be seen. There is permission for Ryley to see what he sees, and to be seen. For work-study, Ryley tells me he grows bromeliads and catnip in a greenhouse. He is 20 years old. As he speaks, all the young men from Virginia who went to die in the battlefields around us become present to me, and then dissipate. I am glad Ryley is not one of them.
I ask, are you totally stoned right now? Because it seems so. No, but I’ve had a few beers. Do I seem totally stoned?
Yes and no. Noticing what drinking does to consciousness: it opens sexual energy, and also it takes the edge off of that opening. But edge is important, and awkward is important. I am holding center, while part of me feels stoned, gazing at this kid & being in his gaze. We are having the time of our lives, abiding in this wild calm gaze, while a truly good band plays Me and Bobby McGee. I think of Ryley’s mother.
Ryley says, after that, I need to give you a hug. He’s tall, taller than me, and gentle. We wrap our arms around one another, and there is nothing at all to get tangled in. We are immaculately untangled.
He chooses an Inner Beauty Passport with the terracotta warriors of Xian on it, and tells me, None of them are the same. He’s right: no one is the same, and there no regrets to be had, anywhere, at last, Amen.
Julie Püttgen is an artist and meditation teacher.
108 Names of now