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Clearer Focus

summer queen It’s cool and cloudy, which is not at all like August in this part of the world. The weather report says not to worry, we’ll be expiring of heat soon enough, but I can’t help but wonder at the intense shifts the weather takes.

Oh, I don’t have to wonder. It’s climate change, after all.

I woke up this morning with Ellen Foster in my head. It seems I’ll have to read it again, after finishing Volume I of Shelby Foote’s magisterial work on the Civil War. I remember coming across it when I was much younger and working in a used bookstore, and being absolutely blown away by the pitch-perfect voice. Since then, I’ve only read it every decade or so. It seems it’s time again.

Apparently reading means one will live longer. I might end up immortal, and truth be told, I’d need to be in order to get through my TBR pile.

My dreams have grown intense of late, but not the kind of intensity that dredges books from my subconscious. Instead, it’s the highly saturated, emotionally complicated dreams that tell me I’m processing things. History. Old hurts, new knowledge. I came across a poem earlier this morning about life trading calm and truth for one’s youth, and thought, yes, that is how it is. I am glad to not be young anymore.

For me, each passing year takes me further from helpless childhood, the plaything of rageaholics. I have my own car keys, my own bank account, my own home. I can set a book on my kitchen counter and it won’t be torn up or thrown away. When I shut my door, anyone who comes by may knock for admittance, but it’s up to me whether or not I grant it. My children have no idea what it’s like to be barged in on even when one’s door is locked–just recently, the Princess told me about one of her classmates who has no privacy even in her bedroom, and remarked how she can’t imagine such a horrible boundary trespass.

It felt good to hear that, indeed.

Sometimes, I’ll lay an item down somewhere temporarily, and my heart will still pound and my breath catch with the instinctive calculation of how likely it is I’ll lose it to someone’s random fury. It takes a moment, looking at the object and breathing deeply, to remind myself I am no longer at the mercy of anyone who would do such a thing. I’ve grown comfortable with my life, and found a measure of peace. So my dreams are turning over all these things, fitting them together in a life experience grown much more capacious.

When you’re young, there’s no sense of proportion. Things feel huge because you have nothing to compare them to. Acquiring a bit of brute experience quickly resolves the picture into clearer focus.

I don’t dislike the dreams. They’re intense, but not nightmares. I’m even glad of them, I can feel the scar tissue becoming deeper, tougher, supple instead of delicate.

So I dream, and I write, and when I lay an object down in my own house, sometimes I leave it there for longer than it needs to be.

Just because.