I slipped out in between rain showers last night to unearth Freedom from my car, where it had been sitting since my beach evacuation, and turned in early to catch up on it. it had been so long — nearly two weeks! — since I’d last picked it up that I had to re-read some pages, finding the groove I’d been in.
It came quickly. And so I read, the weight of the pages, the binding, tiring out my arms. (I may be too used to ebooks these days. I’ve lost my reading muscles.)
Anyway, a few pages in I was reabsorbed, and after some time had passed I looked up at a sudden noise and was surprised to find I was at home instead of on the Pearl Street beach. There was no sun — just my ceiling light. A trickle of sand rained down on my stomach, nearly landing on my bed, but it wasn’t the same, of course. It couldn’t be.
I spent some time in Sri Lanka one January, rebuilding houses washed away by the 2004 tsunami. Back then I wrote this about it on 100words.com:
Underneath a waning moon we sat on the ledge of the bar, silent. There is too much to think about tonight, this last night here. The fact that we are all here together; that this trip has changed us all; that we will never be as close as we are right now. So instead of thinking, I am watching: the look of triumph in Czech Peter’s eyes. The smirk on Buraq’s mouth. The thatched roofs and surfboards lining this bar, reminding me of LBI. I am taking it all in one last time, because I will never be here again.
I just remember sitting there, carving out the moment, knowing it would never be able to be recreated. And I suppose that’s what everything is, most of the time: a moving memory. Things change so quickly that we can never relive the best times; they’re never quite the same, despite identical staging and direction. The planets just never realign. Freedom is just not the same in my apartment as it was on the beach.
Sometimes I coast alongside work and life for weeks at a time, and then suddenly stop and gasp for air, for time to process. It can take minutes or hours for me to realize what’s happened, where I’ve been, what it means. Even when it’s mundane. It all just has to find its way into my bones. It has to become part of my story.
I did that last night, listening to the alternating silence and showers, like footfalls on the roof. And I’m doing it now, and this is my way of thanking you all for letting me.