Sunday, August 11, 2013

Birthday Thoughts

If your life is one that seldom takes you off the beaten path, you're not likely to see a covered bridge.  For those that take the slow path, the closer look, that notice unseen poetry in a drop of melting snow, the land and soul that thirst, you may see one.  You'll be  on a small, narrow road when it appears suddenly, like an apparition.  You have almost no choice but to stop, to stare, to hold that moment in time.  You do not see the age of the bridge, or its scars, simply the structure that covers and protects it, that has stood for years with that serene and heavenly radiance that are angels in church windows.

To someone else they'd simply appear archaic, a relic from generations past that doesn't fit into our electronic age.  The enclosure was not to make it postcard perfect but to fulfill an inherent need to protect the inner workings of the bridge from nature's elements, from time and rain and wind.  A bridge built completely of wood without the protective coatings we have today, would last one or two decades.  Protecting the underpinnings of the bridge from the elements could add 50 or 60 years to the life of the bridge.

There is one out West where I came of age.
It always takes me a full day to orientate myself after going out West after a couple of flights and a long car drive. That's not unusual. It takes most people a few days to get on schedule after crossing numerous time zones. I've tried staying on the same time zone that I live at home, sleeping on the plane and cloaking my windows with blankets and ear plugs worthy of a Nascar pit crew in my ear, as I try and get some sleep. Sometimes it works.

But sometimes one just can't get to sleep, thoughts tingling like a phantom limb. If that is the case you would be better served with simply opening the drapes and sitting to watch the city awake. So many cities. So many thoughts. What would become of us if anyone could guess our most secret anticipations, those fragments of want and need that form at 34,000 feet, shuttered into a nervous aluminum tube of energy, a long flight into a strange city. Thoughts that trail behind you, contrailing wisps of need that follow you back to your room.

We all have thoughts we wear like clothing, dressing ourselves in bright and flowing scraps of dreams.  Such thoughts are our release and they are our armor, as we hope the strength that flows within  them will seep out onto the surface, a sheen to reflect the daggers of the world.

But what about those inner thoughts, those you don't tell anyone? Think to someone you once loved, or perhaps do now. If you had known then, what you know now, about your desire and theirs, would you have run away from the intensity of their gaze, those eyes possessing a wisdom all their own. Or would you, knowing what you know now, run to them with an ease and a comfort that no random coming together of two people could ever have produced.

Or would you have simply run away?

You will think of many things, there in those hours that sleep doesn't come. Of the sip of warm coffee, a plate of bread and fruit, succulent nourishment there in the early morning hours. And you may dream of another form, far away, the body curled into itself while the cool blue fingers of chill air rising off a cold lake, tracing over eyelids closed to the world.
Innermost dreams. Some call it the "bucket list", things they wish to do before they die. I think of it not as a bucket, but as a body of water, my toes laid bare and flat upon the endless shore, waiting to dive in, the anticipation of something in the air long before I took the first leap.

We hear the words of the preacher telling us of how we should look to glory with no regret but only joy. But we are not ready to quit this earth, still believing that what is within the scope of our passionate want is within the scope of our passionate hope. For there are things you know you have to do, things you have to say, for that future to be opened to you.

The covered bridge had not changed, looking much the day you first saw it as a child, dipping your toes into the frigid water underneath. Not any different than that day so very long ago, when childhood had only recently been discarded and you were driving across it with that first love of reckless youth. Even if you can't remember their voice, you remember their words. They said all the right words, made all the right moves, but love to them was simply matter of fact, like talking about finding the equal distance between two separate points, about the body's scientific response to a natural need, not the souls' response to the need to live.
The car entered the bridge, the click of the tires on the ancient wood muffled, passing beyond the realm of hearing into that sense that is only mute vibration.  Your bare toes curled on the floor boards, staring straight ahead as you talked, perched on the edge of a cliff of a car seat listening to the words that are only escape.

As you leave the bridge,the lines of the road play out like Morse code, quickly tapping out the miles to the end.  The skeleton forms of trees flow past, making the words that came from him, rising and falling without emotion or passion, seem like hollow lectures to empty halls. You could barely speak, not that it mattered, for, like duty and honor, this could only end one way.

Up ahead, under one of many trees is a bench of stone. What kind of stone is it? You open your mouth to ask, but you don't, for he will have a matter of fact answer to that, as he has an answer for everything that should carry emotion but never will, the words a strange counterfeit that makes no mark upon you. Rock hard, the decision to be made, constructed by some force of will, of unquestionable knowing of what you both want and what you won't settle for.
You can only sit there, with a deer in the crosshairs look, caught in that moment of life and motion, where if you do not do something, you will cease to live in that very moment between splendor and speed and the piercing of a heart. "We can still be friends" you think and you know that's a lie that slams shut like the door, the sound muted somehow, the small top of a flip top bottle closing, keeping air out without disturbing what is left inside.

Home, to thoughts of what you both could have chosen, and did not. Thoughts to pack in your suitcase as you leave for another trip that seems to last for years. 

The passage of time. Days become weeks, becoming months and years. Around that covered bridge, trees remain, that live and bear leaves, while others vanish, burned for warmth and need. But you don't go back there.  It is just a sign along the highway that exists only in the corner of your eye, as you try not and look.  Towards.  Always.
More years pass. It's another night in  hotel in a strange city, the window open, your thoughts and body in a button down shirt and panties, neck exposed, head arched back as if for a first kiss, the body's tendons giving away desire without outward thought. But the room is empty, the suitcase on the floor, a cup of coffee cooling on the table, reports and papers on the desk, scattering with your innermost thoughts.

Thoughts. Not of the reports. Not of death and taxes and all that is inevitable.  But rather, thoughts of the places and things you wish to do before you yourself are darkness. Wind and cars that race along a road, your form molded to the seat as if made for it, a strong hand on a warm thigh, laughing. Late nights and deep stars, the blue form of a shirt on the floor in front of dying embers.

You sit and you watch, there so far away. Outside, a taxi comes to the front of the hotel, summoned by a man in a hat, his hand held high in the air, his wristwatch glinting as if it was on fire. You notice him, this dashing man in a tailored suit. You notice the not so young woman, gazing up at him with laughter, the dark, wet fire of her hair laying like an exclamation across her cheek, his hands wet with glistening drops as he helps her from the taxi and pulls her close to take her in to safety and discovery.
You notice things. You notice the way he looks at her, this woman who is no longer a girl, as if he measured everything in his sight by the response it drew from her twinkling eyes. He lights her cigarette, with a look and a touch, the flame burning brightly, a star in miniature, expiring into the darkness with the rush of its need. You smile as they rush on in, never seeing you, traceless in your quiet detachment, the flame now vanished towards the distant moon, stars so far out of reach.

You think of someone else, a voice that paused with emotion when you laid out your hurt and your fear, words that comfort and ears that listened. You wonder if given the choice if you would run away, or if you would stay, and the answer is already there, gathering around you with the wonder of a child.

You look out onto this city in which sleep is a stranger, smelling the curve of a body of water that's seen more than you will ever imagine, the opening light laying supine on the dark cobbled streets, trembling like a lovers first caress. The room is cold, and you wonder if you will ever sleep again as the clock counts those remaining days that hang in the air, like the laughter of innocence, evanescent and hopeful.
The room is as cold as the dark,  the a.c. humming like a hive of angry bees. You open up the window so the darkness can breathe, the room inhales warm air, blood surges, skin grows warmer, as if pressed by the weight of the night.

With the beat of the clock you say that name, breathing it in and out, the noise of a city's awaking, rising like steam, warming you. You say it once and forever so that it would be gone, though not forever, laid somewhere dark and safe where you know you can go, but are not sure you dare.

You picture yourself calling them on your return, ever so late, even though you know you will not. The sound of that voice a gift, waiting. Would you believe that you can delve deep into your innermost thoughts, to expose those rough wanting edges no one else may ever see, and you can do so with complete trust.
Come over. I've been waiting.

You would be as vulnerable as you will ever be as you take that step, as you let yourself be led into shelter, covered by that which shields those scars that fate marked on you, those lines etched by salty rain. The look on their face is your future, your gift, the wanting there, as they lay you back across a bed in the shadows where you finally sleep.

Home.

17 comments:

  1. Wow.

    So when are you going to put all of this beauty in a book which I can then keep nearby for inspiration as needed?

    Your writing speaks to the soul.

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  2. Wow...I wish I could write what I see in my mind's eye, like you can. This post hits on several different levels. I am glad you are willing to share your insight and vision of the world with us all.

    Vic303

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  3. Your words are as gentle as rain.

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  4. I think that this is your finest post ever.

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  5. Happy Birthday. Let me guess....21

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  6. thank you for not writing everything in lower case like e. e. cummings.
    that's infuriating!

    PS - great post

    gfa

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  7. This Old Okie sure enjoys your outlook on life, your writing is the best..

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  8. Wow, Miss B.
    You're dreaming out loud.
    Thank You
    Rich in NC

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  9. Belated Happy Birthday! Hope it was a wonderful day.

    I will second what OldAFSarge said. We need a book so we can carry your inspiring (and inspired) prose with us to re-read even when the power is out!

    Purple Magpie

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  10. I was lucky enough to find my home 35 years ago today. She's a beautiful home that travels down life's path with me. Never straying. Always sheltering. A warm lap for my head and a gentle caress when life's choices were nearly impossible. Such a home a man can wish for only once. Did I say luck? Blessing is the better word. Fabulous post Brigid.

    And a Happy belated birthday from all of us.

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  11. I came back to this post, because I linked to it from one of mine that was in my "best posts" category.

    I agree with my younger self - this may be your finest post ever. Yours is quite a gift.

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I started this blog so the child I gave up for adoption could get to know me, and in turn, her children, as well as share stories for a family that lives too far away. So please keep it friendly and kid safe. Posts that are only a link or include an ad for an unknown business automatically to to SPAM..