Creative non-fiction piece about intigrating back into life in the city after 6 years living in an ashram. There is a tragic event in the next installment.
I watch the legs of Kenyan Benard Onsare glide by on his way to win the Vancouver Marathon. From my perch at the street side Starbucks his legs appear to move effortlessly. It’s a scene of grace and beauty with the morning sun gleaming off his perspiration damp African skin, his elegance framed by the wide limbed trees framing Kitsalino beach and the North Shore Mountains in the distance. It takes stamina and a good set of legs to win a marathon.
My legs were not under me last summer, just a couple of months after my move to the city. I had left behind six years of quasi cloistered life at a rural Ashram. Everything seemed to be moving pretty quickly back then as Elizabeth and I were trying to catch the flow and swell of our new west coast urban life.
One summer’s evening we left the isolation of our apartment and after a few blocks entered the casual strolling mood along the beachside walkway. Groups of young people were whooping it up over nothing, yet the excitement of their youth seemed to emphasize my feelings of disconnection. I experienced an all too familiar sense of separation, of looking out at the bronze beauty of the place and being captivated by its image, wanting to be part of the continuous atmosphere of celebration – a celebration of the flesh. Yet there I was, once again, on the other side of it.
We pass the bump and grind at the beach volleyball courts. Suntanned legs diving in the sand and sweat spraying into the evening sun. There are the familiar multicultural family gatherings with the screams of children mixed and grandmothers being honorably served by the children’s parents. Then an old acquaintance, “Hey look who’s here, we heard you were back in town, ” Sutton says as we approach the beach house. She’s dished out in evening dinner dress looking like a Hollywood starlet in her aged decline. As the orange sun dips behind Vancouver Island Elizabeth and I recount our recent transition. I talk about my integration into city life, “how living a social life seems to be as challenging as living a spiritual life, except there is a lot more distractions.”