29 July 2005

Happy Birthday, Megan!

Currently home in Madison (well, Fitchburg), enjoying the recently cool temperatures and loverly humidity. Tonight I was driving along one of the many winding country roads between Oregon and Fitchburg, trying to taste my place here as you'd taste a sore spot on your own tongue. Here? Here? Is this where I belong? Is this who I am? I drive along, windows wide open, my head hanging out in the rushing wet air, as if I could sniff the answers in the wind. (The midwest SMELLS so delicious!) The richness of sensory details overwhelms me: the lush greenness, the warm, wet earth, the smells of all things growing in the air, the sound of breezes playing with bristling grasses in fields... at the corner of Fish Hatch and CC, an entire field of wildflowers! What simple beauty. What luxuries we have taken for granted all these years.

And fountains! Water! Lake Michigan, sparkling warm topaz on a cool, sunny day in Milwaukee. Two rivers and a lake? Is it possible to have so much water in one city? Look at all these bridges, bridges and boats everywhere. We even had to wait in the car while a bridge lifted and sank to let a boat full of people pass underneath, bells dinging merrily all the while.

My sister, becoming something of an adult...

I spent about 26 hours with her in Milwaukee, going out for dinner, playing with the dog, driving through the twisted city streets, idly shopping and making fun of ugly shoes. Playing at the big, pretty ship of a museum, perched above the water like a ship skimming the waves. She made me breakfast and I searched through her apartment, marveling at all the evidence of a life lived in my absence: she has dishes, and shirts I've never seen, movies and books, plants that she waters, thoughts that she thinks when she's alone. A whole life, of her own.

And tonight, dinner at Red Robin with Cindy and Memo, who laughed when I stepped into the car wearing a clown nose, and obligingly let me take a picture of him wearing it a minute later. He's six.

Everyone here seems to wait patiently for me to come home, holding some breath until I say I think I'll stay in New Mexico another year or two, at least, and then with a quick, disappointed sigh they say, "I wish you weren't so far away," like I'm breaking their hearts every time.

It's hard.

But this trips says I'm as much of New Mexico as I am of Wisconsin, at least right now, at least right here. Though I miss the bobbing fireflies at dusk in the misty roadside weeds along the fields that I love. The lightning flashing through the saturated sky. The sweet, hazy smell of summer here, here in the green.

No comments: