Years ago, before the Internet blossomed into its present promiscuousness, before WIFI and broadband begat webcams and email became effortless, my beloved, the light of my life, my soul mate, lived in Pittsburgh.
I, alas, lived in Los Angeles.
Rising at 4:00, her time, Sat Siri, as my beloved is known in yoga circles, does a rigorous hour of yoga, bathes, eats a quick breakfast. At 4:00, my time, just before leaving for work, she calls and we chat for a few minutes.
Then she readies herself for a day as a university lecturer, where she is known by a more conventional name, the appellation of her Irish ancestors.
I share all this to emphasize that she is a solid citizen, a respected academic. Not a weirdo. Not crazy.
She was then perhaps a year from finishing her doctoral dissertation. After that she would look for a job; once she found it, I’d sell my house, pull up stakes, follow her. We would marry and start a life together.
One December morn my beloved begins our conversation with an apology. She eavesdropped, she says, on my dreams. Having yielded to a jealous impulse to check on me, she asks my forgiveness.
Whoa. Back up. Eavesdropping on dreams?
Come on. Get real.
“You went to a party yesterday afternoon,” she says.
“I told you, My cousin’s annual Hanukkah get-together.”
Mitch is a sort of shirttail cousin and softball buddy. But Sat Siri never met him, nor have I described him or his apartment.
“A man taller than you was frying pancakes,” she says.
Most men are taller than me. And one might suppose that people make potato pancakes, latkes, at a Hanukkah party.
“He’s slender. Salt-and-pepper beard,” she says. “Trimmed close.”
That’s Mitch. I’m intrigued.
“But that isn’t important, dearest,” she continues. “I want to talk about your dream.”
“I’m not on board yet. Finish setting the scene.”
“You’re in a corner on a kind of ugly yellow, almost mustard, sofa. To your right is a bigger sofa, sort of a burnt orange color, Above it is a Chagall print, the cow with a parasol. There’s an older man, very heavy, bald, sitting to your left. On your right, facing you but so close that your knees almost touch, is a pretty woman about my age. Red hair pulled into a bun. Flaming red hair.”
Every hair on my body springs to attention.
“Go on,” I say
“She has large blue eyes and very good skin. Slender, but, uh, buxom. And showing a lot of skin. Uh, cleavage. You’re looking at her breasts and you’re thinking—”
“Hold on,” I interrupt.
What was I thinking? I wonder. And how could Sat Siri know?
“I’m sorry,” she says. “This isn’t fair to you. I’m not supposed to do things like this.”
“What, exactly, did you do?”
“I left my body to visit you on the astral plane,” she sighs.
Sat Siri is a yogini, a yoga master, an incarnation of the sacred feminine force of tantric yoga. She has spoken more than once about journeys on the astral plane. Now I realize that I have not really listened.
“But how did I get on the astral plane?”
“Your energy, chi—your life force—is always present there. Everyone’s is.”
“I don’t know about this,” I say, still wondering what I’d thought when I looked into the redhead’s fabulous blue eyes, at her enticing bosom. And hoping that whatever it was then wasn’t what I now thought it was.
“You were talking to this—she’s a flight attendant?”
“That’s what she said. ”
“And you were thinking, ‘She’s coming on to me.’”
That’s exactly what I was thinking.
“And then you thought, “But I am with Sat Siri, and it would hurt her if I even considered seeing this woman, so now I’m going to tune her out and think about how to tighten the chapter I’m writing, make it shorter and more dramatic.”
“My God!” I say. “How do you do that?”
“I listened to your dreams, dearest. But I promise, never again. And I’m so proud of you! I love you without limits. You are my hero,” she says.
Then we talk about my impending trip to Pittsburgh and the moment is gone.
But I’m a little freaked out. I seek my rabbi’s counsel. He has met Sat Siri and knows how I feel about her.
He listens, stroking his curly beard, showing no surprise whatever.
“Rabbinical literature is sprinkled with stories about mystics and saintly rabbis leaving their bodies to converse with angels, or to perform vital deeds or good works in distant locations,” he explains. “some notable rabbis were reportedly seen in two places hundreds of miles apart at the same hour of the same day. The Zohar discusses various techniques for accessing what some call the astral plane.“
The Zohar. Kabbalah. Jewish mysticism.
He says that Sat Siri is, perhaps, an adept in an ancient art that was once the secret of holy men, a sort of white magic. There are many paths to the astral plane, he continues, including Jewish paths. There are many forms of yoga. Sat Siri’s form of yoga, the Tantric, is very powerful. It is not a forbidden path, but neither is it a Jewish path.
It’s a lot to think about.
Early in our relationship, Sat Siri and I had discussed religion. Tantric yoga techniques draw, in part, on Sikh theology and practices, but she regarded herself as a Christian and believed that yoga presented no religious conflict. My Jewishness, she said, was admirable. “Just be as good a Jew as you were a soldier,” she told me. “That’s all I ever want of you.”
I’d never told her much about my Army career, so I asked how she knew that I had been a good soldier.
“Call it female intuition,” she said. “Anyway, how could you have served so many years if you weren’t good at it?”
True enough, I’d thought, and put it out of mind. But now I realized that she knew more about me than I could ever have told her.
So I began to study Torah and Talmud. I prayed more often and with greater intensity. I began to live a more observant life. But now I can’t stop thinking about Sat Siri’s astral eavesdropping. She meant no harm, and sharing this dimension of her life helped us to grow even closer. But from that time on, I begin to notice how perceptive she was. When we are together she often seems to know my thoughts. I am not secretive; I show my feelings. Still, I begin to suspect that she eavesdropped, perhaps even monitored my libido, via some mysterious astral connection.
I am a man in good health and interested in women. Yet, loyal to a lover 2,000 miles distant, I think about sex far more often than I enjoy it. It crosses my mind, from time to time, watching a firm feminine body working out at the gym, or passing a beauty in a supermarket aisle or making casual eye contact at a social gathering, that it would be nice to…. But then, no. I remember, Sat Siri might be tuned in. And I switch my attention.
Little by little, I begin to resent it.
Sat Siri’s dissertation research encounters academic roadblocks. A year becomes two. I look for some way to move to Pittsburgh, but nothing works out. And as time passes and our visits become less frequent, as she further immerses herself in the tantric lifestyle, I feel her entering a strange cosmos. I feel her moving past me, away from me.
One evening she calls and I can tell she is weeping. She knows this will hurt me, she says. But she must tell me: She cannot marry me.
“You need a Jewish wife,” she says.
It is exactly what I’ve been thinking.
“I can’t ever be that wife,” she says. “I love you, but I can’t be with you in all the ways you need me. It isn’t fair to you. It isn’t good for me.”
She is right.
And so we part. She moves on, changes her phone, disappears.
I never found that Jewish wife.
And sometimes I awaken long before dawn, sensing Sat Siri’s presence. Is she on the astral plane, I wonder, tuning in my chi?
Or do I just miss her?
Either way, I think about having loved Sat Siri. About having been loved by her. Comforted, I drift back to sleep.
© 2001 Marvin J. Wolf
FROM Marvin J. Wolf
On this page are true stories, magazine articles, excerpts from books and unpublished works, short fiction, and photographs, each offering a glimpse of my life, work and times. I'll be posting weekly. Your comments welcome. © Marvin J. Wolf. All rights reserved.