He didn’t fit right in, but at least watching a grown man with muscles on top of muscles trying to do a sun salutation was the highlight of my life—and of the lives of all the women in class that morning.
“Now travel from cobra to downward dog to pigeon with controlled movement,” Toby instructed.
Graham groaned, doing the movements but complaining the whole time. “Cobra, pigeon, camel—why is every move named after a sex position?” he asked.
I giggled. “You know, most people would say those are named after animals, Graham Cracker, not sex positions.”
He turned my way and after a second, realization broke through. A tiny smile formed. “Touché.”
“You’re super tight,” the instructor noted to Graham as he walked around to help him.
“Oh, no, you don’t have to—” Graham started, but it was too late. Toby was helping adjust his hips.
“Relax,” Toby said in his soothing voice. “Relax.”
“It’s hard to relax when a stranger is touching my—” Graham’s eyes widened. “Yup, that’s my penis. You are actually touching my penis,” Graham muttered as the instructor helped him with one of the positions.
I couldn’t stop giggling at how ridiculous and uncomfortable Graham looked. His face was so stern, and when Toby made Graham pop his butt out, I had tears rolling down my cheeks from laughter.
“Okay, class, one final breath. In with the good energies, out with the bad. Namaste.” Toby bowed to us all, and Graham just stayed there, lying on the floor in a pile of sweat, tears, and his manhood.
I kept giggling to myself. “Come on, get up.” I reached down to him, and he took my hand as I pulled him up. As he stood up, he shook his nasty, sweaty hair all over me. “Ew! That’s disgusting.”
With a sly smile, he said, “You made me get touched in public, so you get to enjoy the sweat.”
“Trust me, you’re lucky it’s Toby who touched you instead of the women who are currently gawking at you over in the corner right now.”
He turned to see the women staring his way, waving. “You women and your sex-driven minds,” he joked.
“Says the man who does camel as a sex position. What do you do exactly? Do you just sit on your knees and like”—I thrust my hips—“do this repeatedly?” I kept making the humping motion, which turned Graham’s face even redder than it had been during the class.
“Stop humping the air.”
“I would, but your embarrassment is too rewarding right now.” I laughed. He was so easily humiliated, and I knew being around me in public would be awful for him. I’d take every opportunity to make myself look like a fool. “Okay, so needless to say, hot yoga isn’t your thing.”
“Not at all. If anything, I feel more stressed out, and a pinch violated,” he joked.
“Well, let me try a few more things to see if they help you.”
He cocked an eyebrow as if he could read my mind. “You’re going to sage my house, aren’t you? Or put crystals on my windowsills?”
“Oh yeah.” I nodded. “I’m going to weird hippie the crap out of your house, and then you’re going to help me in the garden.”
I spent the next few weeks out in the backyard, teaching Graham the ins and outs of gardening. We planted fruits, vegetables, and beautiful flowers. I made lines of sunflowers that would look so beautiful as they grew tall over time. In one corner of the yard was a stone bench, which would be perfect for morning energy meditations and great as an afternoon reading corner. I surrounded it with beautiful flowers that would light up the area—Peruvian lilies, nepeta faasseniis, coreopsis, forget-me-nots, and gloriosa daisies. The colors would be beautiful mixed together. The pinks, blues, yellows, and purples would add a pop of color to Graham’s life, that was for sure.
As the baby monitor started going off, Graham stood up from the dirt. “I’ll get her.”
Only a few minutes passed before I heard him shouting my name.
I sat up in the dirt, alarmed by the urgency in Graham’s shout.
I shot up to my feet, my heart pounding in my chest, dirt across my face, and I sprinted into the house. “What is it?!” I hollered back.
“In the living room! Hurry!” he shouted once more.
I ran, terrified about what I was about to witness, and when I made it into the space, my heart landed in my throat as I wrapped my hands over my mouth. “Oh my gosh,” I said, my eyes watering over as I looked at Talon.
“I know, right?” Graham said, smiling at his daughter. For a long time, he’d tried his best to hold in his grins, but he hadn’t been able to lately. The more Talon laughed and smiled, the more she opened Graham’s heart.
He was holding Talon in his arms, feeding her.
Well, he wasn’t feeding her—she was feeding herself, holding the bottle in her own hands for the first time.
My heart exploded with excitement.
“I was feeding her, and she wrapped her hands around the bottle and started to hold it herself,” he told me, his eyes wide with pride.
As we cheered her on, Talon started giggling and spat milk into Graham’s face, making us both laugh. I grabbed a cloth and wiped the milk from his cheek.
“She amazes me every day,” he said, staring at his daughter. “It’s too bad that Jane…” He paused. “That Lyric is missing out on it. She has no clue what she left behind.”
I nodded in agreement. “She’s missing everything. It’s just sad.”
“What was it like, growing up together?” he asked.
I was a bit surprised—we’d spent months together and he hadn’t once asked me any questions about my sister.
I sat on the couch beside him and shrugged. “We moved around a lot. Our mom was a bit of a floater, and when my dad couldn’t take any more, he left us. Lyric was older and noticed more issues than Mari and I did. Every day with my mother felt like a new adventure. The lack of a real home never bothered me because we had each other, and whenever we needed something, some kind of miracle would happen.
“But Lyric didn’t see it that way. She was very much like our father—grounded. She hated not knowing where our next meal would come from. She hated that sometimes Mama would give what little money we did have to help out a friend in need. She hated the instability of our lives, so when she’d finally had enough, when she could no longer take the person Mama was, she did exactly as our father had—she left.”
“She’s always been a runner,” he stated.
“Yes, and a part of me wants to hate her for how distant and cold she became, but another part understands. She had to grow up fast, and in a way, Lyric wasn’t wrong. Our mother was kind of a child herself, which meant we didn’t have much parenting growing up. Lyric felt as if she had to take on that role and parent her parent.”
“Which is why she probably never wanted kids,” he said. “She’d already done the parent role.”