A River Unfamiliar


Every morning the sky is grey. She wakes up with faith languishing, muddled by the flickering images of escaping dreams. Breath brings her above water, to bob along in the stream she dove into a ways up. There is no turning around, no looking back: the night has erased all traces of the path behind her. She’s at the mercy of the current, at the mercy of speed and gravity, serpentine curves and narrow straights. She’s at the mercy of her limbs, of her breath, of her will and of her fight.

When people asked her why she moved to California, she never had an immediate answer. Inevitably there would be a pause, and usually she included the simple “New York was killing my soul” explanation, but why she came here? That, she could not sum up in 2-3 sentences. She had no elevator pitch, she wasn’t even sure if the whole story had arrived yet. Her best answer thus far: “I’ll let you know when I know.”

Each different city is its own river – a river with unique rapids and eddies, its own depth and breadth, its own wildlife, its own taste. She remembered arriving at the river’s edge, dipping her toe in, looking up and down the stream, sensing the current and the temperature. She didn’t remember diving in, but now she’s wet and swimming, floating and flailing.

Moving to a new city is a process that continues long after feet have landed, suitcases and boxes have been unpacked, keys acquired. The Unfamiliar greets her every morning and accompanies her through her day. Often exciting, often alien and isolating, she and Unfamiliar drift through days with varying amounts of fight and flow.

Some days she doesn’t have the energy to meet Unfamiliar in the flow of excitement. Some days she spends battling old behaviors, trying to free herself from the clutches of cozy procrastination patterns. But she didn’t move out here to go back to sleep. Her dreams are now her day-time activities.

Today she wakes up dreamless. The fog brings with it the faithless. She rises, steeped in this, untangles the weighted wish-less wisps from around her ankles and neck, puts feet to the river-floor, pushes off to the light above. Breath brings her to standing.

The morning rises, the birds begin their dance, wings and feathers weaving infinity in flight. The fog begins to lift. In a few hours all traces of clouds will be gone, the sun will kiss each droplet and ripple. Night will fall again, and the fog will roll back in. And she’ll keep riding the currents of cloudy and clear until she grows gills and fins, learns to breathe and swim in this stream as if she always been here, and has never been apart from it all.

may 20, 2013



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