Thursday, March 27, 2008

a rainy day

March 27th, 2008

7:46 am

Raindrops and birdsong. Puddles and mud. Smells like spring out there. Reminds me of early mornings on The Ridge. Waiting for the school bus. That ball of dread and worry building up in my gut. Bus 87B, driven by bony old Gerry Wyman, thundering up the hill on Irwin Road. Headlights beaming through fog, glancing off wet power lines. The hulking metal mass cresting the hilltop and rolling down. Toward us. The three Stevens boys. At the end of the driveway. Waiting like little soldiers.

It was an awful feeling getting ready for and riding to school. A general lack of confidence, a sense of never belonging, and always that worry percolating in my gut.

Probably something every kid experienced. So I suppose that’s nothing new. But what got me thinking about school and being a kid and waiting for that bus was the sound of the birds this morning. Me, a thirty-four year old man, walking dogs around to the backyard for their morning ritual of running and shitting and pissing. Feeling that rain. Spring. Hearing sparrows, robins, blackbirds. Seeing them dart from limb to limb. Rest on power lines. Bob through the grass in neighboring yards.

Reminded me of home. On The Ridge. Dreading another day of social awkwardness and forced learning, wishing I could just stay there. At the end of the driveway. Watching and listening to our world. The mass of blackbirds across the road. Swooping round in waves. Perching on the broken-down barn. Wild rosebushes growing near the culverts in the ditch. Heads sagging. Petals dripping. The rain giving new color and texture to roadside gravel and stones. Blades of grass greening before my very eyes. Me, just a boy in the world, but knowing that smack-dab-in-the-middle of the season—of all seasons—is where I belonged. My body and mind, my senses, rooted firmly in the natural elements of the world.

It is something I’ve carried with me throughout my life. Growing up in the country. On The Ridge. Those rainy spring mornings. Hot and buggy summer days. The burnt orange autumn evenings. And the snow-white wintry days. A simple, natural way of life. Where it was obvious to see how things worked and came to be. If a person would only stop, breathe deep, and pay attention.

I’m miles away from that now. Life in the city. Metal and glass. Neon and concrete. Whole messes of people, swooping round in waves. Exit ramps, overpasses, six lane highways. Blazing along at an incredible pace. Stereos booming. Horns honking. A grand parade of social awkwardness and posturing fed by worry that has been building in the gut. Weighing us down. Making us afraid to stop and perch. Ever since we were kids.

I don’t know that there’s a remedy. I suppose it’s something we’ll always have with us. That ache for home. To return to the place we’re from. To sense there’s something more in simplicity. To know that when we strip away the layers, dig deep enough to eliminate all but necessity, we are all young at heart. New to this world. Wanting only the chance to stand in the middle of the season, drink it all up, and feel that we belong.

~ K.J.

(copyright © 2008 by k.j. stevens)

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