New England summers are all about rainstorms. In California, there are no such things as summer storms. I hardly remember any rain beyond spring for my whole childhood, but it’s one of my favorite parts of the weather in New England. On the 4th of July, I climbed up a giant hill at the Arnold Arboretum with one of my best friends and my boyfriend because you can see the fireworks across the city. There is so much nature in Boston, from public parks to hiking trails. It’s one of the best things about living here.
We climbed up a hill that was covered in long yellow grass. A small dirt trail snaked its way up the front and led to a giant lookout. At the top, there was probably 50-100 people relaxing on their blankets, eating snacks and waiting for the fireworks to start down on the harbor. It was one of those nights where you can smell the rain in the air before you actually know that it’s on the way.
I’m starting to think that if you pay attention to new scents, or listen close enough or feel just a little deeper, then this is the way that all change happens. You can feel it in your bones before you even know it’s coming. In an excerpt on the American poet Ruth Stone, the author Elizabeth Gilbert said,
“As stone was growing up in rural Virginia, she would be out, working in the fields and she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. It was like a thunderous train of air and it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And when she felt it coming…cause it would shake the ground under her feet, she knew she had only one thing to do at that point.
That was to, in her words, run like hell to the house as she would be chased by this poem. The whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. Other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she would be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house, and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it, and it would continue on across the landscape looking for ‘another poet’.
And then there were these times, there were moments where she would almost miss it. She is running to the house and is looking for the paper and the poem passes through her. She grabs a pencil just as it’s going through her and she would reach out with her other hand and she would catch it. She would catch the poem by its tail and she would pull it backwards into her body as she was transcribing on the page. In those instances, the poem would come up on the page perfect and intact, but backwards, from the last word to the first.”
Do you ever feel the change in your own life this way, like a barreling beneath your feet? A backwards poem? Sometimes, I’m afraid that if I don’t run fast enough I will miss it. It will pass through me like a poem, a thought or a fleeting memory. Last fall, I can remember catching the tail-end of a feeling of change and bringing it back into my body.
And in that rainstorm, I could feel it again. The rain barreling in from the west, holding more water than I could imagine. At the end of the fireworks show, everyone stayed around to talk with their friends and finish the last bits of food. The second fireworks show was the best though – thunder and lightning booming across the sky. I could feel myself counting the seconds with my fingers, trying to figure out how soon until we would be covered in rain.
And if you’ve ever been caught in a lightning storm, you know that your heart is somewhere stuck between your chest and your throat, somewhere between beating too fast and too slow. This summer in my CPR class, we learned that the heart is powered by an electrical current and how this current, for the most part, moves at a consistent rhythm.
I think that when change is coming for us, we can feel that rhythm dance at a new rate. That night we all got caught up on the hill in a sea of water. Ended up running barefoot across rivers pouring down the road and laughing, drenched all the way through, in the car.
Two months later Kevin and I are all settled into our new home and I’m finally doing what I wanted to do when I was younger, becoming a writer and, as 5 year-old me so astutely put it, a cooker! I’m a month into my new job as an ‘SEO Analyst’ and I still don’t recognize myself in the mirror most mornings, like the rainstorm moved through me and left a whole new person for me to befriend. What dream can you feel in your bones? If you listen close enough, is there something tugging at your heart?
This Strangeness In My Life
It is so hard to see where it is,
but it is there even in the morning
when the miracle of shapes
assemble and become familiar,
but not quite; and the echo
of a voice, now changed,
utterly dissociated, as though
all warmth and shared sweetness
had never been. It is this alien
space, not stark as the moon,
but lush and almost identical
to the space that was. But it is not.
It is another place and you are not
what you were but as though emerging
from the air, you slowly show yourself
as someone else, not ever remembered.