Dusty waves of snow lap the pavement in curved sheets, rounded like a preschool teacher’s sample shapes. A lesson in scissor dexterity. Wind propels the white mass against my shoes, breaking formation like a group of synchronized swimmers, dancing in spirals around my calculated steps and meeting again on the other side. Floating in fluid union, they reach the nearside of the park and splash onto the last patch of autumn’s green.
A thought buds in the dormancy of visited memories. A memory that until now was a past moment, crusted-over by time and intentional forgetting. Not a memory at all. As the idea forms in the patience of retrospection, the flush of time drips from the walls of my mind. I am sitting on a wooden bench in the Met. Ahead of me, Washington is crossing the Delaware. On the border of my periphery there is the crescent edge of a face, a face who’s mouth is spouting what its mind believes to be hard facts about the style of my existence. You’re supposed to care about my being. There I sit, staring straight ahead, growing wary of all the supposed-to-be’s that might soon make you and me an unshapely us.
You tell me I see split frames of life in words, strung out like sentences eagerly inviting more letters to conjoin and flop together, becoming unnecessary, cluttered clauses. There are too many ways to say the same thing, you whisper, and I see them being said all at once. That makes me troubled and beautiful, expressive and verbal, in each passing moment. It makes me hollow and undefined. You tell me that this is why I like to be alone. No one tells me the truth when I am my sole presence. I am free to form truth for myself and so I am then as secure or frightened as I make myself to be. Reality does not allow me to define the world on my own terms, you insist. It does not work that way. All of my interactions with other people are premeditated. That they are make you ill, you confess. I am not going to learn anything more about myself unless I loosen the grip on my solitary comfort and let someone else, another soul, plant a seed within my heart.
You pretend it is not you who wishes to garden the plot of my existence, but you are more than aware that the fence is high around my perimeter and you are much too small to simply hop over. You hold to this conception that there is fertile ground on the other side because I have allowed you a glimpse of the fresh fruit that grows within. Your words, your actions, they are a plot to alter the core of my being. You think I am fixed in an existence that has potential to flourish so long as you move in as an element in the formula. That multitude of perceptions you so keenly express as a fault to me is a blessing. The doors do not close. Interpretation breeds possibility. It packs the moments of our life with value. They can be revisited and reinterpreted and redrawn to shade the portraits of our lives. You see the picture drawn frigidly, curated for an exhibit that everyone must see through your eyes.
Retrospective musing, how you tantalize me with what might have been spoken in that benched moment! How you insert your backbone into the reconstructed past! How many days had I spent with a souring soul who wanted to break down the pillar of my self and rebuild some false shrine? Retrospection, you tell me now the trouble I went through to feed feelings for an eventual adversary was both eroding and necessary. The scars from her removal left me with far too much cautiousness in the years since. The knowledge she did not possess that which would pollinate the fruit of my soul has allowed me to stave off facsimiles who likewise attempted to invade. Though I do not wish to see her, I tell the stain she left on me what the memories of our time together bring me to understand: Call me closed or call me selfish, for both may be true. I’d rather be writing my own truth than have to keep bending the story to fit the likes of you.
This memory dances at my feet much like the white wave of snow that crashed on the shore of the park this morning. I am left with a soundness that settles like thunder rolling out over the mountains. The inspired prospect of unhindered opportunity.