Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What You Knew Would Come Again

Last year

My neighborhood is getting beautiful again. We are through the time of bare twigs and mud and my neighbors in the big old Queen Anne homes have daffodils and plum trees blooming in their yards. When this happens, you notice different things, like the silhouette of a heron weathervane on top of one house, or the way the big canopy of a magnolia tree frames a doorway of another, perfectly formed like giant bonsai.

Today’s walk was both gentle and fierce. The cold of it left my face shining and flushed, and the first thing I did at the office was put my hands around a hot mug of tea. But my ipod and I were in perfect harmony and my umbrella wasn’t up for a moment, nor did a drop of rain touch my head the whole way. I stopped and tried to take cell phone photos of the cherry trees blooming against the sky, I wanted to show you how pretty they were, tell you how they are a stubborn cliché that clings to my soul every spring, pleasing me over and over again, the reminder of them making me grateful, even while I am contrite for having forgotten.

It’s just the beauty of the world that I’m talking about, again. Pam and I are always telling each other Why we are not Buddhists, and it is because of this – we both have souls that are perpetually moved by the forces outside and around us, like tattered, wind-whipped flags. A series of grey dark days of rain can act on us like a lover taking himself away, wounding us. But then the light restores us, spring changes us, and we are our better selves again. Our souls are like favorite skirts getting caught in a bicycle chain, the love that animates the world catches us and no matter how many times we shred ourselves on it, we get back on and make that spectacle of ourselves again, beautiful and dangerous, flying.

Remember those dramatic, ridiculous skirts of girlhood? Twirling skirts, we called them. Or maybe it was a scarf for you, or a kid’s superhero cape, or the way you felt riding a horse or sailing down the middle of an empty street on your skateboard, or how you never ever wanted to wear a coat. Any way you had of flinging yourself into the world, declaring your intention to go for motion or beauty, to make a spectacle of yourself, to feel and feel and feel. That was the stuff, as a kid.

We’ve all, at one point or another, made note of how that kind of abandon is harder to risk in adulthood. Maybe now the mention of a long skirt and a bicycle together in the same sentence makes you roll your eyes a little, since that image is a little dorky, a little embarrassing, especially since you are as likely as anything to be wearing a helmet with that bicycle, and that just doesn’t go with the skirt.

Still, spring comes, and however tentative we get, however many warm jackets we wear, however we insist on having our feet steady on the ground, there is always the way the new season fills us without our asking it to, in deep breaths, one after the other, lungfuls of cut grass and new growth, all we need to survive the light rain still falling on pavement. And later, there will be lilac, and long days, and trips to Sambar in sandals. It is always again, eventually, summer.


Pam said...

Hey look! I can do this on my phone! Heather just rocks....entirely. What a gift, the way she keeps reminding us about the world!

Christina said...

This is such great writing and it makes me anxious for spring here, where there is mostly mud and snow still in the forecast.

Heather said...

Well the funny thing is that the day I posted this, it actually snowed here. In Seattle. In March. So that's just... wrong.

h a i k u g i r l said...

Once again, Miss Malcom, once again I'm all drunk on your writing and feeling like you are about 10 minutes from turning into a cherry blossom.

Funny thing though. Today I was wondering why I am NOT a Buddhist. For reals! Hee.