Lines in the Sand: A Goddess Divided.
“California” — I shape it a certain way sometimes, letting the “a” drift away dreamily, indistinct.
Not quite ending so much as merging with my exhale in a diaphanous wisp that’s extinguished by my next breath or an errant breeze, of which there were few in the balmy air of the Athenian Agora.
He seemed to form more words, but I was already moving, and my “thank you” circumnavigated my body and was slung over my shoulder, tossed back in pseudo insouciance.
“Sure,” he said, a slight stammer to the “s” that made it issue a kind of shush noise before the word ended abruptly in a sharp “r”.
Whether he was sullen or bemused, I’ll never know, as I was already running down the trail at a brisk clip, my sandaled feet flicking over the dry earth and sun-sapped grass in a whir of sepia.
I had come from the altar of Aphrodite Urania, her coolness pervaded my demeanor, or maybe I’m just completely unused to speaking to attractive men.
So complete has my isolation been during the pandemic… even before it, if I’m honest with myself.
I’ve been in a sort of solipsistic self-containment for a while now, not seeking the company or even the attention of men.
His American voice startled me, rare, so soon after travel restrictions were lifted; British, German and French accents have dominated my sonic surrounds mainly thus far.
I immediately wondered where he was from, even as he asked me the same.
I felt a flutter, a rush, a thrill of anxiety or excitement, I’m not sure which of those sensory cousins it was that provoked me to flee, whipped into flight along the dusty trail.
Even on this trip through Greece, I’ve been alone.
Moving through the city of Athens, seeing sights or running through the nearly oppressive heat.
In the cool, sun-dappled chamber of my hotel room, recuperating from my runs with slow, restorative movement and chilled water from massive bottles. Wandering ruins and museums lost in my own world where the ancient past coalesces with the balmy present.
Through it all I’ve had solitude and contentment.
Aphrodite is a goddess of allure and attraction, but the facet of her energy that dominated my mind that day was her remote, crystalline distance, not the warm gleam of Aphrodite Pandemos, the charming, golden one, but Aphrodite Urania.
She is the etheric, celestial manifestation of the goddess. She is said to denote the realm of transcendent love and is considered distinct from both the realm of the material body and the Maternal Feminine.
I felt something close to fright by the idea of closeness, a kind of intensification of the dry heat around me seemed to strip me of my aura, my self-contained sphere of safety.
He wore mirrored glasses (which I dislike on men), the curving shields reflecting my own face, warped and thrown back at me so I couldn’t see his eyes. Only my own ruddy, damp visage; full rosy lips, childishly plump and awkward-looking in those merciless twin frames.
Funhouse mirrors bent to make the mouth protrude in absurd near-grotesquerie, overly plush, like ripe fruit left out in the burning Grecian sun.
As I ran ridiculously down the path, I wondered if he was looking at me, a funny, skittish creature with coltish movements, flickering down the dusty trail towards the trees near the temple of Hephaestus.
I knew where I was, incidentally, I asked him for directions in a nervous gesture as I noticed him watching me as as he approached; a linear, square jaw, twin inscrutable silver mirrors for eyes, a muscular body in a black shirt straining at the chest.
All impressive, unknowable convexity from his lenses to his muscles bulging monumentally in the heat of the mid-afternoon.
As I raced towards the temple on the hill, I laughed — a throaty, hoarse cackle of a noise, catching a glimpse of my sandaled feet lashing the trail.
So close to the altar of Aphrodite Urania, a goddess cleansed of her Eastern sensuality by the Greek patriarchal lens. A viewpoint so afraid of her full energy; anathema to the Greek world dominated by logic and lines and the Western eye.
I suppose that’s what he represented to me, now that I think of it: the oppressive power to view and name, to place, and thereby control.
The virility of his form enticed me even as I fled from his all-seeing eyes, silver pools of restricting reflection.
What was I in that gaze? Sensual and attractive? Aloof and unattainable? A neurotic, fellow tourist with anxious movements and a slick, sweaty face?
I’ll never know, and I wonder if my energy will remain bifurcated this way in Greece for the rest of my journey.
I wonder if I’ll be cool and alone, or so overwhelmed by sensuality and its heat and moisture that it will overpower me and invoke flight.
As divided as an Eastern goddess split into unintegrated parts by the Western Male eye.
Maren Zweifler enjoys teaching Yoga with a focus on free movement and intrinsic shapes, emphasizing spinal fluidity and innate, primal posture. Deeply inspired by movement systems that embrace nature like Sridaiva and Continuum Movement. He completed a 500-hour certification in SF and has taught both there and in Austin where he honed his skills teaching private classes tailored to the individual needs of his clients. He created a wellness/yoga program at a non-profit. These experiences allowed him to explore both the unique individuation of the physical experience in one-on-one sessions, and the commonalities of the human form that can be witnessed in large groups. You could connect with Maren on Instagram.