in between

This time each year I like to reflect on the highs and lessons learned, this is the year the planets nearly touched. 

This was the year Jupiter and Saturn crossed paths after 800 years apart. They looked like two minuscule dots in the sky. Isn't it striking how we are tinier than grains of sand, yet from our insect perspective, see the planets equally as small? Nearly untraceable in the blur of street lamps and fluorescent store fronts flickering out like dying candles. 

While slicing zucchini to fry them with mushrooms, the smell of the freshly washed white mushrooms reminded me of a childhood memory. The smell of earth and soil, smelled just like the mushrooms I washed and patted with a paper towel for lunch.

There was a building on the side of a road where my mom took me along for a ride to grow mushrooms. That side of the road had a giant truck tire, like a mail post, marking the spot. The building was long and narrow, no windows or light, with rows of shelves going up and up further than I could see. On each shelf there were little white mushrooms peeking out from the black soil. My mom attended to each one with tenderness and care, and I watched and sank my fingers in the moist edges of the shelves as I trailed behind her. It was very warm inside the darkness and while I remember feeling like I was holding my breath, it also felt like we were alone together in space. Seeing the line of light as she opened the door and called for me to leave was a pang in my heart. 

Looking back, I remember all our walks around the pond and weekend bike trips to the beach. Those moments under the shade of our favorite tree by the harbor, listening to the waves crashing with the rocks below, the summer wind tangling my hair and curling the pages of my book. Sharing a serving of fries and a cold coffee. Those were the early days of sticky pages, summer sunsets, hard laughter and watery eyes. The end of fall and coming of winter did something to me, made it harder to get out of bed. No matter how much I sleep, I am still always tired and my eyes are swollen. If it were up to me, I'd do it all over again. Stop chasing time. I'd like to be lying on my beach towel at the park, listening to the wind and watching the trembling leaves and clouds move along like a speeding train while I remain perfectly still. 

As I write this, I hear my family chatting about this or that. The lights on the holiday tree reflect in a decorative mirror on the desk, and when the voices quiet I hear the highway and the thunder of fireworks rumbling somewhere far away but close. I know I have to go and share a celebratory toast. My body feels heavy and warm, full of hearty meals and several cups of tea. I feel a thudding in my chest and observe the blue and green lights in the mirror, remembering and not quite ready to move.

Magic falling backwards

November is the darkness catching up with the day too soon. The pitch black outside a window. It is the shock of the sudden brightness when someone walks across the parking lot and activates the motion sensor light. The same electric shock runs through my body when an object thuds on the ceiling in the apartment above. It's the flight response when a train screeches on the tracks, the rushing of heat and jolting pulse in my throat. The same flashing panic when I see 00 00 on the digital clock and for a moment think the time has run out. November is a peculiar dream of standing outside a noisy, crowded room, looking towards the light, and a voice warning me there are demons inside. The fear latches onto me and I close my eyes as I enter, seeing with my hands, bumping and brushing past warm bodies in motion, never opening my eyes.

November is an almost unbearable quiet. Spending so much time at home, I have become more acquainted with its language and any break in pattern is unsettling. Everything runs on schedule. The clicking and clanking of the heat running through the pipes, the hum behind a wall, the rumbling fridge starting up like an old man clearing his throat, the cracking when the building takes a deep breath when it gets cold or raining, water dribbling, a radio turning on, the thump of the same shoe falling off the shoe rack in the hallway. The introduction of a new sound, the drip drip, interrupts the hiss, sends chills down my spine. The incessant tap  tap  tap, like a shaky leg under a table, is as loud and as infuriating as a jackhammer.

November is watching the leaves swirling outside in a storm. It is the walk after sunset, on the lookout for rabbits, who have come to represent little signs of hope. They sit very still, alone, on a lawn, pretending to be statues to elude predators. November is a promise of a letter when I see the pulsing white light from underneath my phone, resting upside down on the nightstand, like a searchlight out at sea. I am easily stirred. Reading a message from a friend, or listening to a voicemail, eases the aching to connect. November is standing by the window in the morning light and watching the last leaves fall. It's calling out to ask him to come look, look how they fall in slow motion like torn pieces of paper, and then calling out again to look how the wind rises them up again like magic falling backwards.

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