The sounds of flowing water, funneling air, or rain falling hard against tin roofs have always comforted me. I keep a fan on all night, perched close to my head. I fall asleep in cars, as their constant humming soothes me. I long for windy days on which my thoughts could be swept away in a gust, and for some moments I could be just Emily without the memory of my life.
When else can we forget who we are? Or rather, see ourselves with such clarity to temporarily pop out the dents served to us in our years on earth? I survey the tin of my body, all hammered-in and rusted-through, and the gears of my mind, some stuck, others spinning wildly out of control. What did I look like before this, untouched by life’s ruckus?
But back to the wind, and the rain. What about constant motion is so soothing? Perhaps I must also be continually moving.
As a child, I was still more often than not. I walked outside so that I could think of all the things life was, could be, or would be. Our street sloped downhill, lined with ungroomed forest and speckled with the half-moon leaves that spiraled gently down from the eucalyptus, each of them as a perfect dancer, spinning silently. The smell of the crescent moons and of rain, mixed together and caught up in the breeze, told me that life was going to be beautiful. I daydreamed constantly. I would be an artist, or a writer, or a musician. I would be unique in my thoughts, and strongly alone. I would need nothing but my mind and my character, and when life beat me down, I would find my strength.
Now that I have grown from my daydreaming, ten-year-old self, I have met some of life’s beatings, but not this strong woman who is ultimately untouched. Yes, I am alone, as all of us really are. Life has hurt me. I do not live on such a street anymore, and I cannot walk outside to hear the wind disturbing hundreds of those half-moons, so that they might whisper to me the person I would be.
Well, here is the person I am. I am constantly plagued by worry, and anxiety turns my stomach when stillness catches me. I desire comfort more than anything else, but the more I seek it, the sparser it appears. I cannot focus on the beauty in life that once infatuated me, because worry is constantly gripping my mind. I feel the need to escape, but escape from what?
I know I was not wrong about myself. I will be strong and alone, with a unique mind and a unique art. But I have always been impatient, and every morning as I wake to the sound of the fan, so familiar that it is transparent against the traffic, I wonder if this day is the day that I become who I wanted to be.
Growing up, growing away.
I lived on a mountain. The air bit at your skin at 5am. At 7am, we’d eat porridge, half our bodies hiding under the tablecloth, warmed by the breath of a vornado heating fan. 3pm’s were sunny or rainy. In the sun, the trees speckled shadow’s across the uneven pavement- we rode our bikes down the hill, and I aimed mine for the cracked pavement, where it raised and split from a tree root. The bike would get a few inches of air, and this satisfied me. In the rain, I watched the droplets stream down the window, making frustratingly asymmetrical journeys to the bottom of the pane. The water tank outside overflowed from the rainfall, making the sound of a large gutter or a small stream.
At 8pm, there was mostly darkness. The sky, hiding behind the branches of the tall trees, was a mixture of deep black and bright light. Just as plentiful as were the raindrops plastering the window, were the stars, washed across the blackness. They would shimmer, some of them coming in and out of vision. It sometimes seemed like there might be 20 per cricket, flickering, winking with each chirp.
The stars were overshadowed greatly, though. I would look far, crane my neck as I had to just to look at the lights of the city, all orange and red and green. They were holding the promise of excitement, success, a future- a glimpse into life in a real city. I imagined they were the lights of skyscrapers, real city structures, and not the orange streetlights of little Hilo.
I live in a city now- 5am’s are not chilly, but merely cooler, so I might search in the dim glow for the thin blanket neglectfully kicked away in the air of 12 am. Large trucks growl and grumble outside my room. I do not see them, and in my half-sleep, they are just empty noise. As I wake up slowly, I identify the release of air, the BEEPBEEPBEEP of a bus, letting off and picking up. I recognize the heavy, overworked garbage truck from its tired, deep wheezing. A car alarm goes off, seems to end, and repeats. Over and over. I begin to feel violent. By 7 am, I have once again discarded the blanket.
By midnight, I am looking through the mess of the city, searching for lights. There are lights all over, but they bluntly stab my sight. It is the few visible stars, faintly gazing through the city light, that I fixate on, holding the memory of a quieter, cooler place where less thoughts were wasted in the brightness, and more thoughts were whispered away into the dark.
Here is my city, all aglow. It is overtaking the memory of that mountain day by day- with each that passes, I long less for light bulbs, and more for stars.