Note No. 27
December 9, 2009
I watched the sunrise this morning.
I watched the sun rise over the sea and I stared at the waves as they curled down, one after the over, and I wondered how to describe that motion. The water rises up, before it bends over onto itself and the frantic, galloping froth speeds over the surface, not unlike what I imagine a herd of wildebeests looks like as it crests a hillside and plunges down, a plume of smoke rising to encompass the whole pack and make it one, long undulating mass that moves in time, no single element separate from the entire being.
That is probably as close I can get to illustrating the movement of the rollers. I find it nearly impossible to explain it as its own thing, without drawing comparisons and personifying it. It’s constant, though, and it’s addictive. A person could sit all day gazing at it.
The sea has been here the entire time, these nearly two years that I have been here. Every night, I’ve gone to bed with it just over the rooftops outside my room and every morning, I have awoken to hear that it is still there, climbing and crashing and crawling back out again. I haven’t really paid attention to it, though. I’ve looked at it and admired it, sailed across it, even gotten in it every once in awhile but I have not worshipped it, as some tend to do.
When I first came here, though, when I first visited in November of 2008, I slept in a room with a balcony just over it and I fell asleep every night listening to its roar and I woke up every morning to watch the sun ascend over its horizon, a cup of coffee in my hand and my future in my head.
That’s when I decided to move here.
Instinctively, I knew that just as much as my sister and her husband needed to know that their own flesh and blood was down here taking care of their investment, I also needed to come down here for myself, because just as the sea wears a jagged fragment of colorless beer bottle into a polished piece of turquoise glass, it takes the rough edges off a person, sanding them down so that they’re smooth— not perfect but easier to touch.
The amount of time that one needs for this to happen can vary, because it depends on whether the person lets it happen it or not. You do have to let it happen. For some, a week is enough. For others, it could take 10 or 20 years— or maybe forever. Some people never leave. Maybe they’re afraid the snags will grow back.
I know my time here is drawing nigh, though. My family jokes that wherever I go, I am on a two-year plan, yet it seems it’s more true than jest, because about two or three months ago, I already started to feel the 730-day expiration date getting closer. A month from yesterday and it’s already here.
That is not to say I will be gone on the mark. No, I will carry out high season and then work with my family to make sure that no one is left in the lurch. It’s time, though. I can feel in every bone and every hair of my body.
I like metaphors. I try to think of them for as many scenarios as I can, because they help me understand the bigger picture. In that regard, being on the island has been something like a Cake Walk. (Irony is, it has been far from a piece of cake.) I think this is a Southern U.S. tradition, so let me explain: a group of participants forms a circle inside a bigger circle of chairs, in which there is always one less chair than the number of people. Someone is in charge of starting and stopping a song, and when the song starts, the people walk around in a single file, around and around and around until the room goes quiet and everyone rushes to find a seat, always leaving one person standing with nowhere to sit. That person is out the game and it begins again, until one seat is left and the last of two people finds that seat, making him or her the winner. Then he or she gets to pick an entire cake off of the table of confections and another game begins with another round of people, until there are no more cakes left to choose. I don’t remember ever winning a cake but I always loved to play.
After two years in Barcelona, I think the music suddenly stopped and when I looked around, there were no more chairs to sit in, so I had to stand out the rest of the game on this island, all the while waiting for someone else to be the last one sitting, earning the chance to choose a pie from the line-up of Red Velvets and Mississippi Muds. I think that game is nearing its end, though, and I plan to be in the next one, because goddammit if I am not the last one sitting this time. I believe that there are definitely times that you can have your cake and eat it, too— just make sure you share the other seven pieces with those around you.
When I first got to Spain in late 2005, I saw a deformed stump of a body sitting on a blanket on the sidewalk, receiving change. His graceful posture and luminescent eyes inspired me to give him a 2-euro piece and as I did so, he handed me a shiny, green stone and said the word esperanza. Hope. It was one of the first Spanish words I learned.
This morning after the sunrise, as I was in the middle of dancing around my kitchen, something I do when I am not in the mood to walk for exercise, I suddenly panicked, because I realized I had not seen the stone in a long while. I ran to my change purse and zipped it open, pawing past the peso pieces until I saw it, sitting in its place of the last four years, and I sighed the deep breath of relief that I had been holding.
I still have it. I had just forgotten it was there.