Learning the Lay of the Land

I looked out over the mountain of your shoulder blade, the warm light peeking over its strong, smooth curve. It was the intimate sunrise about which I had dreamed of seeing: I’d heard about this country where I hoped such sights were possible, but secondhand information and reading books of yore were no substitute. I felt your grip tighten, and I knew that you could see something similar, yet with different subtle highlights and shapes in the cloud formations. I couldn’t wait to hear your perspective, later, as I knew we would sit, legs touching just gently, the odd whispered apology punctuating an innocent nervousness; we were still both newborns in a world we’d inhabited for decades and observed with eyes half closed.

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You spoke of another land, which had plants and creatures I had never known. In mine, the inhabitants I once knew all adopted different languages; I always struggled to understand. And as we sat, warm but not heated, we both developed a new tongue, one in a different accent using words which most have lost. I like old things, especially relating to language, and the look in your eyes signified that you understood. We were preparing to walk the same hills, view similar vistas and describe them for one another because we understood that taking pictures and looking them over, digitally, becomes tiresome to those who have traveled. I’d been on the road for so long that my eyes had begun to ache, so we spoke instead, over that shared bottle of wine which was ‘subpar,’ they said. ‘Superb,’ we agreed, as we planned what we wanted to see next. Never had I been with one so articulate, who could see the nuances in each blade of grass, and who could show me the tiny animals moving in the distance. Never had I encountered another who embraced and thrilled to the pinpoints of light and color and landscape somehow telling and painting these wonders before us both.

I tried to use music to describe what I saw for you. Notes and lyrics were my tools of choice. Having tired of trying to make the words fit for so long, I knew that path was not to be walked any longer, but I was scared as I had never composed before. Especially for another human being. But after a while I noticed that you’d softly, oh so softly, started to hum along with me.

There are rocks in places. There are clouds and crags and vicious beasts. There is decay, rebirth and decay again. There are long sandy beaches and the chill of the ocean in the morning. There are forests and rivers and tiny seasonal flowers. There are trails, wilderness, desert, warmth and cold. And there will always be that sunrise I know we both shall watch, your hand tightly in mine.

I know this is not a dream because I know this country always existed, but understood that it would never be accessible to me with a map.

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