I remember standing by the window in the parlor looking at the evening sky in the Blue Hour. It was the winter of our first year and I loved standing in the empty room watching the colors change before my eyes. I never noticed in L.A. or San Francisco, was I too busy, too young, was it smog? What the hell was I doing in middle of nowhere Minnesotain winter on a farm, broke, bruised, tired and so damned cold. Memories that flash like photographs, still frames of my life that suddenly become a movie in my mind.
That day the snow was different, it looked like whitecaps on the ocean from the wind, the sun had warmed the top then nights froze the waves in place. There was a crust and I’d gone out to walk on it earlier, to feel it crunch and see how far I sank. God how you laughed at me, sinking thigh deep and struggling, the stubborn woman who wouldn’t turn back. Get it while I can, enjoy what I have, this new world and life I chose with you. I’m cold and tired but I have a new world. No, we have it.
Like the nights I had off in summer and fall when the colors soften and change, the birds settle in and the world gets quiet, I waited to watch that unbroken ocean of white. There were so few nights off during the Holidays but this night I had my time and my sights, I’m a watcher and magic is free. Slowly the night turned Indigo, deep, heavy purple-blue and the world was still early, no voices, no birds, no tires on the highway. Finally the yard light came on and I saw it, the ground sparkling everywhere I looked. It was as if someone had thrown millions of diamonds across the acre of lawn. It took my breath away and I stayed standing in the dark room, I didn’t want to look away.
Does the mid afternoon sunshine cause you to pause and reflect as you watch the particles of dust before you float around in the sun’s rays? I can remember how it suspended my thoughts to this higher consciousness since I was around five years old. I specifically recall one event. My aunt and grandmother would sometimes take me on day trips, often to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. On the drive home, one particular trip, I distinctly remember thinking as the sun shined through the car window and into my face, this is all going to pass before you so quickly and will be gone faster than you can imagine. Then I remember feeling sick to my stomach, that sinking feeling that sometimes lies in truths.
In retrospect, that’s pretty deep for a five-year-old. I knew then that life was fleeting, and that one day I’d be all grown up and that one day my grandmother would die, and that one day everyone else would too. But in that moment, a time when I was far away from death or illness, it felt like death was something that happened to other people, not my relatives. I believed this half heartedly hoping it was true like how older children still believe in Santa Clause, well, kind of, but know he’s a myth. I experienced this feeling of living in a realm of immortality until of course, the day I was woken up by an early morning phone call telling me that my grandmother had cancer, it was that day I could no longer ignore the imminence of death.
Even after she died, and I was in my early twenties, I felt the same sense of immortality. It wasn’t until I sprained my wrist, my first injury ever, that I began to realize how fragile my life was. And of course, there’s nothing like a brush with Death to make you realize how quickly a life could be taken. When I talk about Death, I am not talking about it in the verb form as inthe act of dying. I am literally talking about Death himself, The Grim Reaper.
It’s funny how memory works and how it doesn’t. How we remember things the way we want to remember them rather than how they really were. The new Britney Spears dance song, “Till the World Ends” is an intense pop club anthem that brings up many vivid memories from my past. Just hearing it takes me back to the days of finagling myself into clubs that were for 21 and older when I wasn’t. When I listen to this song, I can see the low lighting, and flashing strobe lights of the club. I can almost feel the vibrations of the speakers against my body as I picture myself back in time, dancing in stilettos in a glittering sea of people. It was a whimsical time full of fashion, fun, and fabulosity- wait, am I thinking of my life or the entire premise of the TV series Sex in the City?
Rewind. Most of what I described was true, the sore feet the next morning from the stilettos, the nerves wondering if the bouncer would let me in, the sweaty gyrating crowds. It was fun, those nights were late and full of alcohol and chain smoking, smokey eyed make up and the sparkliest earrings money could buy. The mornings were full of hang overs mainly, and then the inevitable memory recall. Who knew trying to think of the previous night’s events in chronological order could be so challenging? Then there were the inevitable conversations with friends about the night, the “I said what?”s, and the mocking of anyone who was exuberantly creepy or offensive.