I lean my head back and open the parts of my soul that I can access and look up. Pale blue sky, but not the pale blue of sunrise. It’s pale because the humidity has washed out the color from above; the clouds bleed their fleece into the atmosphere. Time for the sun to set. Time to sit outside and listen to the shrieking cicadas and obliterate the day’s sharp, cracked exterior.
I look up. We’re under an oak tree. A large, strong, expansive oak tree, that has the same smell as the one in my grandparents’ back yard. Actually, there were two trees there. One had a funny little squirrel seat onto which my grandpa would leave corn. They would sit and nibble the corn, leaves softly kissing one another above. A thermometer with a red cardinal on it hung around the tree’s neck, and in the summer the temperatures would seem impossibly high, feel impossibly oppressive. We also knew when it really was summer because then the hammock would be out and we’d dive into it, lie back and laugh, or beg to be pushed, always fighting over who would stay on which side.
Now my grandparents’ house has been sold, the trees chopped down and a family renovated it and are ready to resell again. They had a baby. They turned the downstairs playroom into a finished basement and it is lovely.
I drank and then I drank some more. Everything inside smoothed and swirled into a watercolor of sensation, thoughts were thicker and lacked any emotional attachment. The tree branches, black silhouettes against the evenly fading sky, cracked open the nightly beauty of the sun setting. Orange, purple and a touch of pink were less vibrant than normal, steamed and settling, fleeting as the earth turned further. Nothing can stop the forward progression of time and space and living, everything is an opportunity to find love and some corner of whole contentment, if the heart is open and the mind lacks fear.
We watched the sky become darker, bodies finally collapsing into the thickness of fatigue. There were no fireflies this evening, just the tiny beacons of lit cigarettes, fading and winking unnaturally and seeping their poison smoke into the air. Some people can exhale forcefully and push the smoke from their line of vision. Others are lost in the fog, sometimes because they enjoy the heady sensations of oblivion. There is always the opportunity for balance and inventive ways to wade through the humidity and push the branches to one side, because sometimes this is the only way that the full spectrum of the sunset can be seen and the true depth of vitality experienced. And no matter whether it rains or heats up, or is the most glorious day the planet has seen, love always is at the beginning, the end and throughout every atom of each day’s passing.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”