The rusted grass on the side of the road looked familiar, as if it had scratched the backs of my legs in a dream years ago. And the brush I must have run through, red powdery flowers staining my fingers as I scraped past—but it was too real to have been a dream. I’d traveled this road before (the car crawling up the highway) and I used to imagine my hands trailing on the road as we blew past the rolling hills of rusted grass and red-stained brush. They’d blister, like the sun on the roof of our car.
It’s hard for me to imagine just how big the great state of California is and in comparison the smallness of my town, my house, my microscopic room… and I had to leave my little niche in the world, the place I’d carved out. And yet, I realize that my parents cut out a piece of the world and set me in, let me grow bigger, helped me make that space my own as I grew into myself. I know that I’ve outgrown that cave. My head scrapes the ceiling, my legs press against the hard rock.
I ran my hands over the painted walls of the house, felt the creaking hard wood that screamed to the world I was awake at midnight on those endless Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Goodbye. I caressed the ivory keys of my piano next and mourned the end of my physical ownership of it—it will always be my parent’s piano now, the piano of my childhood, the piano I play when I go home… but never mine. The piano of Liszt and Beethoven and Turina and Debussy and even Bill Boyd (my favorite composer during those early years) is no longer mine, for I’m off to caress other keys, make other connections. But memories are just as solid as real things, if not more so; their heartbeats can be stronger than our own. Wait: I stand corrected. Emotional memories. The way it felt. The way it will always feel.
Even the frogs around the house that Mom collects had to be said goodbye to. I rubbed my fingerprints into their stone or metal or glass faces, hoping to imprint myself upon them. It was when I was saying goodbye to the frogs that I started to cry and from there my emotions reached a crescendo. I pounded upon my wall in my room and sobbed…but it was time to go. Time to go. I crashed back into the atmosphere of the physical, Mom’s words letting me down from the universe of my goodbyes. It was time to go.
I write now for the hope of some escape from the waiting, as cliché as it sounds, for my life to begin. Mom made a joke last night at dinner (we had my favorite, leek pasta), something about how every day is the first day of the rest of your life… except for one. But tomorrow, tomorrow is truly that first day. This chapter ends and I start off on my own, alone. I’ll try to stand tall for all the people that believe in me, but I don’t know if I can do it. The hills roll by. We all roll on, tumbling down a great hill, supported only by the connections we’ve made with the world around us. My family, my friends—they won’t keep me from falling for long because the ropes that tie me to them grow slack. They move off in other directions already, make decisions I won’t be around to talk them through, meet other people to hold them up… My great hope right now is in the words and the music, because I believe in both so much and they can never desert me. They will be my pillars of solitary strength as I navigate this new life and find those new people to lift me, to tie me to life. Only I can mistreat them but I vow not to; what is life without music? Without that strange collection of notes and harmonies that can explain the cryptic parts of our souls? And the words that have held me together my entire life—I plan to make them my entire life. Simple black markings on a page, scribbled in margins, written in chalk on sidewalks, so incorporeal they can only be imbued with the intangible, expressing the inexpressible through sentences that speak of airplanes, or windows, or lighthouses. Words I feel tickling my arms when I read, dancing over every thought, a channel for the unknowable mass of the human mind. I plan to study our power, the immutable power of a living, breathing, dreaming human being, through the only method our thoughts have for communication. What capacity! How miraculous! In wonder, yes, that’s how I’ll live. In awe of the miracle of daily life, “daily matches struck in the dark…”
Image credit: http://www.california-blog.com/photos-information-places/tag/grapevine-ca
Quote: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf