The trick with big concepts in your writing is that they lay flat on the page if you go at the them intellectually. But if you talk about them in terms of something specific like an object, the concept comes alive.
Here is my effort this week:
Longing-In terms of a barometer…
I still want it. I can see it on the wall by the front door. I should have taken it. I should have tucked it into my suitcase as I left the house for the last time. But, really, why take a barometer to Texas when it had lived its whole life at the beach? Would its delicate calibrations to the air pressure by the ocean cease to work in city with a only a river running through it?
Part of me wonders if the barometer ever really worked. I’d come downstair every morning for breakfast and tap tap tap the face of it. Most always the needle moved. Down meant a low pressure system, a storm was in the offing. Up meant clear weather. If it didn’t move much at all, that meant whatever weather we were having would continue. That was the extent of my weather forecasting ability. Really. You’d think the way I tap tap tapped that barometer I might have wanted to go to meterological school. After all, weather predicting was a favorite past time in my family. My father loved to comment about the wind shifts and colors of sunsets. My mother believed that everything was better on a bright sunny day. Why wouldn’t I want to go into the business of predicting my family’s humor and fate? I suppose I didn’t because knowledge kills the mystery and I love the mystery. I love the expectancy of wondering what’s going to happen. Not knowing. Being surprised. Rolling with it.
Why even tap that barometer then?
Probably for the same reason I look at the stupid weather apps: to get a leg up on surprise. Or to know and then let it go. It’s funny how I abhor the lengthy weather conversation—the precursor to connection or a prolonged avoidance tactic. Someone told me once that weather conversations like sports conversations help people relax their diaphragms. They are like good bits of foreplay and allow you to breathe and relax and arch into the meat of an issue. Perhaps. Mostly what I witnessed was long weather and sports convo mixed with bloody marys and vodka martinis and then a storm. A gully washer. Which may or may not have cleared the air but definitely left the ground slightly wrecked.
I can predict the weather pretty well now without the weather apps. I think it’s because the barometer was the beginning of my noticing. Yes, I picked up my father’s sense of wind shifts. But I can also storms coming in the change in water color. I can tell clearing clouds from fronts. And I love watching a storm blow in from across a desert or an ocean. Even if the rain never actually falls on me, it’s like watching a sunrise or a sunset: Certain and magical all on its own.
So why do I still want that barometer? Why do I still think about it? Why do I wish I could see it one more time?
So that I can hear the tap tap tap and remember rounding the corner of the beach house into the kitchen where my mother and father drank coffee and talked about the plans of the day.
So that I can feel the promise of a day at the beach or on my bike or something else.
So that I can touch that simple ritual and know that whatever happens something is marking the unseen pressures in the air.