I wake to the sensation that my bed is swaying. It is not entirely unpleasant – calls to mind rowing out on the lake, resting the oars and leaning back on the wooden seat, shielding one’s eyes from the early morning sun – although it is a bit unsettling, as one’s bed is not a rowboat.
Here is what I am thinking about: time passing.
And also the questions I have asked that you have not answered.
But never mind about that. “Your mother knows what she knows,” my father once said.
And also: “Don’t ask questions to which you might not want to hear the answers.”
Waking to the sensation of my bed, rocking gently back and forth, from a dream of a conversation I have not had with someone I am not likely to make contact for any significant length of time, except perhaps in passing, except perhaps for a friendly hug and a dry-lipped peck on the cheek at this social event or another, the dream dialogue consisting primarily of guttural sounds and clucks and mild facial contortions.
Have I told you about my canning? If we were to survive an unspecified apocalyptic event, we could emerge from our basement bunker with sufficient spicy carrot pickles and fig preserves and nectarine jam to last for several weeks. In those early days, we could spread banquet after absurd banquet with these artifacts of privilege and feast on them amid the rubble of our decimated city.
Time is passing. There is never enough time.
Waking from shallow sleep, dreams of running through wooded trails or rocking in a boat on a lake or climbing a hill steeper than any hill I have ever climbed awake. That is, awake in the life that I can smell and touch and taste.
We go on. We pack rucksacks with crackers and juice and coffee and fruit – grapes and apples and when they are in season, cherries – and we press on.
There is so little time, and yet here I am, writing these love letters to you, to the world. This shotgun spray, this voice calling out. Maybe someone will hear me. Maybe you.
This solves no worldly problems. It addresses no issues of the day, moves nothing forward.
This promises no long-term outcomes. It is not a theory of change or a tactical plan to achieve a larger goal. It is only: Here I am. Here I am. I am here.
The bed is not in fact, swaying. I am no longer asleep. The people who brought me to this party will not be the ones with whom I leave. We undress ourselves every day, awake or asleep. Anyone paying close attention knows that we are always laid bare all the time and more transparent than we can possibly imagine.
Not the same river. Not the same man, etc.
Eventually, the basement needs sweeping. Eventually, the river forks. Eventually, the decimated city renews itself. In time.
When I was a child, I locked myself in the bathroom unintentionally. I pulled on the door, kicked it, cried out. Then, having exhausted my available options, I slumped to the floor and wept. After what seemed like hours but was likely not, my father cut a small hole in the wooden door, just large enough to pass his hand through and turn the knob from inside. His beautiful, broad hand appearing. His long fingers, scarred by decades of use. His hand: in through the door and then retracted before I could reach out. Before I could grasp it, hold it. Hold him.
Waking with the sensation of the bed in rhythmic motion, as if supporting the rise and fall of bodies, but I am alone. I am so still.
Time passes. The light beckons.