Friday, January 8, 2016

Love, Home and Forward Motion

When I say “I have never fallen in love” I mean that I’ve never met a boy and fallen in love with him. I grew up with love for my three brothers, a fierce familial love which aches sometimes but is always there. A love that doubles you over in pain when that boy is on the phone after surgery, telling you it’s worse than they thought. And as you watch his skeletal frame entering yet another CT scan you want to take his sickness for him. I have a love that lights my brothers up as they’re talking about that book they just read so all I can see is their brilliance. My love is rooted somewhere in a rest stop in Northern Nebraska, where there was a flash hail storm and Stephen pulled me behind him as he ran to the car, shielding me from the icy pellets. It’s rooted in our home in Columbus, where James read The Dark is Rising out loud to me and Mattathias and I shared a room. A love that does dishes even when it’s their turn and tells them ‘I love you, and it sucks’ ‘I love you but I wish I didn’t’.

I wonder if boy-meets girl love will feel the same, like it’s the strongest pull on you, but just as mundane and taken for granted as the fact that there is gravity on this earth. There is a part of me that pretends I don't care whether or not I ever find out. 

******

When I say “I don’t go home,” what I mean is home is far and I am poor. I mean that my dad and I get along best when there are at least five states between us. I mean that I think that I liked myself better at 18 than I do at 20, and I’d like the people in my life there to remember me as I was and not as I am. And by that I mean I was 110 pounds and anorexic for most of high school It wasn’t until I left for college that I stopped - I mean, started eating again. I don’t know how to acknowledge that without feeling shame. I don’t want to explain it and I don’t know how to talk about it without letting on that I’m wistful.

 Besides all that, I mean that Utah is my home. I have fallen in love with the landscapes here. I love the red rock of Southern Utah, the way it feels alien to me, like I’m exploring a different planet. I love the forests and lakes in the high Uintas, hiking up streams instead of trails to get from lake to lake. The nights there were so much colder than I’d imagined or prepared for. I love that Rock Canyon is ten minutes from my front door and there are over 400 different climbing routes there. How many of my Saturday mornings have I spent with fingertips on rock. I am still in awe of the salt flats, which seem to be God’s punctuation to this mountainous landscape, like he hit a hard return there and left so much nothingness that it’s justified as a destination. I mean that I don’t go home, I just stay there.


**********

When I say “process and decay are implicit,” I am usually whispering it to myself. I am thinking of the British artist and naturalist Andy Goldsworthy. I am imagining him waking up early on a freezing morning in Cumbria and hiking out to cow pasture. He’s building an arch there out of sheets of ice. And he’s already accepted that this structure he’s labored over will melt shortly in the sun or maybe it will be knocked over by a cow or by the old farmer.

           I say it to myself to let go of permanence. Everything is a work and there is “an intensity about a work at its peak.” It’s easy to slip into looking backwards. To those moments of triumph that are commemorated in memory. For example, I will always remember first the cross country race that I ran personal best in. I will remember heavy limbs, sweat on my body and looking at the 20:07 on the clock at the finish.  It’s not until I remind myself, that I remember the early morning runs and two-a-day workouts which built up to that race. I mean to console myself that I may never run that fast again, nor have the inclination to try. And that’s okay. It’s okay to let cycles of my life spin themselves out as long as I am already caught up in the next one - already laboring over another ice arch. Process, peak and then inevitably, decay.