Sunday, September 30, 2018

antes de que la espera

I am rushing, speeding to mass, a pit in my stomach as I think of how late I will be. As I arrive at Blessed Sacrament for mass, I am surprised to see the parking lot still busy with families parking and making their way into the liturgy. I am given some encouragement by these people who do not seem rushed, but rather have accepted they are late—the important thing is to get there.

I have spent most of September rushing—if not physically, then mentally and spiritually—I rush to catch the train or plane, I rush to plan out how to move into my apartment, how to make it to a wedding through a hurricane, how to be present to my friend in the basement, how to find someone to write for Monday, how to finish morning prayer before going to work—and I caught myself doing it again as I rushed down the highway to Seabrook. This was a beautiful coastal drive through lush Carolina forest and there I was again rushing—why?

I step off the plane and into the thick Southern humidity. It's one of those days where the window panes are dripping with the misty fog of heat. That's the sort of humidity we're talking—even the weather is slow.

I begin to drive into this humidity that hangs in front of everything like a veil. It is hard, as I drive down the highway that is not an interstate, with a 55 mph speed limit, not to wish away this drive, and skip to the part where I am already in Seabrook, on the beach.

I was so eager to arrive at an arbitrary destination—to turn anything short of the eschaton into a destination is the first step towards unhappiness. To live life in expectation of destinations arriving is always to live in something of a disappointment, for really you could make life into an endless series of destinations, one always popping up just as you are reaching it—I want to skip through the weekend, to get to an end that I have constructed. I am missing the beautiful Carolina coastal oaks dripping with Spanish moss, ignoring the lush, heavy air of a Southern Saturday pregnant with thunderstorm.

Last night, as we danced, I was eager to get to—what? Something that wasn’t here. An end to this moment to get to something beyond it. But why? I couldn't answer the question, and something in the simple loss of self in movement pulled me back into the present. For a moment, you don't have to think, you can simply listen to the rhythm being poured into the world through the DJ's speakers, and move in time to that. And in the movement, you can be still.

I stayed too long on the screened porch of Denise’s Seabrook home, and that's how I ended up running late for mass. As I quickly showered the salt out of my hair, cleaned the house, emptied the fridge and gathered my sparse belongings, I almost did not return to do the required second-glance at all the rooms, the necessary double check and once-over required before leaving hotel rooms and coffee shop booths.

I had my wallet, my charger, and my phone. Was anything else necessary? What else of value had I brought that could not be replaced easily?

As I popped my head into a bedroom I hadn't used, I saw on the dresser arguably the only possession I had brought that could not have been replaced—the ring bought in the Tel Aviv market, whose stone the artist informed me was a sign of new beginnings. Sometimes you have to bring omens with you when you start something new. An instant pit formed in my stomach of the thought of carelessly leaving it behind.

My heart fluttering with that terrible panic of the close call, I picked up the ring, walked around the house once more, and closed the door behind me. Calming my rushing heart and mind, I start the car, urging them to patience, to prevent them from, in their frantic chugging forward, missing new beginnings.

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