I reach out to him but he says no, don’t touch me. I think to myself, we don’t have to spend too much time apart. I think to myself, we shouldn’t have. I’m covered in symbols, head to toe, I’m covered in symbols. Sometimes it’s a Celtic knot, sometimes it’s a forsaken stone. I say to myself, this is who I am, I say to myself, this is who we are. Surrounded by words and letters, clouds and dreams, hazy- it gets so hazy. We walk around town, we look at things, we feel together but we’re separated. I think to myself, how lost do you feel when you sleep at night? I think to myself, I’d stay there, I’d not let go. These past nights, I had all these dreams that told me strange things, and I searched for myself and I saw him. Hold my hand, baby, hold my hand, said I, in my dream. I’m asleep when I’m awake and awake when I’m sleeping, life gets pretty confusing and here I have a pair of wings, and I set off, high. I still see him but he’s a little far now. The shadows ain’t so scary baby, I say to him, the dark is pretty, I try to tell him but I fly so high. Lights glimmer out here baby, I miss you. Wish I’d told him a secret before I flew, wish I’d told him more. Then, think no more, right into the sky I fly. Soon, we’d both forget, I know.
The morning light falls on my face, beams breaking their way through thin bamboo sticks. The air is heavy with the scent of a chill. Winter creeps through the daylight, winter keeps the sun hostage but today, today it comes out full even if its warmth has waned. Waking up with this realization, I know the season’s changed yet again. There’s beauty in these cold mornings, pleasure, and in this moment, there’s peace. Everything is trivial except now, the past and the future, nothing but the imagination. In this moment, I’m happy. I’m a woman in love.
I walk down the steps and I’m outside. I’m in love with the morning, and I’m in love with the Alstadt. The way the stone crumbles under my feet as I walk, the way the birds fly in a loop above my head, the way the wind whispers to me and the faded sun beckons its hello. I’m in love with the early days of winter, and I love the way the old buildings stand around me, pointing to the sky. Their windows are old and shuttered, their facade a testimony of beauty and old age. I’m in love with the old city and I’m in love with the seasons, I’m in love with the smell of fresh, warm coffee and the way it dances in the air as it tempts and it calls. I’m in love with the dance of the swans in the nearest lake, the ripple of the water and the feeling of fresh dew on my fingertips.
I walk along the winding streets, the little shops and their displays outside, the bearded and sometimes fat men who sit on a chair all day long. In our glances there’s recognition, I see them everyday and they me. Along a winding street lined with cherry blossoms now waiting patiently for next spring, there are cafes with benches sprawled side by side. A couple or two, you see there, lost in conversation, soaking the last rays of the sun because this sunlight won’t last for long. The sound of my boots echoes in the morning silence, the peace when everyone has left for work and there are just us, the ones who’ve stayed behind. It’s a beautiful day and there’s hope in everything. There’s love all around me and I’m one with it, the beauty of it is precise and simple and it brings a smile to my face. The coffee is delicious.
Little things… These are the little things, and this is my love affair, with everyday. On my walk, I remember you. The lost moments and the dreams, waking up in the morning and brewing the first pot of coffee, sprinkling it with chocolate and making those pancakes. On my walk, I remember the moments of the lost embrace, a lost touch, a love felt and a love lost. And a realization awakens, that it’s okay. For what will be dreams if they all come true and what will be love if it isn’t left unfulfilled. Little things, these are the little things and I remember, I will always remember. But this is my moment and I will shelter no pain, no. I will love the morning, and the dying sun, sit in the waves of the wind, and hear the last leaves fall. And I will wait, patiently, I will always wait for you.
In chaos, I find salvation. Amidst the storm of this living, each day, with the rising; each day, the breaking of the new wonder. I saw a glimpse of the sun in the water; sat by the water and saw it glide and move; a steady rhythm. In his presence, I felt calm. In his presence, the earth wasn’t restless. Today, and only today, I whispered, I flew. In his presence, the world was all right. This side of the bridge, this side of the oneness, this side of the doubts and fears, the crumbling begins, the outer pieces falling.
In his presence, the world was all right. In his presence, the moon sunk low. In his presence, the night song grew and grew, into a harmony, an ecstasy; into the flow, the music, the words bringing together the worlds.
I wish not to wake up, standing outside, looking in; I wish it wouldn’t end; I wish I wouldn’t start the long walk alone; I wish it would last; a grip, the desire, a grim hope. And yet, in his presence, the world was all right; just for a moment, no tempests, no wildness untamed.
Just in this moment, the world was all right.
It was a fight to the end. I stood in a timeless place; a motionless place. Around me, all stilled; the air, time and space. In my heart, there was a darkness, which slowly crept and moved, stealthily, gaining with every breath. What would be, what could not be? I lost this fight, I lost it. The swings went back and forth, pushed by the wind, the noise started, getting louder, that persistent climb into consciousness I tried so hard to deny. It wasn’t reasonable to suppose this time the steps would reach the same conclusion. It wasn’t reasonable to put myself in someone else’s hand. It wasn’t reasonable to depend, to repent, to scream out loud, to make this noise. It wasn’t reasonable to have those dreams. Surrounded by the crowds, drowning in the sounds of the carnival; laughter, the smell of fresh popcorn; the clink of glasses coming together; the rising swell of music as I leave, leave it all behind. Leaving the garishness, the bright lights, the mockery, the life I lived; leaving it all behind; every single step, every minute resolve, strengthening; there is not a shadow of a doubt in my heart. There is not a suspicion or a dark cloud blighting my horizon. The way is clear, the path is drawn and behind me I’ve left shards, shards and blades and stones; each one has a face, each one has the face of my fears- all left behind, suspended, halted, contained. Notice my footsteps, notice my breath. Notice, my decision. Finally, I’m free.
Photo: Messe Freiburg, Germany
My feelings take me to the edge. The dark and stillness whispers, nothing is quiet, but always these talking voices. They go this way and that, twisting and turning, tumbling and weeping. How should I contain the way I feel? Because sometimes the soul is overwhelmed, filled to the brim, it aches, it throbs.
What actions make us human? What actions make us their dark replicas? How should we act? Is every moment etched in time like words soldered in iron or can it be erased? Is every moment like shifting sand? Sometimes I have trouble distinguishing, as if the memories have drowned in to the bottom of a vast ocean, but thrown up by a raging storm, catching the moonlight, and finding a way to enter my mind, rousing my emotions, almost as if the waves were playing…
What is there that scares me, hidden beneath the waves of the storm? What is there that makes me stop, and why can’t I face the smashing walls of an endless sea? It roars, surely it should give me power, surely it should make me rise out of the vast depths, rise into the sky, unafraid, facing my fears. Yet I am but the remains of a long forgotten boat. I feel that I have lost my fight, lost the will to fight the waves, the sea. I have the air of one who floats, just floats… And lets the water take myself, my rusted hinges, my lost oars- lets the water take it all away.
We think those lyrics are cheesy; dreams, love, lights flickering, a pulse beating fast. It’s exactly what it feels like. The words suddenly make sense, the voices inviting. Blood pounding in my ears, I’m waiting and I’m watchful- should it feel like I’m touching 18 once again? It’s a blast from the past; the hope, the awkward smiles, the silence stretching out but no one leaves.
For me, was it the smile that crinkled at the corners of his mouth? The shine that lit his eyes? Infatuation… It’s a strange thing. I liked his presence, his walk- leaning back into the breeze a little, almost flowing but solid, steady. It’s when the music swelled in my mind, I swear I could hear the chords slamming. It’s when the lights played out to a vibrato that shook the air, that almost shimmered. I would have walked straight into those arms, had to grasp myself awake, out of the pleasant daydream, out of the inevitable.
Maybe, just maybe, our paths will cross again.
Freedom is a strange thing. For the first time, I could walk on the streets, I could wear a skirt. I was free. I was free to feel, I was free to fall in love. Free, I could laugh, feel, I could drink in the rain and let my dress blow in the wind. But free doesn’t mean easy, free doesn’t mean there are no hard lessons, free doesn’t mean I can catch up to decades of progression in a blink. Everything is different but I belong; and everything is familiar where I won’t give in. Do I feel I’m too old for dresses? Could I sleep forever if I had the chance? Would I give up an awakening, a ray of hope? No, even if every day is dark and the sun never comes out, I won’t. There is something about life that keeps me here, something about chances, love, truth, that keeps me here. There’s something about emotion, hope and songs that keeps me here. Something inviting, a temptation, a taste, that keeps me here, that makes it hard to give up. To taste it again, to breathe it in, it keeps me alive, it keeps me sane. There are days I feel like I’m lost in a storm, days where I walk and endlessly walk. There are days it keeps on raining, keeps on falling, a constant tapping on the streets, on the window pane. For a moment, the sun comes out.
This is winter, this is life.