After driving all day, I drive some more through the perpetual winter rain and cross the blue-lit bridge over the swampy water to crowd myself into a lecture hall. Ijeoma Oluo speaks about having hard conversations and how we hurt people of color with our blind acceptance of this system. She shares ways to be less hurtful. Read her book.
Next to me a white-haired woman hugs her puffy coat and repeatedly strokes the screen of her phone, putting it away and pulling it out again over and over. She applauds half-heartedly when others do. On the other side of me, a woman reaches into her bag over and over for her clanking metal water bottle and a bag of snacks. In front of me, a college boy eats a salad from the dining hall and sips the dressing from the plate.
Afterwards, I escape the crowd quickly and cross back over the bridge, thankful for the path amidst the distractions.
Only one dry day this month. On the highways, all detail is lost in sheets of spray. In yards, all earth is mud. My lungs are heavy with damp. Fuck. This. Rain.
At least the branches of my Japanese Maple show up to each downpour, dressed in jewels.
I almost forgot the sky was blue.
And that my breath could be something other than my breath mixed with dust and cat hair.
And that even my tongue knows how to smile
Sometimes it’s a coincidence. The curve of lichen echoes the curve of metal. Both look like signs of aliens to me. Like an abandoned ship and the invasive species that leaked from it. And while I don’t believe in visiting aliens, I do believe in patterns. Life can’t help but copy life.
More than Winter Solstice and it’s offering of a couple measly minutes of extra light. And more than New Year’s with it’s false bravado. It’s the first blooms of daphne that mark my victory through the drag of winter. Every time I leave my house, the sharp scent gently slaps my face:
Wake up. You made it. I’m here.
I don’t want to write about flowers or sunshine or moss. I don’t want to go to work or the gym or the coffee shop. I’m not enticed by his bed or her book or even my own blanket-draped couch. I don’t want to wallow and I don’t want to shine. This gray on gray. It’s fine.
Remember that on one branch there is bud and lichen and moss and bark and insect and dew and sun and breath and bird poop and squirrel fur and the fingerprints of an eight-year old and three long strands of my gray hair. I stuck my head into the universe of the soon-to-bloom tree and remembered I was a star.