I rode the carousel today. My favorite carousel used to be in that New Jersey mall. Weird to think of a fairground ride, a children’s delight in the middle of such corporate opulence, but joy can be found anywhere. When I was little, my mother’s delicate voice singing Joni Mitchell’s poignant and realistic lyrics used to make me cry.
“We can’t return we can only look/Behind from where we came.”
I don’t and never liked it when things are over, the permanence of being pushed forward by an unseen breeze, that sometimes is gently encouraging, while at others is forceful and painful. It’s most frightening when the skies are dark and threatening for the wind whips up, but those days happen as oft as the bold blue skies and caressing air.
With the deceptively unnatural carousel movement, I realized how hard it was to look backwards at the little one next to me, and crane my neck as the horses and dragons and lions and immobile chariots moved around and around and up and lazily down for the three-minute reprieve from reality. Returning to something that does not exist anymore is impossible, but the minute loss that occurs with each movement of the clock hands and each spin of the ride adds up like those sums no one wants to do when school is suddenly back in session. This addition is heavy; I remember that I always liked multiplication tables better. Order and control. Neat rows and a logical progression.
“We’re captive on the carousel of time.”
Later, that afternoon, when I climbed off the swings I was so dizzy I nearly,embarrassingly, threw up. But now I’m the grown up so I have to set an example. For years, when I was young, that ride – the swings – was my favorite; I felt like I was flying on each turn. We’d move fast, riders looking for a thrill, in an ever-widening circle, arms out like airplane wings, feet swaying into nothing. The creaks of the seat chains and mechanics would be drowned out by the wind rushing against my ears, and from those seats I would see the sea. Today, clutching at the bars and hoping not to fly out, I saw the lake.
“There’ll be new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty/Before the last revolving year is through.”
My dreams were never complicated and now some of them have spun off, faster than the rides I would ever go on. But as for those other dreams, those authentically celestial – now they have come true, and will come true, for forward momentum with more hands and hearts is the only way to progress. Adding, not subtracting. Yet any and all memories are beautiful and as brilliant as the glittering fairground lights that start to compete with the summertime fireflies and the stars, which have been brighter, more so than ever, as of late. Everything is embellished with true starlight from within, and despite the ever-turning carousels and accruing past, the microscopically diminishing future, we are sidereal. Eternally.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”