Thursday, January 17, 2013


Seventy-eight degrees today, warm and bright enough that at four in the afternoon you feel like it should be seven thirty or eight at night, that it should be early May, tilting back toward long days, shadows that stretch across fields and into woods. I can feel the distance of an ocean, the span of another continent. But it is good to be here, so many reasons it's worked out so well to postpone the trip back (which I will write about as soon as I'm allowed!). So no complaints, none of the tendency of my eyes and heart to trail toward the far-off. I might finally be learning to be where I'm at. So there's that.

And there's this weather. There are few things that so overwhelmingly feel familiar and good than walking outside barefoot in short sleeves. The other night, mid-January, I walked down the driveway to take out the trash, mild air, a city on the coast and decided right there to drive the seven minutes it takes to get to the ocean.

The sand was cold (a reminder: we are bookended by December and February) and it was darker than I remember it ever being. Lots of stars, but not enough of them or of clouds to light anything except the breakers. And let me tell you, they sounded so much closer than 100 meters away. So much bigger. I'd been afraid to go out to the water by myself because I could barely make out a trash can twenty feet away, so I sat on a bench and watched the sky, listened, and there it was, what I felt standing next to the Bay of Vlore one night in March, except multiplied by ten. Afraid of the bigness of something I couldn't see, afraid of something I've thrown myself in constantly since I was two or three, that I've swum in on better-lit nights.

I would have laid out there all night listening to it if I hadn't been alone. Eventually I walked out nearly to the water and realized, I'm not afraid. But I am exposed, I am the highest point for hundreds of feet, and in Romania everywhere I go there are buildings reaching up beside me, mountains growing upward. There's little conclusion here. I watched the sky a while longer, reorienting to being at a different point under it, thinking about how it had looked in Colombia, a warm, breezy night.

There's a newness to the Atlantic, or maybe a newness in me--I think of reading Into Thin Air, how the writer had to become reacquainted to his wife after two months and everything that happened on Everest. That hesitance and uncertainty in the newly changed. And I'm seeing it in other ways, seven weeks in: being unused to American twenty-something male-female dynamics. Feeling like I've got to make my sentences more polite when I speak to strangers, the you so direct. The music wherever you go--stores, in people's houses--way too loud. Maybe I'm just getting old.

But it's beautiful here and I'm grateful for it, for the ocean and walking outside barefoot, a feeling of freedom coming from, what? Knowing a place, its culture? It hasn't really changed, even if I have, and stepping back into things that have been true my whole life of this specific place, that comes easy. Ce ma bucur de asta, in the sense of being glad in, of rejoicing.

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