Friday, September 19, 2014

We are having adventures. They're not what we expected, some months ago, imagining our way into a voyage south, thinking of nutmegs in Grenada and rain rushing in torrents down steep little roads. (It’s funny the scraps of things people say that stay with you and make a picture in your mind that takes on weight.) It’s not the cafes of Cartagena. That life passed us by inches, leaving a shudder in the air.
     For now our adventures are of a different kind.
     We bought a 1999 Nissan Altima, cheap, that needs the transmission rebuilt, the first car we’ve had in eight years. I’m grading papers again—thinking aloud in front of the class is fun—a little high-wire act I can usually pull off.
     Sometimes I feel these cold pendulous drops of sadness, like a sudden rain has come up, and then wind. Bowled over by a fierce longing for my past life, which feels sealed off, an artifact. Wondering why I didn’t enjoy it more, savor it more, now that it’s rolling away from me. Now that I know everything was going to turn out OK.
     From the window of the safari I see “The Lord Is Risen He Is Risen Indeed” written on either side of the entrance to the cemetery. Beyond it are two rows of low white tombs, oriented side to, going up a hill in the scrubby low grass. The rising of the graves looks like no accident. Like they’re going towards the lord—but the journey’s truncated abruptly. Death is just death, with no other meaning.
     Pale-skinned people start to look like snails without shells, worms after the rain. Vulnerable, ill-suited to the climate—even after centuries, still here by mistake.
     “I kind of wish we were still traveling,” I say to Adam. “I don’t,” he replies. “Really?” I marvel. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard him say that. If his loose-limbed wandering has been quelled for the moment, I guess we really must be here for a reason.
     The weekend—my birthday, a stack of papers. Celebrating this year with the realization that what I’d thought of as my personality was just habit. Not understanding that inspiration comes in those leisurely, unscripted moments I’d felt guilty about, thinking always about the things I might never accomplish.

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