Yesterday I walked out of class after our workshop with moon shoes strapped to my feet. My peers’ stories were interesting. Deep. They gave us reviewers much to unpack, which may be one of my favorite pastimes. People are, in fact, so interesting. So dynamic. So complex.
Of course, sometimes my moon shoes were mired in moondust…and a foot would stick. Nothing in my mind is so pure, you know. That elation was laced with anxiety, with whispered questions, admonishments, “Did I talk to much? Am I annoying? Do I drive my classmates insane?” I may do/be all of these…the last thing I want to do is be disliked within a program into which I am attempting to make my way – especially do I wish not to be found distasteful to my potential mentor. Whatever…
I wandered, slow, to take things in. The walk from the Collaborative Learning Building to public parking on Harvard St is about a half mile, and I drew it out with long, wide strides. My boot heels struck concrete in a gentle rhythm that reverberated up my legs then through my core like a heartbeat – the base drum line of a lullaby. Such a song begs for recuperative breaths, deep breaths, lungs emptied and replenished. As my lungs slowed, my eyelids drooped, my mind diverted focus to my nose: campus smelled floral, ripe, alive.
Wind whipped my hair up, off my slumped hood, then forward from behind, blinding me. I turned to face it, then wrangled it with my fingers over my left shoulder. It whipped to the side instead of in my line of view, and I could feel wind tentacles snaking from the nape of my neck, along my jawline, over my cheek. It was gentle but persistent – like water, I imagined it wearing upon hard surfaces over time and was glad that I was not a hard surface.
At about this time, as I meandered past the student union, a grain of sand flew into my eye. I squinted and blinked to dislodge it, and as I did so, my cheeks pulled the corners of my mouth open – revealing my teeth. Eye finally clear, I stopped squinting and covered them with my sunglasses, hoping to prevent the incident’s recurrence. Once my mouth closed, I discovered that my teeth were filmed with grit: sand particles. In a wink, I was eight years old, laying on my stomach on a beach towel in Avalon, NJ, propped up on elbows, staring at the peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my hands, wishing I could somehow remove from it the wayward grains of sand. But of course, my hands themselves had still more grains of sand upon them. They were useless. There was no other option: I’d have to eat sand.
As I ran my tongue along my teeth to wash away the grit that ground between them when my jaw clamped shut, the wind picked up and the sky darkened to a rusty brown. This was the color of the sky in Abilene just before a tornado. The neural connection to that memory carried with it a flash of panic: Should I be concerned? Am I casually wandering into a natural disaster? My eyes cut to the open spaces between campus buildings for affirmation that the wind was just at the cusp of dangerous, not beyond, and that other pedestrians (students, instructors) did not look perturbed, per se. Trees, boughs flaunting newly-formed leaf buds, danced frantically, as though they too were scrambling for cover.
On the south concrete corner of the Student Union, a dust devil whipped wind-downed dogwood blossoms into a cyclone over a blank patch of dirt. Its grace captivated me momentarily, but I needed to continue moving – to listen to that little voice that urged me, Back to the car.
Strange, how quickly Mother Nature’s mood shifted yesterday afternoon, isn’t it? From moon shoes to cyclones in the space of five minutes. Super representative of my mental state between yesterday and today…