Who are you and where are you, and who is with you when you are most yourself? I asked myself that question some time ago, and the answer emerged in scenes and memories:
-I am sitting in Summit train station waiting for the New York train. There is an old black man sitting across from me with his eyes closed, holding a portable radio and singing along to the static-y lyrics in perfect fluid cadence. He knows this song through and through; his whole being is singing it. I watch him and fall in love with him, and fall in love with whatever it is inside me that allows me–in certain moments–to embrace my own freedom and passion with equal abandon.
-I follow Lizzy to the porch roof and we sit there in the cold, both steeped in our own musings, occasionally bringing our thought-worlds together with small comments. My mind is full of questions, but mostly I’m caught up in the cold still night air, and this colossus of love I have for my sister.
-In the last leg of a long run, I round a bend and fly over the final hill. My arms spread out with a buoyancy beyond my control. I am listening to a podcast describing a Norwegian snow hiker coming upon his last cache of hidden treasure. I am mesmerized by the sound of his joy, and giggle with delight in his vitality and mine.
-Cedric and I have taken a meandering motorbike ride up precipitous mountain roads during a November visit to Lebanon. We move over terrains that change in color and vegetation and I am overwhelmed by the beauty of it. The temperatures drop as we ascend, and clouds begin to group above us. We arrive to our destination as the skies open with a rumble, and we can barely feel the icy drops across our numb faces. I am shaking with cold and my whole body aches with it. We have no choice but to ride back down, parting the damp chill with our descent. I am moaning with cold, and we begin to sing to distract ourselves. We go through entire musicals, we belt the words of songs we know and improvise where our memory falls short. We are screaming our songs and laughing and oblivious to anyone we pass. I am miserably cold and think that there is no way I could feel happier.
-I sleep on the couch one Christmas Eve and somewhere between the night and early morning I wake up. The living room is warm and softly lit with the glow of the tree. Soon the younger siblings will wake up and we will cram into this room, pajama-clad and joking together. For now it is still quiet, and lines from a song are echoing in my mind. “How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given.” I wonder how I can contain the fullness inside me. I reach for my journal while laying there, and write from the spillover of rare peace.
I can list an infinity of these moments, Apples, and it is good to recall that. This existence contains many things, but so long as I can tap into such an infinity, the rest is light enough to bear.