Body Wisdom & Uncompromising Portraits
Body Wisdom & Uncompromising Portraits
I think I noticed the bare feet first. He didn't bother wearing shoes inside or out. The odd shop he owned was just up the street from the library where I shuffled books around and dreamed of writing one myself someday.
I just stared at his feet when I first saw them.
"Can I help you?" I heard him say.
Startled, I looked up and saw his face. Everything about him was unremarkable, from the bare feet, plain blue jeans and faded blue sweatshirt, to his pleasant bearded face and the long brown hair he tied in a simple ponytail. Everything was unremarkable but his eyes, and those were stunning, filled with a odd light that was earthy and ethereal at the same time. I'd never seen any eyes quite like his.
"Help me?" I was just a little flustered. "I guess I'm just browsing."
"If there's anything I can help you find . . ." he said.
"Thank you." I nodded and smiled pleasantly.
I figured him for nearly thirty, though there was a certain agelessness about him. I think it was the beard that suggested he was far beyond youth. I noticed then how his body moved gracefully, as if he was one with the ground, attached by some cosmic force. It was an odd thought for me; I'm not given to seeing cosmic forces in people. I wondered if perhaps it was just the music playing in the background of the shop, something so resonant and calming that I felt swept into a strange altered state.
He went back to sweeping leaves out the back door, as I continued to inspect the shop.
I knew very little about the barefoot proprietor, except that he'd taken over the old stone cottage where there was an enormous garden behind. I suppose he sold things he loved, because the shop had that kind of look to it. Everything seemed tied to some general theme, though that theme eluded me. There was handmade pottery, plants, incense, books on Tai Chi, wild flower seeds, dried flowers, baskets, and CD's of music with strange sounding names and curious pictures on their covers. In every corner I found something to be amazed at. All together in one place, I wondered what inspired this man. What was inside him to create this distinctive blend?
The shop made great sense in a quaint resort town like Shelter Bay, where artists and their patrons flock to do business. The town had attracted me, though I was hardly an artist. At least I've never thought of myself that way, in spite of the arty things I often did.
I poked about the shop for at least a half hour, and then noticing the clock, I was about to leave, my lunch time over.
"You're the librarian, aren't you?" he said, as I was moving to the front door. I was surprised by his voice, and the way it caressed me with its gentle resonant tone. I turned to see his warm smile.
He moved toward me, and reached out to pull a lock of my hair off my face as if it was bothering me. Such a familiar gesture for a stranger. And yet, it was done so honestly, I was awed by the tenderness that passed between us with the simple act. "I just wanted to see your eyes better," he explained.
"That makes sense," I said without thinking.
"Why's that?" he asked curiously.
"Because yours are . . . " I paused, thinking how foolish this must sound. "Your eyes are startling."
"I'll take that as a compliment," he returned.
"Please do." I waited for him to say something in the awkward moment that followed, but he just stared at me. Only once in a while am I taken so off guard by a man, and this one had me totally dazed. "Yes, I work at the library," I told him.
He nodded, and I remember thinking as I slipped out the door, how much I'd like to sit and gaze at his face for hours.
There was a fluttering in my tummy and a burning sensation between my legs, whenever my mind wandered back to him. I sat on my stool at the library pressing myself into the cushion, squirming all afternoon. The picture of hi