I’ve come around again to taking more steps in the day — the literal moving-feet kind. I’m impressively sedentary, so I have to intend if I’m not going to stay at rest, and as a biological entity a body at rest dissolves into decay (so I hear). ANYway.
Long after everyone else had ‘gone’ to work, and I’d finished reading He Held Radical Light, I prepared myself for the day and persuaded my inner teenager that I could, indeed, take some intentional steps. [see: it’s not a real walk; no need to dress out; the day’s clothes are fine. see: it’s not a real walk, just down the hill to the tennis courts and back; slow, no sweating involved.]
By 10:30am I stepped out the back door, up the driveway, down the street.
The air was (is) thick with damp: it rained hard again at about 8am, though comparatively briefly.
The feel of the air in my nose, the smell of sodden dirt heating up, the related smell of damp live oaks warming…
I was back in Lake City, FL.
Where my dad grew up; where my father’s parents lived from when my dad was 4 until the week after I married My Sweetie. My Granny and Skipper had multiple houses there, I’m told, but the house they got when my dad was in high school was the house they continuously lived in thereafter. It was my fixed place across my moveable childhood… and yet it’s a quality of air that brings me back, more than the shape of a house or tufts of Spanish moss.
As I crossed the street and headed down the hill, I thought: these embedded memories are things I cannot transfer. Describable, perhaps, but unknowable, making me in certain ways barely imaginable to my children, or anyone else. Who is a person who is pervasively shaped by Florida but has never (well, barely) lived there? Who lives in Texas for more than thirty years and still studies it as if it were foreign: it’s not this; is it that?
The air this morning was Home. Most mornings it’s instead the air where I live.
And all the while I know in my belly that were I to separate (when I am separated?) from this air, and this landscape, I will grieve for it in the ways I still grieve for my Lake City.