Once I had the face of a worried bird, alone in a cave of a dorm room for months. The snow blew thick against the windows and the dim string of Christmas lights never faltered and the desk scissors grew dull from cutting hair.
Once I lived in a goldfish bowl of golden-hour light, and every movement was ease. For a day, for an afternoon. I said it was so beautiful here, I would always be coming back.
Once I was a drunk, sad and collected in the daylight, using other people’s eyeliner on trains and airplanes, cooking other people’s eggs, angering other people’s neighbors, photographed in a fractured mirror, promenading down a long tree-lined stretch of marble.
Once I was a girl standing in a fountain in a lightning storm. Eating ice cream.
Once I saw the face of a barn owl in a dream, wheeling in broad daylight across I-280 on the peninsula, in those few miles high above the reservoir where there are no buildings to be seen, a flash once, and twice, and I called for you to look, and our car went on barreling north as we gazed backwards.
I have had a rough week. So all day long in my head I’m admiring – my surroundings, the circumstances of today. Forming thoughts carefully.
The formula is: “How…” or “What a…”:
How nice the air feels here. What a beautiful city to work in. How lucky to work near a place that makes tasty burritos. What an energizing walk to be able to take on my lunch. What a wonderful view from the top of this hill. What good memories I have from that summer. How beautiful the landscape was. What a precious opportunity that was. How very many interesting and excellent things there are to think about.
And so on, and so on. This is what I’m doing today, as if I were knitting to keep my thoughts busy instead of my hands. When I get to the end of my rope, there’s another rope, something new to try, something old to try. And when I get to the end of my knitting, there’s a scarf to keep warm with. And so on, and so on.
My grandpa at the beach
said, “We say it
smells like the sea
here, but sailors
‘It smells like land.'”
And I wonder:
Is that how it is here
on the coast
of you, of me?
“I am writing to you on a postcard of where I no longer am – tonight I am in Los Angeles; by this time tomorrow I will be back in San Francisco. What a beautiful and strange ride it has been. I have had so much time to think and become afraid and become unafraid again – spent so many hours by the Indian Ocean amazed to be here – fallen in a love a bit (and still a bit too much), adopted a little brother, spent all my money, turned into a mermaid and back, made and lost a good friend – made my choices – and in the end flown away under the stars”
Today I found out on accident where this beach is. It’s the closest one to LAX, of course, which as it turns out, is literally right next-door to the airport.