[Ed. note: This post is authored by ATL guest columnist Hope Winters. Hope is an early retired lawyer, turned Senate staffer, turned corporate lobbyist. She lives in Washington, DC. Read her previous work here. Read part I of this piece here.]
After this dinner I’m still starving from, we hop into the car to drive to the purported “private” room we paid extra for. Now I’m really starting to believe murder or rape is a foregone conclusion. I attract criminals like Jewish men attract Asian girls. And here’s the thing, there’s nothing to stop anyone from doing anything. We’re not allowed to lock either our door nor the front door to the Brady Brunchesque house we will be staying in tonight. Our “private” room is in this house. I said a private room. Like hotel room. Not a room in some random family’s house. Not some room I’m not allowed to lock.
As I enter the spacious open living room containing a lot blue mats and a lot small purple chairs for meditation, I find a DVD player. Excellent. Civility. I’ll just do my Denise Austin Yoga for Abs video and skip class tomorrow. It’s almost pitch black in the room because not only do these people not eat, they don’t do electricity.
I walk over to the big glass window peering out over the water — trying to find the lake, and then, I hear this boy’s voice.
“Hey.” I turn around quickly.
Plaid flannel shirt. Black wire rimmed glasses. Scruffy beard. Red North Face jacket. So Ted Bundy.
I have met my maker.
Can Hope survive her first encounter with Ashram men? Non-homicidal details after the jump.
“Hi.” I smile. “Aren’t you not supposed to be talking to me?” I take two steps back. (Where in the hell is Olivia?)
“We’re allowed to talk here at the house.” He comes closer to me.
“Are you sure?” I look at him quizzically. I kind of want to talk to him even though he may kill me or rape me. He’s a wackadoo. I can tell. He’s got a story.
I want the story.
“How long have you been here?” I ask him the question a new prisoner would ask an old timer.
“Oh, I just got here yesterday.”
“And what do you think? Do you like it?” I whisper . . . just in case they are listening.
“Oh yeah. It’s phenomenal.” He stretches his arms up to the sky and arches his back.
“What’s so phenomenal about it?” I don’t understand these people. I want inner peace! I can’t get it! Why can’t I get it?
“Everything. It’s just awesome.”
“Like what?” I want specifics. “Like what have you done today?”
“Well today, I slept. And then I went to yoga.”
“You slept? You paid to come here and sleep?”
“Yeah. Well. To rest, you know.”
“You could’ve done that at home.”
“No, really. You can’t. It’s so peaceful here. You can’t get that kind of rest in the city.”
“Yes, you can. I’ll give you a Lunesta.” I roll my eyes.
I turn to walk toward the window trying to find the big white Lotus temple. He’s annoying me. He came here to sleep? Total slacker.
“Well, you can hike tomorrow. The lake is really pristine. Just beautiful.”
“Aren’t you cold?” I rub my hands. “It’s freezing in this house.”
“No. You just need a lot of blankets.” Mental note to self. Get ten.
He goes on to tell me about his weird job as a Dining Captain of some exclusive women’s club and about all the shallow women who drink Chardonnay at lunch and pretend the world financial markets haven’t collapsed. (He’s kind of talking about me and my friends.) He goes on to tell he opted not to get employer-sponsored health insurance because such insurance didn’t include yoga. Is he a moron? What health insurance plan covers yoga? Insurance companies barely cover surgeries and C-sections these days.
I’m over him. I admit it. He kind of has a Walt Whitman thing going. And I was kind of hoping he could be my Deepak and we’d hook up breaking the all the rules about sexual detachment. (I could actually go for an Ashram scandal). But this isn’t worth it. I’m over Transcendentalism now. I’d rather go sleep with Olivia. So I bolt.
I eat a Luna bar. I pop a Lunesta. I pop a muscle relaxer. My neck hurts from the Dining Captain. I go to the bathroom like nine times because I’ve had like ten liters of water.
When I wake up, I am 100 percent certain that I have walking pneumonia. My chest is boney, and it aches; my feet are the color of violets. This isn’t humane. I tried six blankets Mr. Dining Captain, and I still can see my breath. I mean I did not come here to end up in a hospital. This is not Love In The Time of Hypothermia.
“I am freezing! Let’s get the hell out of here. I’m done.” I start packing my bag.
“Well, let me see if Prini will fix it. I’ll go talk to her.” Olivia has lost her mind from the Artic wind.
“Are you kidding me? These granolas aren’t going to fix this! They like peace, and we are whiners. Spoiled brat city girls. That’s what they’re going to think. You know people hate us.” I throw my green tea exfoliator into my bag.
“Let’s just go. They can keep their money. I’m saving myself anyway because I won’t have to go to the ER now for hypothermia or rape from the Dining Captain.”
We argue. We sit on the twin beds. We reflect. We hug. We cry. The
Ashram is testing us in ways we never expected because we really are spoiled brat little princesses. I’m just like Social Security – an entitlement.
But today, we decide. We’re going to be open-minded. We’re going give Jonestown one more try. I declare myself unshowered and refuse to wash my hair or shave my legs. I’m going Native.
Then I remember. They don’t have coffee here.
I’m two things and two things consistently: i) a drunk-arexic (I drink all my calories and skip meals), and ii) a caffeineaholic (must have a least two Grandes per day).
“Olivia,” I gently pull her elbow as we exit Mike Brady’s house. “Can you do one favor for me?”
“Don’t wig out okay? Promise? Listen . . . . I really need a coffee.” I whisper lest they hear I’m leaving the compound for moonshine.
“You think you could drive me up to that heehaw gas station down the street? I’ll jump out really fast. Promise.”
“Okay. No problem.” She acquiesces. Wow. Olivia is pliable. The Ashram is getting to her and so not to me. I can so get what I want out of her now.
As we drive down the circular dirt road, Olivia, a paranoid schizophrenic by nature, slow downs the car. “Look, Hope! Look at all those hunters! All these freaking hunters! With dogs too. What are they doing?”
I crane my neck out of the car window. Camouflaged outfits, big dogs, guns in hand. I don’t know. I think the whole thing is pretty hot.
“They’re just hunters. Big deal. Hey, I think the gas station is right there.”
Two really big men with guns and dogs are exiting the station as we pull up in the granola girl Hybrid.
“This is freaky, Hope. I’m not going in.” She stops the car. Oh please. She’s from Texas. Like she hasn’t seen a hunter.
“No worries. I’ll be right back.” I’m not scared. These are my peeps.
They have cups of Joe and are smoking. God I so want a cigarette. But I quit. And I supposed to be detoxing.
I get the coffee, and we bolt. Ah. I’m waking up. I just want to go to fetus yoga again, but Olivia has to suddenly stop. The dogs are wandering aimlessly through the woods – and the hot hunters are trailing behind them.
“Oh, good lord. Can you stop with the hunters? They are just killing deer. There are too many of them anyway.” I slide into my seat, turn up the music and close my eyes as she whips out her camera.
“No. That’s not it. Do you see all these trees? All these trees that are cleared? What the hell is going on here?”
“Hey sweets, this isn’t a Greenpeace weekend. This is a detox inner peace weekend. Now, chop chop. Let’s get back to the Shram. We can maybe hit the ten o’clock class.”
But oh no. The crunchy enviro who has some ocean listed as her life insurance policy beneficiary has to go out and document the clearing. I sip my gasoline coffee and let her take her photos. Who is she going to send these to by the way? The General Counsel of The Environmental Defense Fund? Who is going to save the trees?
Answer: No one. Let’s roll.
The quest to find enlightenment during the recession continues later this week.
Earlier: The Return of Hope During the Recession: Adventures at The Ashram (Part I)