Sunday, March 20, 2011

Smallness


“What is the feeling when you're driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it's the too huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”       ~ Jack Kerouac, On the Road

* * * * *

Enchanted places… Do we find them? Or do they find us? Does serendipity act while we are most oblivious?

My husband likes to ride his bike on the country roads around our home. And he comes back with his eyes filled with the rolling hills, the thick wild oak trees, the open sky. And when I see his eyes, and when I hear him talk, I sometimes fear for him. Because the mind always asks. And the heart always doubts. And the spirit… well, it does fear. So, every time he gets ready to take to the road, I curl a little into myself. And as he’s leaving I go through the checklist: phone, sports drink, helmet, money, I.D., and When you get to the intersection, will you turn left or right?

And so, one Sunday morning, quite some time ago, shortly after we moved here, my husband took his road bike and went out cycling. I’m going down to the intersection and turning right, he said. And that was that. Except, about an hour and a half after he left he called:

What happened?
I had a flat. Can you come get me?
Where are you?
About 20 miles from the intersection, going north.
20 miles!?!
Yes, just make that right and stay on the main road, and when the road forks, turn right again.
Okay. I’ll be there as soon as I can.
I’m in a pebbled area on the side of the road. You can’t miss me.
I’ll be right there.

And I grabbed my car keys and flew.

Down to the next county. Down to the intersection. Sharp right. There, I saw signs for the river I had always known to exist but had never seen. And further down, to my left… the river. To my right… open country. In between… the occasional cactus. The occasional house surrounded by ground and sky. Complete and utter barrenness. Complete and utter…

Nothingness.

Beauty. Sublimity. Surrounding me.

I was alone. With water. With trees. With dirt. With sky. With nothing. With no one.

And the place… took me.

I wanted to stay. To see. To explore. But my husband was waiting for me several miles away. In a pebbled area. Out in the middle of another nowhere. Or the rest of this one. With a flat tire and a conspicuously red jersey and some really tired legs. So I kept driving.

And this very same situation repeated itself at least five or six times. And every time I drove by that place on my way to save my husband from another flat tire situation, I told myself I had to come back. To this road. To this place. Hidden… but wanting to be found.

And so today, because it is the last day of my spring break, and because it is the first day of spring (and on the first day of spring I like to be with life), I drove down that deserted country road. Over the hills and through the wild oak trees. On my way to nowhere. Because I wanted to stay… and see. And when I saw cows lazing under the burning sun, under the open sky, by the river… by the nothingness… the unbeingness of it all, I parked my car on the side of the road and got out. I wanted… I don’t know what I wanted. But I found myself watching the cows. And they watched me back with interest… and curiosity. As if they wanted to tell me something. And we just kind of watched each other for a while. And I felt the smallness of me. And it felt so good to be small in this vastness. It felt… humbling. And I heard in the background the silence that trickled from between the crisp and subtle laughter of the river. And I heard inside that silence the voice inside my head. That other voice that sometimes speaks, though uninvited.

There, in that enchanted place, the other voice told me things. About him. About her. About me. About you. About us. About love. About life. Things I never thought to think. Things that are told only in dreams.

The voice spoke. And I replied.

And Beethoven accompanied us from my car stereo.

But, after a while, I realized I couldn’t stay forever because… forever peels the magic away. So I waved goodbye. But I promised to be back.

And one day, when I leave here, the one thing I will take with me is that enchanted place down by the river. That road. CR 761 or CR 438 or whatever CR number it is… one county over. The road with a name unknown to me. The place that has taken me. The road. The place. Narrow and winding and uneven and going nowhere. Or somewhere. Does it matter?

Sometimes we have to stop trying to get to certain places and allow our spirits to find the places that truly enchant them. Or allow those places to find us.

I’ve got that country road tattooed beneath my skin and humming between my arms. I’ve got it droning inside the empty spaces between my ribs. I’ve got it in my hair and in my eyes and under my tongue. And that country road has my breath splattered all over it. It has one stray hair that detached itself from my head embedded in its cracks. Dead hair. Loose threads. Empty bottles. Rusty cars. Abandoned houses. Things once precious and dear and gleaming with life… now lost and forgotten… and alone. And things still alive: blue sky and wild oak and dry cactus and golden dandelion and flowing water. Flowing. Like the blood inside my veins.

We are places. And they are us. We are their vastness. And they are our smallness.

My gasps of bliss are ever emblazoned upon the air that rises above that place and tents it like a silent but turbulent and ravenous storm.



34 comments:

  1. I come at the seventh minute!
    I'm going to read your poem right now;o)

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  2. the places that take us....your words transported me to that spot, I was there, the road, river, sky and cows...beautiful. Thank you for allowing me to come along my friend.

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  3. Will have to come and read it again with the music playing;o)
    Je veux me promener encore avec toi au son de Beethoven;o)

    ***
    Gros BISOUS et à tout vite****

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  4. Breathtaking. I've felt this way about some of the places I've visited and lived in. That they consumed me and I consumed them. The final Beethoven accompaniment was the loveliest bit.

    Jai

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  5. J'ai lu à nouveau en écoutant la musique et c'était très émouvant.
    Il y a des moments comme ça, où le contact avec la nature est pure magie.
    J'ai juste une petite question. As-tu retouché ton texte? Parce qu'il me semble qu'il manque quelque chose, ou alors j'ai rêvé un détail que je ne retrouve plus. Peu importe, j'ai autant apprécié la balade que la première fois;o)
    Merci beaucoup, mon amie, pour ce moment ravissant. L'endroit ne pouvait qu'être DOUBLEMENT magique puisque c'est la route CR 761 qui nous y amène;o)

    ***
    Gros BISOUS et belle semaine pleine d'amour et de joie****

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  6. Nevine you captured perfectly how I've felt about a few places. The places that got under my skin, that I take myself to from time to time in my mind to refresh my spirit. I feel my life is perfect now that I have such a place within a 5 min walk of my home. I think I'll hear your music next time I'm there.

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  7. And I will come back to this poem, time and again, and find the sky and the aroma always anew

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  8. I could come back again and again to this piece. Each time would connect me to different aspects, I have hitherto not ventured into. How I enjoyed reading this, dear Nevine. How perfectly you express yours, mine and our collective experience.
    There were so many phrases that absolutely had me bowled over. You inspire me to probe into words, have a fling with words and finally make love in words.
    Nevine, this piece delighted me to bits.

    Joy always,
    Susan

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  9. This is so beautifully worded!

    Enchanting! You got me hooked!!
    It's amazing how we are connected to places we stayed; bounded forever, still..."I realized I couldn't stay forever, because peels the magic..." so true Nevine!
    This magical piece brings out the emotion in me.
    Beethoven music...a perfect match for your inspirational words!

    Have a great week ahead, my dearest!

    Love and hugs!

    B xx

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  10. Some places are enchanting and so true that we must not forever stay there, that takes away the magic. Glad you found one place, and being away from home I realize what I did not notice I had there, peace. It is heaven. :)

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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  11. Oh, Nevine, you have sprinkled so many exquisite perceptions throughout this beautiful and captivating story! I concur that this is one to read and re-read.

    Thank you for taking me back to a place of "empty bottles ... rusty cars ... abandoned houses" that I once roamed regularly but now can visit only rarely.

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  12. Cremilde - Sometimes I feel like we're having conversations when you stop in and visit like this... peek-a-boo! Now I'm here... now I'm not... but I'm back. It's so precious! Mais non, j'ai rien change... maybe il y avait une magie la premiere fois that just pouf! went away!!! ;-) So glad to have had you along for the journey, ma belle.

    David - You are always welcome to come along and journey with me. Excellent company, I say! ;-)

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  13. Jai - I thought I was the only one who got taken by places... but I guess not. Sometimes places are just magical like that, aren't they? And isn't that the most exquisite music? I always have some Beethoven in my car... for sanity... and insanity! ;-)

    Pauline - You are lucky to be living so close to your magical place. Mine is a bit further than a mere five minutes. Still, it's nice to know it's there now. And just to think that it was always there and I didn't go to find it. Oh well, it found me, I guess! :-)

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  14. Adriana - Come back as often as you wish, my dear. This place will always be here for any who wish to find some of the magic inside it. I love sharing the magic. What would life be without sharing... without magic? :-)

    Susan - I'm so glad you enjoyed it. You know, it was the overwhelming feeling I returned home with that prompted me to write about it. And after I was done writing, I thought, 'Well, why not share it?' It seemed a fun moment to share with others who might have been touched with magical places. I know you have been touched by places, too! ;-) Joy back, dear Susan!

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  15. Betty - Thank you for the enthusiasm, and I'm happy you enjoyed both the words and the music. I wanted to share that special moment because it seemed greedy for me to have experienced it all alone. When we share these types of experiences, it seems others live them a bit through us, vicariously. I know you share your magical moments all the time, and when I visit, I am always delighted to be in that place with you for those few moments... feeling what you felt. Love and hugs back, dearest! :-)

    Blasphemous Aesthete - Yes, I know what you mean about having peace when you are away from home. Though I miss my home terribly, and everyday, I can't deny the peace that I enjoy.

    ConTemplate - Happy to have brought back some delightful memories. You know, I was so gripped by the beauty and serenity of the place... I couldn't help but notice everything. It was like I was having an epiphany of sorts. Wow, when that happens! It's truly priceless!!!

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  16. DEAR ALL - Please excuse my absence these days. Spring break is over and I'm back at my schoolwork with a vengeance! Life calls... :-)

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  17. To the student and TEACHER of life, all the required support!!!

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  18. And you know that part of you will never leave that place.

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  19. Your story is so funny....but i'm glad your husband's flat tires made you stumble by the slopes of heaven!
    warm hugs!

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  20. Hello again, ma belle;o)
    You are so sweet. And you are who you are because you just are! And I like the way you are;o)
    Je venais voir si tu étais bien en train de travailler pour tes études! Je crois que oui, et c'est très bien;o) Bon courage à toi, mon amie. Et merci tout plein pour le plaisir de ta visite chez moi;o)


    ***
    Gros BISOUS et à tout bientôt****

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  21. I have read this post several time in the last few days. I still (and always) feel like I am not qualified to comment on your stuff - and the stuff I REALLY want to comment on is closed to me - comments are turned off on the other place. But even then, if I COULD comment - were I allowed to comment - what would I say? Your writing is so clean and pure - it's almost a sacrilege to touch it with critique.

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  22. That is exactly why country roads are my favorites. Nobody gets rid of anything, they just leave it in the field, or yard, or barn, to rust away. I see the old houses and barns and I fill up with questions.
    Great post Nevine...

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  23. Coucou ma belle!

    J'ai reçu du blog "O falção de Jade" la récompense "Kreative Blogger" et une des règles c'est de le passer à 10 blogs que je considère comme "créatifs".
    Je te serais reconnaissante de bien vouloir l'accepter et d'aller le chercher ici: "Les pieds dans l'eau...la tête dans les étoiles"


    ***
    Big BISOUS et BELLE semaine****

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  24. He he he!
    Je viens de retourner sur mon blog et j'ai eu le plaisir d'y trouver ton petit mot;o)
    Merci mille fois, mon amie;o)
    J'espère que tu réussis à trouver le temps de faire tout ce que tu comptais faire, et je te souhaite du plus profond de mon cœur de réussir tout ce que tu as entrepris;o)

    ***
    Gros BISOUS encore et encore et à tout bientôt****

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  25. N E V I N E !!!!!! That Beethoven mostest BEAUTIFUL of piano concertos, the EMPEROR. Oh, I can sing the whole three movements right now from my head--in tune, and whatever tempo I choose...the piano and orchestra parts, all!

    And that might be my 'place' of which you speak of your own. Mine might be right in the center of a symphony orchestra. That is where so many hundreds of times I spent my most sublime moments--hours.

    GOD! You write GoooD!

    Thank you for YOUR memories--and mine!

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  26. Absolutely love this piece Nevine... roads like that, if they beckon to one, one should always go exploring. I've never, ever been disappointed when following one of those whispers that says, go back, turn off, park the car, walk, just go a bit further to see around the next bend. Dream houses, dream cars are out there, waiting for some curious soul to wander by, following their heart...

    Keep wandering Nevine, and writing of it all... writing with that beautiful voice of yours.

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  27. Adriana - Thank you. You are always supportive... always always!

    Jason - Never! And it will never leave me, either.

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  28. COL - Life is filled with surprises... some of which are too pleasant for words. But here, words came to the rescue of my reeling spirit. Thank you, COL! Warm hugs back.

    Cremilde - He he he... you really make me laugh. I love your childlike spontaneity. It makes me feel like we are kindred spirits. W are adults, yes. But we have that secret child inside of us... that secret child that's filled with mischief... and delight! Bisous, ma belle!!!

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  29. Lou - Thank you for the thoughtful words. And I am sorry you feel like you are not "allowed" to comment in "the naked light". It's not a matter of permissions. I'm not even really sure what it's a matter of... to be quite honest. It's just a matter, if you know what I mean. But thank you so much for reading. And you may touch my writing with critique whenever you please... :-)

    Pat - Thanks, Pat. You're so absolutely right about old places. The spirits of the memories filling the objects are just flying free...

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  30. Steve - It is the most beautiful piano concerto, isn't it? One of the loveliest pieces of music of all time, in fact! And I'm so pleased you related to this post in your own way. We all have our own special place(s), don't we? :-)

    Owen - Yes, I know how you like to wander. And the gift I get from that is to see the wandering photographs... and to dream a bit of those wandering places. So, every once in a while, I wander too. And I find myself in love with someplace new. It's amazing, isn't it? Thanks for tagging along for the ride, Owen!

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  31. wow, amazing piece. it's beautiful when travel reminds us of the spirits that flow between body and place. freedom behind the wheel of a car.

    to escape these cities...

    recently i was walking down a highway in the lowland jungle, muggy and hot and the occasional truck sailing by, and was struck by what some cows seemed to say to me from a pasture. those eyes, and the way they stand idly...

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  32. The way you explained it, I almost drove through the place a couple of times, each time discovering something new.
    Nature is all around us, but we seldom notice it.

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  33. This is such a beautiful post, Nevine. I could see it playing in my mind's eye. I was right there on that country road.

    www.angiemuresan.com

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  34. This is beautiful. I know this feeling that you speak of here...that feeling of wanting to be apart of...wanting to connect with the beauty that surrounds. I "discovered" a place like that a couple of years ago. Great Falls, Va. It's a water fall on the Potomac River and its a magical place. I would go there to take it all in and I always felt so relived, so rejuvenated, and so much closer to myself when visit Great Falls. It's a wonderful state of being.

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Your thoughts are deeply appreciated.