New York City and 5th Ave, the bars, the laughter, the memories. The dreaming. Seattle, being in love, being a part of something. Getting lost in Chicago and fighting with a taxi driver at 2 in the morning. The trees and lagers of London, the music and the cold dampness of the cobblestone streets. My house, Long Island, standing outside, looking back and hearing all of the white noise in absolute stillness.
Every Christmas, I had my own personal little tradition. I understand it now. When the house was at full capacity, usually around 10pm every Christmas Eve, when the liquor had gone to work and the carbs kick started the engines and the house smelled of espresso and cinnamon pine, when the noise became just a symphony of cheer, straight toned and dissident, when I could see the walls expanding from the love and energy, I would sneak out the front door. There’s an advantage to insignificance. It allows me to move in and out of shadows, allows me to become invisible.
With no jacket, no announcement, I would go outside, walk down the cement turned wooden walkway into the middle of the street and I would take one big breath, smile then turn around…and see it.
It was always magical and I never understood why I did it nor did I ever have a reason to do it, but, I would just stand there, as still as I possible could get my body and my breathe to be. I wouldn’t make a sound, I wouldn’t twitch or itch. The world had froze. Everything was covered in snow, all of the houses on the block were quiet, still; kids were sleeping everywhere in the town, adults were watching movies and drinking eggnog and those who did neither were at my house. From space, I would think, this house would be the only light you could see on earth right now. I would smile and feel proud. Proud that my parents created this, that I was a part of it. But mostly, I would just feel still.
There were 5 windows on the face of my house. The exterior was lit up in a snapshot photo of Christmas, but, inside those windows were action movies that would roll all night. Those windows were my own personal Nickelodeon. There was white noise and I would hear Silent Night or O’ Holy Night being chanted from somewhere within my imagination. What I now understand is I became a Buddha. I didn’t think about what I was happy about, I wasn’t grateful or excited or anticipatory. I had no desire for anyone to be there, to talk to. I wasn’t going to write anything or take photos or even remember it. I was just there, cold breath like a chimney floating from my mouth, muffled joy emanating from those little movie screens, standing on a speck of tar on this pale blue dot.
Back then, I never understood what that meant because it just made sense.
It is believed that in order to experience love, you must be void of it, must lose it. To embrace joy, you must also obtain anger. We create ourselves, and we cannot know one thing without its balanced brother.
I do not know what has become of me, but, I remember things. Every year I would go outside, unnoticed, and look at that house. I know, now, that I was checking into self. That moment represented my travels, my journey, a checkpoint in this pilgrimage my soul is taking in this particular reality of consciousness.
I have not gone outside and looked in years and I believe it is because as I become older, and I have traveled further and further, I am afraid to look back at the abyss that become my memory. When I was young, the road ahead was endless. Now, I am more aware that the distance I have still to travel is slowly becoming as long as the road that I have just walked on. I know that this observation is not an opinion. We are in this reality for a very specific period of time. What is opinion, however, is the concept of just how long that time left actually is. That opinion is what influences us to decide what we make of the life that is left.
El Salvador for New Years, jet-skiing on that pristine lake, Italy burning with joy and community drunkenness, the frozen wood of Pennsylvania, the deer throwing snowballs at each other.
It’s when I remember that there is much more room in this body for more memories, it is when I stand on the outside, in the cold, alone, that I experience what no one else does. It is so pure and it is so beautiful. It is a compassion that I need to take responsibility for.
A talent is able to be lost, but a gift is part of the soul. This unique perspective is my gift.