I hesitate to share this on a public forum, as it is part of a longer piece I am working on. But I think there’s power, too, in sharing the in-the-works stream of consciousness and messy drafts of writing we’re scared to share from projects we may never complete (if we stay afraid). Although this has no context in this forum, perhaps it needs none.
It took me until I was 21 to realize that people could imagine songs the way I imagined words. Then, the world made sense. People drew sheet music the same way I wrote poems on the inside of my skull, so my eyes would read it over and over again while I slept. People wrote plans for railway tracks, grilled filet mignon in hot kitchens, and distilled gin in wide brewery rooms, and they did these things because they dreamed them. Everyone dreamed in something. They dreamed in music, in restaurant dishes, in fine liquor, in heaven, in dance. Then, they bled their words and music and engineering into the pulsing hearts of cities and towns. They made books and filled symphony halls with crescendos and built the sturdy heights of warm walls. The world was nothing but our combined fantasy. It existed, and we did. So the world made sense: we all were here for something.
As I realized the colors of stranger’s dreams, my heart realized a strange communion. I loved the hurried, muddled masses of this brash and helpless city, the bold and outstretched hands and hallowed hearts, the daily intimacies and whistled words. I loved the push and brush of people against my shoulders in crowded hallways and tight subway cars, the chirp of hellos, and flying fury of curses, trash, and mud. I loved the tall security man who stood outside the Park Avenue hotel with his soft rolls of skin and his quiet voice. I loved the boy who sat at the same bus stop every morning with whiskers of starlight in his eyes. And I began to carry the people I loved with me. I carried their tired goodnights, and I carried their praise. I walked home past their kindness with my heels echoing in the empty width of the evening sidewalk. I saluted them with breath-raising cloudy hellos along the morning where they stood with gloved hands and cupped coffee.
The boy at the bus stop still had the night stars in his “good morning,” and when I looked at the stars in his daytime eyes, I realized another dream was to stand outside a cabin in Montana and sing about living things in the wild, open hills and to hold fast to the edges of curling bouquets and to harbor the rain when the leaves changed in the fall. Another was to hang the summer in the rafters, to record the smell of the winter, to be a mountain playing seven foghorns in one breath (the mountain could do this, I knew, because a singer in the Catskills said it could, and I believed him when he made voice memos in the night and captured the foghorn cries in the shadows of the forests). The mountain was out there, and I would learn to play the foghorns, one at a time, until I could play them all at once, and the forest would grow around me, as I breathed. I did not want to start over. I wanted to be the mountain because it never could. Its chance at redemption was packed in the hard soil and ice rock from which it carved one lung with which it would later play the foghorns in the dark.
The mountain stayed in the shifting weather; it stayed in the wind; it bore the insanity of not moving. It loved nothing more than the rivers that carved its holy body from its peak to its valley. It bore no one more dutifully than the roots of trees that pierced the earth and asked the mountain, “Give me, give me, give me life,” and it did. And the air flooded to meet the arms of those trees that rose and stretched with every dawn, and the mountain prayed to be made of cliffs and riverbeds, and the wind worried its mother’s hands through seedling stems and sapling spines.
As the wind worried its way through the mountains I dreamed about, I looked into the night stars in the bus stop boy’s daytime eyes, and I realized. The wind kisses everyone it meets. And there is nothing more heroic than loving as fully as the wind.