of evident invisibles
exquisite the hovering…
I tend to move quickly. I don’t mean that figuratively–everyone and their mamas know I be hanging on before I can let go–but honestly, in my day-to-day life, I go from place to place with the speed of a jackrabbit, mostly because my mother walks really, really fast and I spent all our grocery outings trying to keep up with her. I talk really fast, too, in such a way that leaves my brain in the dust. I feel quickly, my heart swallowing people and places and broken bits of nostalgia up before they know what has hit them (this is not quite as romantic or endearing as it may sound, let me promise you.) And I bang things around, in my speed to get places and say things and become emotionally attached to things. You may not think this true, if I’ve never banged you around, but it is. I have to take special care; I try my best to hold people and tacos and cats carefully, as not to dent or fracture or smudge them.
Paradoxically, though, I am fragile. I am soft, easily bruised. I get winded when I move too quickly, and I get the feeling I’ll never be in shape enough to keep up. And I have bits that notice the world, even as I’m breezing through, and so it is that I come to halt, panting, noticing. So I am caught so often, strung between telling my story and listening, between running to class and standing paralyzed by the beauty of something ordinary, between feeling so fiercely that my bones quiver and sleeping. (Sleeping is kind of my strong suit in general.) Perhaps this seems confessional to you (perhaps not if you’ve ever been banged around by me), but, you see, this is my place to run after I’ve noticed, or listened, or felt. This is where I file my remarkable things, because I do believe that they are suspended all around us, waiting to be to plucked and tucked in our pockets, moments to become ours and to mean something to us, if we let them. And I tell you so you reach out too, and take your own, and call your life beautiful, because if you want, you can see it that way. Everything I said before–the me-breaking-the-tacos part–is to let you know I don’t have a soapbox, only a longing for the joy and peace that I know is already mine. It’s only to say sometimes I have to run into a tree to look up and see it, and that what happens inside of me when the wind blows its leaves is extraordinary.
The past couple of weeks have been long but not tedious, because I’m entering into that period of time when everything is glossed over with “But it’s almost over.” Still, my here-to-thereness is in full swing nonetheless, so I am running, stopping, smelling the roses, running, whining, counting the clouds, reading, running, sleeping. Maybe you are too. Here are my standstill moments; may you find yours, too.
It’s a busy day at the office, so much so that my feet are sweating from all of the back-and-forth I was doing. I spend an hour lifting boxes of magazines up and down, causing wisps of hair to escape from my bobby pins and my fingers to turn red. I slide the pages into envelope after envelope, fasten the clasp, pull packing tape across the top, and drop it into a pile. Slide, fasten, stick, drop. Over and over and over. Perhaps I was a little lonesome, but only because mailing day is like watching your baby graduate kindergarten, and I was doing it alone. But then, in the middle of the process–slide, fasten, sti–a magazine fell off the table and open to the page of my story. There is my name, read most probably by my mother, but it marks the work that had kept me up at night, caused me to bite my nails to the quick, pushed me to eat 37 Hershey kisses too many. The page, there, just a page with a name; the name, there, belonging to me; the me, there in my office, but also 15 years old with a dream, and all the dreaming really looks like biting your fingernails to the quick and rewriting and picking another word and earning your name, in 12-point font, on a page, and no one told me that. But there, my name on the page, feeling better than I’d ever dreamt. I stop to touch it, to whisper to dreamers everywhere that dreaming is hard and that I’m dreaming still, let’s dream together, and then: slide, fasten, stick, drop.
I am sitting on the floor of my living room, 6:17 p.m. sunshine warming patches, a March evening wind teasing spring. My head is full to the brim with gotta-dos, but I’m just breathing, letting the quiet do a number on my head. I almost start to write, but I decide instead to Google (again) “jobs in publications” and so I scroll through the listings (again), my eyes looking for something that sounds like me, or could sound like me. I have no intention of applying yet, but I just want to see, to calm the anxious voices in my head. Before I know it, I’m writing a cover letter, putting a final bullet point on my resume, sending an email that ends with, “Thank you for your time and consideration.” I know my email lands among dozens of others, but this is the first time I’ve tried, the first time I’ve said, “Pick me, please.” It’s the first time I’ve really reached out past May to that future of mine and said, “Let’s do this.” The quiet stands still, noticing me not; the wind blows without knowing that I’ve just acknowledged June and July and the rest of my life with a smile. It settles on me first, but then it flits away, and I know the worry, the anxiety, isn’t coming back. So I make some toast.
I stop by her office to say hello, and she invites me to sit down, and like I’ve done so many times before, I pull a chair up and tell her about the bullet points of my life. She knows all the bold ones already, so we talk about how I sometimes feel caught between being a rational being and seeing life aesthetically; about how the sunshine fell on someone and it made me love him, maybe just for second, or maybe for the rest of my life; about how in the summers I nap in the Alabama sun and wake up with puddles of my sweat pooling around me, happy as a clam. “Some people think that’s weird,” I say, shrugging, and she smiles and says, “You are weird,” and I think about how this woman didn’t know me two years ago, but now she does. I think about she picked me to write for the thing she pours her heart into, and now she pours her heart into me, and I tell her she’s my friend, and despite how different we are, we are friends. I want to tell her I have very few friends whom I trust as wholeheartedly as I trust her, but instead we talk about something in the paper and then I leave.
On my way to my car, I think about how I’d like some tacos, but I come home and have a salad.