Friday, March 11, 2011

and spring

It's finally beginning to feel like Spring here, and the stringy, brown-skinned nine-year-old in me who spent summers swathed in the humidity of the south, heat indexes rising well over 110 degrees says: oh no. I think not. To say that forty nine degrees feels warm, to say that's enough to open the window a few inches and delight in air on your skin that plays with it, that does not wage war against it--what I mean is that it goes against everything I ever learned in the humid sub-tropic. When it finally drops below fifty, maybe sometime in early December, it means winter--what we call winter--has arrived.

And yet, today I did not wear four layers. I wore one underneath my jacket, and no gloves, no hat. As I walked behind my bloc the streets were mostly empty. The snow has all melted and I unwound my scarf from around my neck--and the cool air was delightful on my bare neck.

Tomorrow I will spend the afternoon outside in it playing volleyball with students. I spent the last thirty minutes looking for something I wrote a year or so ago that the mild air has had me thinking about, something about what a morning in this country might feel like. I didn't find it, but I did find this:

It was beautiful today. And my head's in a hundred other places. My heart's here and it's elsewhere too and I want to reach my hand across lines and oceans and borders and--

The T in me says, silly, look what a perfect clear day will do to you. It wants me to be reasonable, to be rational, but I find myself sitting here thinking of so many things, wanting to write sentences that don't end with words that liken stretched-out, flung-out sky to reaching, filled to bursting. I want to use words like expanse, cusp. The very cusp.

I think about how much a day like today will do to me. It was cool, but warm when the sun was on your skin, no humidity. It reminded me of Guatavita and the mountains in Romania. In fact, this morning I washed my hands with some scented soap, vanilla, and there was some lotion I used in Romania that smelled exactly like it. And I put on a pair of capri things I haven't worn since then and sitting there putting my shoes on, a couple of other things factored in, and I was right back. That soap has been doing that to me lately, bringing me back at unexpected moments. If it's not too strong a word, it's a little bit exhilarating. One minute you're walking to class and the next, all of a sudden you've got this feeling of familiarity--as sort of sensual deja-vu, I guess you could call it--and then a memory or two.

I think God must have known this when he made me--of course he did, so I suppose I'm saying how thankful I am that he did so this way. It's like someone leaving you a note, surprising you, something wonderful like that. God saying, remember this moment? And then I remember just how much he's blessed me, how much he loves me, where he's brought me from. That he has hope and a future for me. I'm in love with his creation, all twirly-spinny, nothing short of smitten. I feel silly. It was just so beautiful today.

It's late, but if I could be anywhere right now it'd be laying in the dunes down at the south end of Wrightsville, watching the sky through the long grass, forgetting about what's next or what six months ago was. Just cold sand, cold air, the swell and ebb of a whole ocean that only comes up so far.

But this is all new, this all beginnings and firsts. This time I do not find myself pulled places by similarities, pulled toward memories by some echo that bridges the gap. Rather, it is the differences, and even then they are mostly below the surface, waiting patiently to be processed. It's an unexpected change, this one: normally this constant processing spoils the coolness of a morning or the quiet of walking alone at night with too much introspection a la Surprised By Joy. And I'm thankful for the freedom in this.

At the same time, I'm recognizing that the busyness of a city like Bucuresti does not leave much space for the sort of solitude one finds at the south end of Wrightsville. I'm thinking I'll begin making regular trips to a park soon. In the meantime I am longing for a mountain to climb, for the sort of physical movement meets stretches of space for thoughts to run. To pray, especially. Nothing like going on the mountain to pray.

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