Monday, May 30, 2011

Letter to My Future Self

Dear Self,

I write this on the evening of your first wedding anniversary, May 30, 2011. I don't know what you're doing, but I do know who you are, and I like to imagine that your dreams have shifted and grown in ways so unpredictable to me that I'd be surprised by many things about you and pleased that all the good parts have stayed the same. But promise me this: that you have done your best to love him more, and better, every day. That you remember all the reasons that drew you together in the first place.

Yes, you love hiking together, and riding bikes, and badly describing distant birds. And you probably have even more connecting the two of you now: hopefully you will have made some children together, those mysterious beings of the future; though now they seem the strange opposite of ghosts. And yes, there is probably a house, and careers, and no doubt there has been an ongoing series of poorly behaved cats.

But Self, remember that you love the stories he tells you. Remember that you met along a river in the most beautiful place in the world. Remember the nighthawks that hunted overhead when you revisited that place on your honeymoon. How the two of you just watched as they fell through the clean desert air again and again, so close you could feel the rush of their wings. How the faint smell of water blew in on the juniper wind. How the two of you sat for hours, it seemed, without really speaking, because you knew it was special, even as you knew it wasn't: the show happened every night whether the two of you were present or not. It was a chance brush with the world, a convergence of beings, much like your meeting. You looked up at those nighthawks from a shared point on earth. May you have never stopped looking.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bike Here Now

There is a stretch of road on the U of A campus that I often pass through on my bike, just moments after leaving the chaos of the main city streets. It is a gently sloping downhill followed by a gradually curving left turn. The momentum from the downhill carries me effortlessly through the curve, and just as I begin to slow, my smooth pedalstrokes carry me up a slight hill, then downhill again, along the tree-lined road, toward home. There is nothing particularly remarkable about this place, but something about that curve unfailingly brings me joy.

Perhaps it's because I know the rest of the way home is easy, cool, and smooth. Perhaps it's the sweet smell of blossoming campus trees, the density of vegetation unparalleled in the rest of town, and the way the light falls on the red brick campus buildings. But no - it is something less tangible than all of that. It is a perfect moment. The smoothness of the curve, the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle, engaged and present in my body, my mind, and the world around me, and the knowledge that I am almost home - these things snap me so fully into the present moment that my often-wandering mind is momentarily paused. I just am, this moment just is; it belongs to me, and I to it.

This must be a hint at what it means to be fully present. I carry that moment with me always, both invigorated and bewildered by the notion that such discrete moments could become a continuous present, one in which I am fully awake.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Waiting for Summer

"Me and this desert, baby, we get along... It's hot here/it's hot as hell here/swamp cooler and a cold beer/I ain't saying we got it made/but we're gettin' there..."  -Kevin Pakulis

So here we stand, right on the cusp of summer. The days are getting hot - into the 90s - but the mornings and evenings are still cool. The sun rises early and shines its slanted light through our east-facing bedroom window. I love waking up to that, and to the cooing of the doves that serves as an overture to the coming trill of cicadas and the heat that burns the lungs with every breath. I love the sense that each morning, the earth is stoically preparing for yet another beating by the slowly arcing sun. Call me crazy, but I love summer in Tucson.

The desert summer is a great simplifier of things. Everything moves just enough to maintain its function, but no more. The small pleasures of a shady spot to sit or a glass of ice water trigger a physical sense of celebration. We wear fewer clothes and even less makeup, and sweat is a generally accepted accessory.  No one cares if you are stinky and miserable, because we all are.  Tucson is full of people who leave during the summer, but those of us who stay bear our burden proudly. We are the real Tucsonans.

Right now, the saguaros and prickly pear are beginning to blossom in their annual act of defiance against the coming June. The desert holds its breath, waiting for the heat to bear down. When it hits, we will fall into the familiar rhythm of summer days: of rising to greet the sun, and of sunsets all the more spectacular for the relief they bring. The city is quiet, as college students and snowbirds alike have cleared out; the rest of us wait along with the desert.  We are all equally at the mercy of the earth, and are united in our knowledge of that and the smallness of ourselves.  We will talk of the heat as if it is a person, malicious and stubborn.  We will stand in the grocery store produce section for a few extra minutes, commiserating with strangers about how good it feels compared to the hell that is the outdoors.  But the truth is, I think we like having this thing in common.  And come July, we will allow ourselves to speak, and perchance to dream, of rain.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Writer's Block & Vehicle Shock

Greetings, faithful readers! Just thought I'd send a note out into the cloud to say that I'm here, I'm thinking a lot about writing, and I'm writing, well, really... not much at all. It's been a combination of work and travel busyness and writer's block, which I hope to kick soon. Past experience tells me that will mostly involve continuing to give myself opportunities to sit down and write, plus kindly coaxing the muse with coffee or a glass of wine, depending on the hour.

In the meantime, a story to amuse you:

We've recently been considering selling one of our cars, given that in an average week, both cars sit idle five days out of seven, as we get around by bike. Clearly, there was no reason to be paying insurance and maintenance cost on two cars, and we were going to get around to selling one of them... eventually. But as it goes with most such chores, weeks passed with little action.

One day last week, J and I left the house for an early morning bike ride, and noticed that the car in question had a smashed window (unfortunately, not the first time this has happened - we have only on-street parking, and Tucson is notorious for property crime and car theft). The stereo, of course, was gone. It was irritating, but I couldn't even bring myself to be angry - it just seemed like a sure sign from the universe that it was time to become a one-car household.

After a little research into the value of the car in its current condition - the smashed window was not the only problem it had - we decided it wasn't worth trying to sell it and donated it to the local NPR station. They towed it away and will sell it at auction to benefit the station - a beautiful reincarnation, if you ask me.