Sunday, July 16, 2017

Island Scenes, Mountain Retreats

There are things that keep me awake. I can't keep having the same dreams. Too much passes for reality when my eyes are closed. Faces, ghosts, memories... my restless mind combines so much, and I find more solace in the dark of night than I do in my sleep. JK Rowling had plenty of inspiration for the Mirror of Erised in dreams. 

It's late, again. Thoughts wind back to the conversation earlier in the day - the dichotomy that provides me comfort, the yearning of my heart to split my life between cold snowy mountains and a quiet, desolate beach. My daydreaming (night dreaming?) keeps creating scenes, moments that I could dwell in forever. But, as cautioned, it would not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.


For a moment, though I don't know how long it lasts, I'm walking on the beach. It's late - the bars and clubs are expelling their caches of the drunk and lusty. For a span, I am swallowed in the humanity as pairs and singles as they wash the soundscape in intermittent beats and the murmur of determination. I meet no eyes, I find no conversation pulling me. I am a ghost amongst crashing waves and chilling breezes, unbidden and unwelcome in my otherness. My skirt is long and skims the tops of my feet, my hair blown and battered by the fingers of my companion the wind; even the most amorous of couples are bypassing the dunes and hiding places for some other den of lust tonight. My lips curl in recognition, a smile for remembered beats and rhythms when I danced myself to pleasant oblivion years ago. 

I give privacy to the retreating humanity; they are on a journey different from the trail I walk tonight. I am in search of something they would not value, even if they found; the same could be said if my feet found me walking anyone else's road. I taste the salt on my lips from the ocean spray, and watch the changing colors of surf as it sighs itself in and out. The sand is still warm under my feet from the day's sun. The women who went into the clubs without jacket or sleeves are surprised by the cool night's breath. I chuckle at the sounds, words shapeless as they reach my ears, expressing surprise. They cannot see what I do; I leave them to their own devices as I am left to my own. 

As the sounds ebb, the tides stubbornly come in. My path veers further inland, avoiding the tips of the surf's fingers as they reclaim bits of the beach. I shrug my shoulders, wrapping my hands in the cuffs of the shirt extending to my thumb. There's a storm offshore. That explains the edge to the breeze, the way it shifts the trees and tousles my hair carelessly. I needn't strain my eyes to find safe passage in the night. I can see forever in the moments lightning touches salt water. Even if the shower reaches my deserted haven, it might wash away any tears that fall and such friendship should not be turned away. I will cry myself comforted in the falling salt water as its ultimate destination stands judgeless and vast. I will find peace between the rain and waves.


Deep breaths carry evergreen and cold to my nose. I find myself wrapped in the silence of the world as it gathers itself before a storm. My boots crunch the crisp, established snow. I think another blanket will fall soon. I listen to the few leaves determined to hang on hibernating limbs, protesting another bout of rough treatment I would not spare them. There's a name for the silence that comes with a snowstorm - it escapes me as I smile into the dove grey underbelly of the threatening clouds. The path remains in my mind as I see the first large clumps of crystalline ice tumble onto my trail. I know the way without thought, without directions. That does not stop my breath from catching. Somehow I am home again, known even in my solitude by the wind and weather. Unyielding ground beneath the snow strains to touch my shoes, to reassure me that grass and tree wait to rise when the time permits. This is my reset, my chance to let loose my hidden breath. I can find my pace, hidden among the evergreens. The heavy sweater under my parka, the boots, even the hat I wear are no barrier. 

I don't spin. There are catches of a song on my mind, calling from the depths a ship and its captain as winter waves beckon. No snow angels, somehow an affront to the temple in which I wander. My reverence tells me that full-throated song is disrespectful in this space. I learn my own stillness in this cathedral of whipping cold and spiraling fractals. There is a place for the geometric precision of each array of angles, the alignment of water and imperfections tumbling to me from heights I do not imagine as I watch them gather on my eyelashes. Melting into my ungloved fingers, the touch of delicate chill followed instantly by pooling water calls to me. It sings of the stillness I may borrow but do not own, the pristine beauty this place holds without any of the scars, the damage of learning and living. As the dripping former snowflakes invade the warmth of my sleeve, I recall the trek back to hearth and home. My journey will have been better for these steps caught in the storm, instantly obliterated by the falling fluff. I will curl into an oversized chair next to the fireplace, a book awaiting my attentions as tea steams in my cup. I'll listen well to the rare thunder that accompanies some snowstorms. I'll smile as its deadened rumble recalls the rain it had been at lower elevations, warmer temperatures, and I welcome its changed touch on my lips, my eyes, my mind. 


I can't explain why both ideas swim with meaning and value in my mind. There's so much about each that is inexplicably real to me. Part of it is my own memories of less idealized moments. Some of my life is wrapped in holding such moments, finding instruction and comfort in the vividness of such moments. It is remarkable the lengths to which the mind seeks comfort, refuge, peace. There are such different tactile experiences in each, their differences of primary importance to me. 

So I'm caught somewhere between jagged mountainscapes and shifting sandy seascapes. Needing both, missing both. 

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