Sixteenth Sim of Thirty Sims at Three Rivers
16. The gap inside is filled with presence
Savannah Trejo loved to watch her young wife. Sierra moved with calmness. To be near her was to sit beneath a willow on a summer afternoon. Worries drifted away with the dandelion puffs.
In the few years they’d been married, frenzy had dissolved from Savannah’s life–this, despite being the mother to two teens: Elaine, the foster child that Sierra and Savannah legally adopted, and Leigh, Savannah’s natural-born daughter.
The girls weren’t angels: Elaine fell into moods, and Leigh would do nearly anything to pull off a successful prank. But somehow, Sierra made it seem that everything was ok: even the tension of Elaine’s hormonal cliffs and valleys or the principal’s call after an entire row of lockers were sealed shut with Leigh’s favorite brand of bubblegum.
For Sierra, life–in all its complications–was simple: accept everything. Nothing lasts, so nothing need be clung to nor resisted.
Shortly after they’d first met, Savannah tried to learn Sierra’s secret.
They sat together at a café, and Savannah leaned over the table to look into Sierra’s eyes.
“How do you do it?” she asked.
When Savannah finally managed to explain what she was asking, which was challenging because she wasn’t sure herself, Sierra just laughed.
“There’s no trick!” she said. “Do you remember when you were a baby?”
Savannah shook her head. “I don’t remember anything before Leigh was born. I mean, I know the facts, but I don’t remember how anything felt. It’s as if my life ended and then started again. Everything from before is merely hypothetical. Do you remember?”
“I do!” said Sierra. Sierra’s earliest memories were of lying in her crib while the sunlight poured in through the nursery windows. “Happiness, I discovered, was as easy as holding my toes! As natural as the sunlight! That’s all there is to it,” she explained. “Simply breathe! We have more than we need to be happy! We have everything.”
Savannah loved to watch Sierra walk through the park behind their home.
“Are you meditating?” she asked sometimes.
“I’m walking,” Sierra replied. “Walking and breathing and feeling the soles of my feet on the earth.”
Savannah walked through the park while Sierra did a sun salutation. She wondered if she could walk long enough that her thoughts would stop. She wanted to ask Sierra if her thoughts stopped while she practiced walking meditation, but Sierra was in the middle of her yoga routine. Savannah continued to walk the path as it wound past the garden, behind their house, through the many arches and back past the sunny lawn where her young wife practiced yoga. With each step, she watched her breath. One, two, three, four–on the inhale. One, two, three, four, five–on the exhale.
With each inhale, she thought: I walk on the earth. With each exhale: the ground is beneath me. With the next inhale: the sky is above me. Exhale: the ground is beneath. Around and around. Her feet sounded on the cement pathway, and the sound resonated inside.
She stopped to watch Sierra finish the routine. Stillness within, stillness without.
“I think my thoughts stopped,” she said to Sierra, while Sierra rolled the yoga mat.
They held hands and walked together down the path, while slowly thoughts found their ways back into the minds of each woman.
“Let’s have salad and scrambled eggs for supper!” Sierra said.
They met a community gardener on the way home.
“Oh! We should tell her about the next Green Party meeting!” Sierra said.
Savannah watched the two women talk. Her mind still had so much space within–is this what peace feels like? We don’t need the Green Party, Savannah thought. All we need is this. Stillness and quiet.
They said goodbye to the gardener, who’d promised to attend their next rally, and as they approached the street, they came upon an old man.
“Good evening, M. Deveralle,” Sierra said.
“Ah, ma belle!” said the old man. “What is the young rebel doing wandering through the park this fine evening?”
As they chatted, Savannah learned of the old man’s experience with political reform. “We will change the old ways once again,” he said. “You tell that to Alec. All he needs to do is call. I am always ready for the consultation.”
They bid goodnight to Claude Deveralle and walked the rest of the way home.
“He was once the leader of the Socialist Movement,” Sierra said.
“That old man?” Savannah asked.
“That man,” Sierra replied. “He has such stories to tell. Such experience.”
Savannah sat at the counter while Sierra chopped the salad.
“Are you sad, dear?” she asked.
“Oh,” said Sierra, “I suppose so. It will pass.”
A hot shower, the supper of salad and scrambled eggs, and the sadness lifted and jokes flowed between the two.
And then the doors slammed and the two daughters were home.
“School is the biggest crock of garbage,” pronounced Elaine. She sat on the couch and glared.
While Savannah washed the dishes, Sierra sat next to her, not talking, simply sitting, smiling, resting and breathing. Elaine sighed and leaned against her mother. “If only everyone were like you,” she said.
Before bed, Leigh came down with an announcement.
“I’ve figured it out. I want to be a botanist. Either that or an astronaut. No, a botanist. Do you think that botanists make good money?”
Her mothers laughed.
“I doubt that many botanists become botanists for the money,” said Savannah.
“No,” said Sierra, “but you know? There are so many good jobs for botanists! And for gardeners, too! And if Alec wins, Three Rivers will be hiring even more of both!”
“I think I’ll be a botanist,” repeated Leigh. “I like trees.”
After the girls went up to their rooms, Sierra and Savannah tidied up the living room, putting away the books and magazines, watering the house plants, folding the afghans and comforters.
“I hope our daughters pick up something of you,” Savannah said, “so that when they move out into this big world, they’ll always have a center of calm, like we do, here in our home.”
“They’ll live their own way,” Sierra replied, “for it’s their lives, isn’t it?”