All the Years at Quarter Speed
It’s New Year’s Day and I am enjoying the rare experience of riding through the city in a car. From where we are stopped, I can see the Ben Franklin rising up against the backdrop of a slightly pink winter sky. Of course, it’s just in my head, but the city seems somehow fresh, like it’s morning all day. The sky blushes and the clouds separate, wispily, and it looks like the sun just rose even though it’s the middle of the afternoon. What I want is to sustain this feeling. The rush, the excitement, the expectation. Beginnings only happen once, and they’re gone before you can appreciate their sweetness (or maybe it’s the passage of time that makes them sweet at all?). It’s that: the first note of a song, page 1 of a new book, the traces of light that herald the day ahead. That’s the piece I want to be holding onto, always.
I’ve found that answers are almost always found in beginnings. When I read poetry and essays I don’t understand, I find the connecting piece when I go back and reread the start. Something in the opening always foretells the end, always reveals something that became easy to forget as things get more complicated. And that’s the magic of it, I suppose. Beginnings are, by nature, simple. The plot hasn’t twisted, the bass notes haven’t come in yet. Nothing has happened. And yet, everything has happened. The start of something new is such a momentous thing, in itself, and that’s as easy to take for granted when it’s happening, as it is to miss, wholeheartedly, later on.
When the light changes and the car moves again and we are driving again at a steady pace, bobbing along the road, with the river and the city a panorama in the window, I can’t help but think about the first time I appreciated looking out over the buildings. For the first time in months, I’m happy to be here.