Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I have entered yet another new world: one in which all doors open to me. I'm not quite sure how this happened. Like all the most important turns of my life, I didn't know I was making it. I only glimpse it in the rearview mirror, disappearing, and I know suddenly I'm in a new country.

I've wandered a long way from Springfield. With a pang I remember a ring, set with cheap blue glass, scrabbled from the dust by the reservoir. You had to climb a chain link fence to get in, but the barb-wiring at the top was perfunctory, and you had all the time in the world to get over it: nobody ever checked on it. And then you could climb the steel ladder of the water tower, and look out over the northward slopes to yet other hidden worlds.

Just one of many empty places I cat-burglared my way into. Of course, I wanted to be able to go into inhabited places: but they were all closed to me, I knew that. So I found my way into deserted barns, fenced reservoirs. Some other kids' abandoned treehouse, with their moldering stash of girly magazines. I was as wary of human beings as a fox, and likewise as cocky: there weren't many places I couldn't get into. It takes only patience, and a gift for silence. I had both.

It would have taken only slight twist of destiny, at one point, to have set me on a life of burglary. I had all the skills and I would have enjoyed the challenge, the combination of patient research and sudden risk, the pleasure of entering places supposed to be private and protected. I loved to climb, to hide, and to observe. I knew just how invisible a still person is, how the direction of the light shows you up or conceals you. I knew how deeply habit-ridden most people are. They do the same things over and over, and their attention is predictable. It would have taken only a slight twist some other direction to have made me a hunter. Or maybe not. I've always hated hurting things. I don't think I could happily have despoiled people of their property either. Maybe not such slight twists. Maybe destiny wears heavier shoes than that.

But anyway -- my point is that now, suddenly, I am an insider, trusted with keys and secrets, with more invitations proffered me than I could possibly accept. I'm nonplussed. I never thought I could be a person on the inside and I don't quite know how to hold it.

The day promises fair. I'm flooded with tenderness, with a yen to make offerings at untended shrines. The sun is climbing up the eastern roads. I don't know who I am anymore, which I have to think is a good thing. Yesterday I looked at all the glittering suns bobbing in the dimpled river, worked out why they appeared in an elongated oval instead of in a circle. It's simple geometry. Pythagoras would have grasped it at once.

You recover from a swerve, having nearly tumbled from your bike, you glide easily along: you look the same as before, just as insouciant, but the adrenalin is coursing through your veins. You know, for a moment, just how precarious it all is. The sun is not quite as solid in the sky as you thought.

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