I’m sitting in my car drenched from head to rainboot covered toe, listening to the steady drip-drip-drip of drops. I’m not 100% sure where I am, only that it’s beautiful and new-to-me. My fingers feel like I’ve been digging around in an ice chest for an hour trying to find the last damn beer. After rummaging through my car for something to write with, I was left with two choices: mascara or a very dull pencil. I went with pencil and now my hands hurt from pressing down so hard … from forcing it to put these thoughts down.
I woke up feeling inexplicably off. Not super unusual, but still. Luckily Facebook was quick to remind me, by way of an old photo, why the air around me felt so thick.
365 days/1 year/a lifetime ago – my world stopped and started.
I knew, even before looking at the date, that it was the last before picture I’d taken. In it, a smiling four year old headed to school on a Monday morning. An hour later, and no doubt still smiling, he was completely oblivious to how much life had just changed in the amount of time it takes to watch two Thomas the Trains. (Good change, but change nonetheless.)
But, as I sat on my back porch and stared off into space, I knew.
And I felt nothing.
Don’t get me wrong, I was used to feeling nothing – I’d felt it for years – but this was a different, much emptier, kind of nothing. My entire body buzzed with numbness. It fought back at my forced and failed attempt to feel anything, because how the hell could I feel absolutely nothing about something so big?
I didn’t squeeze out one single tear that morning. Eventually, I stopped trying and headed over to my daily coffee/writing spot. Business as usual.
_ _ _
Since that day, I’ve cried enough tears to single-handedly remedy California’s drought and then some. Today alone, I probably cried a good day’s rain.
I hate putting such importance on a simple date, but this one feels warranted because so much has changed. I feel lighter in some places yet heavier in others. I feel nostalgic but not sad. I feel. And that’s not something I did much of for years.
When I realized the day’s significance I was close to talking about it, but stopped after realizing I wasn’t ready to share it with anyone. In fact, up until now I’d only told one person. All I did want was to run away and take pictures but, my camera having died a very dramatic and unfortunate death yesterday, I was shit out of luck. I administered CPR on it for hours last night to no avail. So, declaring it dead, I poured one out and ordered another one.
Of course, being the stubborn little shit I am, I tried again this morning and by God if it wasn’t a miracle. Just like that, it had risen.
I grabbed a backup battery, pop-tart, and red bull, and quickly hurried out the door to squeeze in some shots before the rain. I was en route to see my owl when somewhere along the way I detoured to search for a mystery pond I knew very little about. But apparently my gut sure did, because I got there like I’d driven that route a million times before. Turning in, I saw two lakes and thousands of birds, some of which I’ve never seen. I let out a gasp, then set out to explore.
At 3 pm, over a mile away from my car, the ice cold rain came pouring down. I tucked my camera under my hoodie and started back. What came next I can only describe as some kind of spiritual experience. Under a pastel painted pouring sky, thousands of birds flew over and around me – more than I’ve ever seen together in one place. I was soaking wet, freezing, and not the least bothered by either. Strolling along as if there weren’t a cloud in the sky or care in the world, I felt such a strong and overwhelming sense of peace – one that’s really difficult to explain. Oddly enough, over the last few months, I’ve experienced quite a few of these moments. I tried explaining them to a friend once or twice, but couldn’t find the words, so I stopped looking for them.
For the first time in a long time, I don’t feel the overwhelming need for logic to explain away these things and moments I don’t quite understand. Instead I’m learning to smile and just say thank you.