Missouri teeters on the edge of spring and summer, a changeling thing. It happens swiftly, as if underfoot, almost without my noticing.
The world is lush and green, for now, but I know that summer’s heat will bring inevitable drought that turns the fields gold and bleeds the sky of its depth. I try not to let the changing of seasons make me sad but it always gets to me in the end, even if what follows is more pleasant. Change is hard to face but easier to bear. In the meantime, I try to soak it up, all this rich color, the textures and shades.
It’s easier to sit in this mindset because my days are not so busy right now. Jon left for his Mexico race and has been gone for nearly a week, and will be gone nearly another.
In the moment, when I took that photo above, the moment was light and filled with the freedom of leaving. My dad once said this to Jon, and Jon repeats it all the time: “The best part of leaving is leaving.” But looking at it now, there’s a soft tenderness, the poignancy of another moment passed. I see so clearly the best of Jon radiating from it, right down to his worn work boots — the sort of observances you only store when you love someone.
Since he’s been gone, I get a lot more reading done. Stormed through The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which is indeed wondrous. I bought a book of Sharon Olds poems called Stag’s Leap and this line keeps coming back to me:
“When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up. Even when it’s I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver.”
When Jon and I are apart, we revert back to who we were before we lived together, people who find little to say over the phone that extends beyond daily reports and shallow jokes. I don’t mind, but I miss the physicality of his company and no phone call could replace that. The nearness of someone beloved is such a comfort. But we write letters. In the nearly two years we’ve been together, more than 300 letters have passed between us, near enough for every other day of both years.
From a recent letter I wrote:
Without you to set my clock, I go to bed early and rise early, too, and I rarely was ever like that in life before you. It’s pleasant. This morning I watched the sun come up, lavender in the haze, so soft it didn’t seem real.
It’s always strange how quiet and still the house is when you’re away: no Fox news, no UFC, no auto auctions, I use less eggs, I never run the dishwasher. There’s a depression in your chair where your body belongs.
It’s starting getting lonely here in this hangar. The novelty of having the house to myself wears off quickly. My toothbrush looks sad without yours beside it and, though I thought I’d like the bed to myself, I still move toward the place you’re supposed to be, even in my sleep.
Do you miss me?
This time last year, it seemed violent storms passed over me daily, but I was so buoyed by the excitement of shift and change in my life that it only amplified the sense of great things coming. This year, the storms are more tender, so lovely. A few nights ago, I stepped out of my car and gasped. The sky was full of anvils, some once-in-a-lifetime scene scaled by the hand of God. I thought about taking a photograph but resisted. I wanted it for only myself.
Yesterday I was in the garden and could hear the rain coming, an army of bullets shooting down into the trees. The warning cry gave me enough time to gather my things and sit it out in the safety of my car. And as quickly as the darkness swept over me, it moved on.
Some metaphor, too easy.