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Life was good the other week. So good, I decided to write about it. I was living with my head out the window while going 75 down the interstate. My face brushed with fresh air. My hair knotted in a bind I could untangle later. I was living in the present. The glorious and swelling present. Which is how I knew that at some point, I’d have to take an exit. Whether it be to stop for gas, or re-fill the air in a tire, I didn’t know. To cancel an international mission trip the morning of, or fly home with nothing but a few sweaters, I was unsure. But I knew something was coming--I knew I had to prepare-- so I wrote this:
“and when it comes time for me to go back under, and that time will come, for the Sun also sets, then I will adjust my focal point to the underside of the water’s surface. The horizon’s foundation...And in that magnetic darkness, I will stretch my hands upon the sandy shore, uttering the words so longed to hear by the world: thank you.”
(27 February 2020)
I prepared myself with gratitude.
I washed my hands with the understanding that where I want to be cannot be located on a map. That the happiness I want to drink with my morning coffee cannot be measured out in spoonfuls like sugar. It’s all going to have to come as it is, and I’m going to have to go to it, too. We’re just going to have to meet in the middle, I guess, like I have to do with most good things that don’t have printable shipping labels, yet somehow make me smile with a timelessness as steadfast as the silverware set my parents received on their wedding day. They never would have picked those exact spoons for themselves, yet here I am, swirling one around in my coffee. Twenty-four years later.
A mindless act, that thing I’m doing now. Growing up an only child, my parents wanted so badly for me to hurry up and be just like them (all while staying so innocently small). It wasn’t a plea of conformity, but more of a hurry up and ride your bike without falling so we can pedal by the water together. Hurry up and grow taller so we can brush the backs of our horses in unison. Hurry up and learn to love the taste of coffee so we can sit on the porch and sip it under a sunrise.
To get to that point, they began slowly adding coffee to my milk. Until I was able to drink the inverse of adding a splash of milk to my coffee. To this day, that’s my favorite part of it all. The slow burn of the suspended clouds as they first begin to drip into the darkness. I watch my reflection begin to fade as the blackness turns to tarnished cream. Gravity works first, mixing the light and the dark, and then the twenty-four year old spoon takes over with its instinctive swirling motion. And after all of that, I guess I don’t even need to add sugar. I guess the only kind of happiness I need comes from a morning routine. From that day my dad finally stopped holding on as I pedaled fiercely down a road patched with gravel. From the first time my mom taught me how to walk around an animal that was forty times my weight, always comforting them with my touch and reassuring them with my words that they’ve met me before, and I’m only here to do what I’ve always done: exist alongside them.
Life will be good as long as I’m living it. And whether or not I have to sit in my bedroom a little longer or wear the same sweatpants a little more often, I’m still doing the best I can. And when that coffee turns bitter, and I doubt it ever will, I’ll still keep sugar in the back of the cabinet, just in case. And even though I am back in my childhood home, I am at least tall enough to reach it on my own.