The closest I came to Sugar Mountain.
You know you've thought about it.
If he sweat on me I wouldn't wash myself for a month. This happened to a friend recently- who got tossed the ultimate talisman from the Guns N Roses stage- she caught Duff McKagan's sweaty ass wristband. She'd been holding her pee for about 7 hours, clinging to the front of the stage, literally bowing to the leaders of her old school, and she was bestowed. This is same same, but different.
There's a girl just down the aisle, Oh, to turn and see her smile. You can hear the words she wrote As you read the hidden note.
The ritual food offering. It is prepared, cooked, assembled, with love and devotion, mainly for a god or goddess in the Hindu tradition. Food is offered towards the deity during the ritual, and then shared between devotees, often parsed out by a guru, priest, or even yoga teacher- depending upon where you are receiving it.
The way I understand it, it is holy food. It’s intentionality defines it, and therefore its notion can be somewhat secularized into a practice of consumption that requires more attention and awareness of the processes of object, ingestion, and reception.
Living in San Francisco, I am literally in the food mecca. Chefs are around every corner- like actors in LA- professional, amateur, omnipresent. Their influence is profound, and food has become the epicenter of the city and even the region- I won’t leave Oakland out here, because gosh darn it, those who couldn’t afford to open restaurants in the city, are crushing it in the Town.
If that were a point of context, let’s move to the narrative. Last night I was working an evening hustle, one I am immensely grateful for, as a host and server and dishwasher for a private party at a gallery nonprofit space. On the docket was a birthday party for a young woman. 18 guests were expected.
As the guests started to file in, all were unpretentious and generally amicable. This was going to be a low brow crowd. Mellow, easy, formalities upheld in a generous space of friendliness. I can dig it. One guest in particular came. The patriarch, and legendary rocker XX.
I know XX lives in the bay- near Redwood City it is proclaimed, in the rolling hills near Santa Cruz. I’ve been near there visiting a dear friend at an artist residency program (to which I recently applied and am going to take XX’s presence as no small omen to the possibility of acceptance). So I have seen him from time to time at art fairs, as he is a well-known supporter.
After a moment of pure spiritual boon to be in his presence, and a couple private tears of sheer gratitude for the work he has shared with us/me over the years (the fan is always at the center of these relationships), I held myself together, and continued to serve Pellegrino lemon drinks in wine glasses. We served the meal, and stood by as the guests conversed on more interesting topics, and the the vibe was well mellow.
XX did not finish his plate of food. There was a small square of salmon left on the plate. As a maker of things, as one who ritualistically takes the departed object and converts it into something new, pushing along its own incarnations, helping the advance of the wheel, I wondered what to do with this plate. We couldn’t very well just dump it in the compost-
IT HAS THE GURU’S RASA (soul juice) ON IT.
I thought of all the times as an adolescent, that if I just had the chance to see Guns N Roses, to hug Slash, have him kiss my cheek- I would never wash it, or somehow transfer it onto a cloth, hold it for prosperity. Now, the reality of this potential, now as a 35 year old woman, with a 70 year old guru, presented itself. Far from adolescence. This shit is serious now. Before me laid the plate with fork and unconsumed food. The guru clearly in the other room, so no one could see what I’m about to do.
I invited the other two working ladies to join me, and I found myself offering a yoga teacher-like speech as we divied up the wild salmon, poached, into three pieces. We each fed the other a portion. I closed my eyes, and visualized mountains full of sugar, with a sea of broken arrows, set amidst a skyline with a perfectly setting sun. I had just ingested part of XX.
You always want to take a little bite from a plate that might have been passed on, a few nibbles taken out of it. There have been studies about knowingly sharing spit from ones we are attracted to, and appalled by the suggestion of any bodily fluid from someone we are not connected to. Actually, the digestive enzymes of the mouth contain so much longing and repulsion dependent upon the situation, it is very much a spectrum.
So, do I feel gross that I did it? Hardly. I recognize that might be an immediate response, but the truth is, if I see it as prasad, as an offering (one that I clearly took without permission, and for that, I apologize, but the conditions did not allow me to do so), it is so very different. I was able to taste the rasa of the guru through the act of sharing in his plate, in the food we offered him. Whoa.
Better than an autograph, I’ve got to say.
(above is the plate prior to ritual consumption)