This Is The Time
This is the time of year when I start to miss California in the summer. I want to go back — maybe for a long while, but even just an hour would do. Things are slowing down, and I wouldn’t mind stopping time for an interlude. Palm trees and grass and miles of sunny skies are mesmerizing, a warm embrace in any circumstance. When seasons run together, there’s no need to acknowledge the passage of time. There’s comfort there, but something haunting and unspoken as well.
Those undulating Pacific waves are frighteningly consistent, but I would still choose them over pillows of frost each morning and teardrop icicles hanging over streets at night. Waters are haunting, or at least that’s what MacLean implied, and as I’m looking at the Delaware and losing myself in the endless ripples, I can’t help but agree. The movement of the water stirs something in me.
The skin on my hands is paler than it was this time last year. (Though still not pale by most standards, I suppose.) Maybe I should stop wearing white. Wind washes over me and I feel myself recoil unconsciously, skin trying to turn itself inside out. It’s a deceptively short distance across the river, and though I know better, it’s hard not to imagine swimming to the other side. Choppy waves break inconsistently against the river’s edge, and I want to touch them, feel the rough water against my skin. There’s this terrible weight to the waiting, counting down seconds and hours and days until the world freezes and becomes still. Heaviest of all is the silence and the stiffness (the chill, the stupor, the letting go); it’s difficult not to revel in the motion of the world on warmth. Like combing sand for seashells, I’m staring at an unyielding sky for a souvenir. Summer is a drug and autumn is the sweet haze of a slow recovery, and all I can recall is wading through fountains in Palo Alto in the heat and wanting to stay in the sun forever.
I’m thinking of Tolkien and Chopin and anyone else who’s ever tried to write about water as a murky space for both liberation and entrapment. Ambiguity settles on the river’s surface, and I look around and I am alone on the pier. Like a marching band, the wind roars against me, and I fight it going uphill, struggling to find a path through the onslaught of sound.