I light a lighter.
I watch the flame, then hold my hand over it, gauging the heat as it pierces the air and reaches my palm. I lower my hand; feel the line of heat cutting into my skin; feel it sharpen. I will play with it until I get burned.
We bring these sorts of things upon ourselves.
We find a thing that feels good.
A cup of coffee. Black. A cotton t-shirt, two old shoes. A sandwich. A cookie. Cold beer.
This thing has a sort of warmth that rises up around us; snags and captures our attention.
Yes. This thing. I like this thing.
And we want more.
Steam some milk, a dash of sugar.
An iron, some leather, a crease. A donut; a cupcake; a slice of pie.
The first beer after a rough day; the first drink of a night with promise. The burn and the warming of whiskey.
The thing begins to seem less flavored or nearing flavorless; the taste begins to lose its edge.
a.) We chase it.
The thrill of pursuit. The high of the hunt. The flicker and the promises of pleasure.
Macchiato, caramel, extra hot. Smoking. Smoked meats. The elegance and mastery of heat. A label, a luxury, a line.
Driving. Driving fast. Driving fast and dodging cars; driving despite other drivers.
The objective sharpens. The context – our relativity – seeps away.
Let’s saturate these sensations and drown our senses and sensibilities. Let us get drunk on our indulgence. Let’s turn today free and blur the idea of tomorrow.
Come on, darling. Let us toast to the here and now.
We run it down. We find a frenzy; become frantic in our attack at its all-ness.
We want to exhaust it; map the ends of it.
Heaving. Heaving. The sweat at the edge of a brow; the maddening frustration of an endless pursuit.
The fury and the crash of a lurching ocean; a storm overtaking the laws of nature and the work of man.
We dance at the edges of these things, flirt with the limitations of their makeup against ourselves. Almost always, however, with these things, we will exhaust ourselves before we’ll ever exhaust the ends of the earth or these endeavors.
The sun rises the next morning.
We’ve got tubs of glitter overturned across the hardwood; sparkles echoing in the light.
The washer is rocking, a spin cycle awry. The bath is running; the water, long since cold, spilling over its edges. Bleeding out and over the floor.
Oil floats iridescence across the water, ribbons and rainbows in the sun.
There’s mildew in our bathrooms and mold beneath the cake.
We are choking on sequins; blinded by light.
b.) We set the thing down. Let it go. Walk away.
Our lives are built with toothpicks. We exist in soapy bubbles.
We are tiny routines and little habits, and though our world feels like the whole world to us (or vice versa), the reality is that our firsthand perception of the world – that being those bits that constitute our day to day life – are really quite small.
We stand eye to eye on opposites sides of a bed. It’s got this great big white down comforter, and we are both touching it, tugging and about to stop tugging, having an unspoken debate on the appropriate investment in smoothness. We each try to put this on the other.
We could sleep against the floor. Don’t you remember?
And yet here we spend our mornings agonizing over down.
I drank a cup of yesterday’s coffee.
I had already poured it and taken a sip before I realized, was already pot committed, so to speak, before I set to brewing more.
My boots are weathered, the leather uppers worn away from shifting. I don’t want to run the chase.
I unzip them, running metal teeth open along my calf. I peel dampened, dirty socks off of cold feet.
And I walk barefoot over an earth that goes from moss to mud. Each footstep is all I need to know.
Leave the rest behind.
We take ourselves away from our day-to-day lives and tuck ourselves into places where most of what we believe we need is stripped away. We land ourselves in destinations made of almost nothing, and invest our senses in an appeal and allure that lies in its simplicity. We turn our attention to earth and trees.
It is not the first of everything, but it is certainly the first of something. And on this we agree to agree.
It is a measurement. A playing out; a proving that “happy” can be made of this alone. And, just so, that we can do it.
Here is a place of “only;” not a place of “and.” The most exciting things are the earth’s textiles, jutting up against the sky. It is an earth’s carpet – a soil built from fallen leaves. A frog. Here, a frog. There, it had been a toad. I took each one into my hand. A soil; smooth rocks… smooth though the walls are rugged; jagged; chiseled. The wet shine of an iris; the fog of an exhale. A composition.
The earth turns into water at the edges of many versions of our world.
And when we step here, we are standing low on rocks with water ebbing against them and looking out across a water of metal. We stand at the edge of this and we brush up against something new and yet familiar. There is a gentle rising of a tide much warmer than expected; warmer than it needs to be. Below the surface, something that clings in a way that is welcomed; embraced. Desired.
We wade in. And then we wait.
I am present. I don’t wander and I don’t stray.
There is something here about rocks and shorelines. What was it that was said? Something… something. Something about the way the island was built; something about layers of lakebed washing up; a speculation.
Here, though, we are against the earth. Wading into warming waters; working our way through forests, our feet sinking into stone-studded soil; dwarfed by the formations of rock.
White rock. Broken rock. Great big cubes of broken rock. Great fragmented blocks of rock.
Eyes cast up at these things. And we imagine – without realizing – what we can do with it.
We can carve from rocks the sort of things that suit us to consume; we can chip away at the face of cliff and break it down; take away what we can carry; take bits home with us, to use as the walls of towers we erect. And this tower shall be our home.
We do not call this thing a castle. That would be old fashioned. It’s not called that anymore.
There is no prince; no princess. It is just a place in which we be.
Or we can leave the rocks as mountain faces, stand before them and then look up, climb a line of sight across the edges that tower over us.
There are walls of white stone; three layers of exquisite; the silhouette and likeness of a rook. An indulgence in simplicity and understated; the unsaid.
Driving. Driving slow. Driving at the speed of absorbing warmth and pattern and color.
The loll of warm water beneath boats. The gentle, indiscernible rising of a tide.
Ducking under fences, walking across the natural grasses of a pasture, making our to horses we have no right to touch.
Running our hands over their faces, along the broad, flat plane of their cheeks. Leaving it at that.
Ducking into little diners with brown pleather chairs and wood-paneled walls because we think it’s charming and quaint to go to places like this. Drinking bad coffee out of chipped mugs with the speckled pattern. Order the “famous” waffles with cherry topping and marvel to find the cherry, not the waffles, worthy of the claim.
The leaves. The leaving.
Things are falling both into and out of place.
The soft hum of a silent room.
I am tucked up against a window frame, watching buses one floor below.
Toenails painted pink with the slow gesture of each deliberate stroke.
I am sipping at black coffee; scar tissue goes unseen against my palm.
The street, wet from the rain, shimmers below me.
The oils in my coffee are iridescent.
The sun is rising overhead.