Thursday, December 10, 2009

Living in Dreamtime...

It's time to wake up.

I learned her history later. Much later. Far too late.

Her world was oddly compelling, a fantasia of emotional excesses and sensual delights. I saw her after class once slowly running her hand over the bark of a tree, just to feel the texture on her palm.

She told me she liked songs that were blue. "Oh, you like the blues?" No, she said. Songs that were blue. And she told me she saw colors in songs and sometimes tasted them too. I loved this metaphor for music; I didn't realize at the time that she meant it literally.

So when she called me in the middle of the night to go walking in the rain, I went. And I brought an umbrella. She wanted to throw it in the trash, then relented and let me hold onto it as long as I didn't open it. "I didn't know it would be so smooth and triangular," she said as she raised her head up to meet the falling raindrops.

She had a soft beauty that engulfed everyone she met and a sharp temper that pushed away everyone who got close to her. Her eyes twinkled and seemed to change color depending on her mood. She morphed from day to day (and sometimes from hour to hour), seemingly existing less in this dimension than in some other magical dimension I could never quite access.

Her compliments were life-affirming with a depth that was almost unfathomable. A few compliments from her and a doubting man would not only believe, but testify.

But her scorn was equally deep -- and often based on nothing that could be seen from a normal, earthly plane.

Here's what she didn't tell me, what I wish I'd known: she ran.

Starting when she was 6, she would run away. Whenever things got difficult (and that happened more than anyone knew), she'd take off. At first it was to a cave in the woods by her house. Years later it was ping-ponging between her divorced parents. Later, it was going around the world, leaving dust trails in her wake and confused people looking at the tracks she left on her way out.

But no one told me. Least of all her.

And when the closeness got too much for her, she did what she always did. She ran.

And I looked back at the shattered wreck she'd left behind and tried to figure out what the hell had just happened.

Years later, I still don't know. And if there's a happy-ending machine in this story, I clearly didn't know how to operate it.

But last night it rained. And I went out for a walk with no umbrella, feeling the raindrops, trying to understand if they were smooth and triangular. And I came home and listened to some of her favorite songs just to see if I could tell which ones were blue. (Link for Gmail subscribers.)


Maggie said...

Your story is very sad and lovely.

I can't say that I see colors when I listen to music, but I understand.

Sarah said...

Great post, but yes, very sad and lovely. In a perfect world I would be listening to 'The Old Kind of Summer' by the Black Heart Procession
when reading this...its got everything you need for a sad story...rain, piano and a bit of accordian ..and the line 'every walk I take I'll count the steps further away from you'
Sorry to ramble, I do love that song ;)

Alex said...

Sarah, I'd never heard the Black Heart Procession, but I checked out that song -- you're right, it's beautiful, melancholy, and wonderful.

Thanks for dropping by.