It may be a widely known fact, but I met my husband, the Maharishi in college. We were young and fragrant and we picked mushrooms together, drank tea, listened to David Byrne and Brian Eno. He took me to avant garde dance recitals and I took him home for Sunday lunch. He taught me about art; I taught him about country life. I made my own dresses from old linen sheets. He wore Brookes Brothers' pink button downs and too-short green trousers from Army Surplus and tweed coats from second hand shops and fresh white boxers from Neiman Marcus. He was the most fascinating man I'd met in my life. And to him, from Beverly Hills, CA, I'm sure I seemed like an exotic bird, albeit an exotic bird from the Chiltern Hills.
While riding our bikes at the beach with our friends from Delaware, who were staying for the weekend, we stopped at the Maharishi's father's house. He lives on the beach and he's not very well. He has cancer. Although, apart from the hair loss and the trouble he has moving about, you'd never know it. He is smiley and funny and alert. He has only ever been completely lovely to me and I adore him.
On the table in the dining room was a huge pile of old photos. Sandy had been sorting out her boxes and had found pictures from the M's childhood and from his father's childhood. There were pictures of John Sr with a huge beard, just like the Maharishi's, like something out of "Easy Rider" in a t-shirt and a pair of shorts, with his arms round my husband, who has straight blond hair, big green eyes, long brown limbs. They're both looking at the camera intently. In another John Sr. is sitting on the beach in his familiar short shorts, surrounded by leggy blondes in tiny bikinis. He's smiling. Then there's one of him as a little boy with his father, whom he lost when he was 18. And one with his mother, Virginia, whom he lost when he was 6.
I look over towards where the others are sitting, by the big window onto the beach. It's blue and white and sunny outside. John Sr is in his usual chair, smiling, surrounded by Sandy, his beautiful wife (like a little bird, she flits about taking care of him, telling him she loves him every few minutes, delivering plates of cold, cut fruit to the table, asking if everyone's okay), by his bearded son, by our friends. Alden was the Maharishi's roommate in college. He has know John for twenty five, nearly thirty years. They're all laughing at a joke. I didn't hear it. There is so much light in the room.
*Not to be confused with the world's best cream puff.