Constellations

Δ Δ Δ | telescopic | original photo from @renan_ozturk

@triglyyy: Δ Δ Δ | telescopic | original photo from @renan_ozturk

I hope it’s okay to repost this photo– it’s from one of the users I follow on instagram, and I’ve tried to give proper citation and links back (and please– if someone knows @triglyyy or you stumble on this yourself and you’d like me to take this down, just let me know).

I have always had a distant love affair with stars– I think this is just part of the human condition.  At one point I tried to teach myself the stories of stars, but the only story and constellation combination I know is the story of Perseus saving Andromeda.  Some day I hope to know more, and I suspect that if I ever have children, the star-stories will be ones that I’ll selfishly try to tell so I can learn them as well. 

This summer I spent a lot of evenings beneath the stars, and I want to write about those evenings and how they stretched into morning, but I’m finding it difficult.  There was the night, in Squamish, that we stripped down and balanced out on logs to skinny dip in the warm lake under the Perseids. The night we saw the northern lights streaking across the Vantage sky.  The night we walked into the desert shortly after sunset, covered in dark, the blanket of stars our only light. The night at Smith where the moon rose so quickly it felt alive and breathing, reaching for the zenith. I need to reclaim these evenings into my body and make them my own.  I think it’s finally time to finish the tattoo on my right arm– finally commit to the constellation that marked so much.  I no longer talk to the man that was beside me on that hike, who spent high noon on the top of Half Dome with me and who, when I paused in fear, talked me through it.  I wonder, sometimes, if he thinks about that summer at all and all of the plans we had.  I think he is happier now, without me.  We always survive. 

I don’t see stars often, here in the city.  Sometimes pinpricks make it through, but often they are just the bright gems of Orion’s belt, or the sharp points of Cassiopeia’s crown. In the summer I make it out often enough to be star-satiated, but winter keeps me close to the city.  This is one of the reasons I’ve finally decided to take up skiing– I need to be beneath a larger sky.  I am so thankful for K, who sends me photos of his trips, but it isn’t the same as being out there.  I dislike the cold and I’m honestly a little terrified of skiing, but it’s time to stop living through other people. 

I wanted to scoop out the sky

DSCN3050“The thing that turns what Mann calls a litterateur—that’s a person who writes for a New York magazine, say—into a poet or an artist, a person who can give humanity the images to help it live, is that the artist recognizes the imperfections around him with compassion.”

I’ve been reading Joseph Campbell’s Pathways to Bliss and it’s making me reevaluate my own mythology. It feels terribly meta to be continually reflecting and trying to place my current position into a larger thread but I can’t seem to help it.

Seattle has gotten hot and will be getting hotter in the next few days, and after dinner the sunset pulled me out of the house and onto the street. I can’t quite see it from beneath as well as I can from my own window, but I walked towards the glow, and then later went for a long walk around Greenlake with my housemate. Is this a night I will remember years from now? I forget so much daily, and I know that forgetting is an essential part of life- if we remembered every face and every detail we would be entirely unable to function in the world. But what about the things that are so Important Now? They slip as well. Journals are useful, and there are some reoccurring themes (mythology?) throughout my old pages, but I keep finding things I thought so grand and important coming flooding back but not of their own accord. It takes a prod, it takes a jolt—some sort of cue. Without that they have utterly slipped away.

The fear of forgetting is what drives me to read and re-read mythology. I want to learn the stories and retell them, but I’m awful at remembering names and details. It somehow seems if I can remember the stories, I’ll be remembered myself. I think, also, that I’ve written about this before on here, but I’m not going to check back through old posts to find out. Opened with a quote, so I will close with another Campbell quote that explains why:

“My notion about myself was that I had grown up during that time, that my ideas had changed, and, too, that I had progressed. But when I brought these papers together, they were all saying essentially the same thing—over a span of decades. I had found out something about the thing that was moving me.”

Fairy Tales and Buses

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The most beautiful woman sits across from me on the bus. Arched eyebrows, skin the color of dark caramel.  Cream scarf caught around her neck and jacket with a ruffled collar that I would, in no way, be able to wear.  I expect her to get off at the first stop, or the second, but as I leave she remains seated, she moves along the arteries of the city and disappears. 

Downtown, the tops of the buildings are caught in mist.  Grey day in Seattle, no surprises there.  It seems a day for magic, for things to happen.  I am not the beautiful girl on the bus, but she exists and I know nothing about her, I will never see her again.  She is perfect in my unknowing.

 

The cherry blossoms are giving way to leaves, and white petals shower off of trees I cannot name.  Dogwood? Myrtle? Last night a man told me he remembered kissing my neck, the salty taste of my skin.  He could have waxed poetic; told me about oceans and brine and the way our bodies are like water, continually renewing.  He didn’t.  I remember the collision of our bodies differently–the night thin above our bodies, the way I wanted to claw out of everything.  Depression is a funny thing, so thick and present when caught in a backwards glance.

 

I have been told I am like the wind, moving constantly. A creature of air and current. I remember my mythology, my fairy tales.  There are so many winds, drawn with puffed cheeks and billowing beards.  The wicked and cold North winds, the warm and kind South winds.  Wind that is caught carefully in a sack and released at the wrong time, wind that carries forlorn brides to distant lands, repentant and clutching tallow stained shirts.  East of the sun, west of the moon.  To the ends of the earth.

 

Outside the flags barely move, they shift limply on their poles, they hang listlessly.  The glass walls let in fogged light only slightly paler than the grey carpet, than the off-white metal girders.  My body is not wind, is not water, is not anything but sitting here, solidly in a corner.  I want to know where the woman was going, I half expect her to walk past me here, clutching a museum map, her reflection multiplied across the metal skin of planes.  She has vanished into the city, beyond the city.  She is drinking coffee, her lips marking the edge of the paper cup.  She is reading a book, turning each page slowly.

 

I remember my fairytales.  A girl wanders into the woods following the next flower.  Clutching her treasures to her breast she is lost and confused and at the periphery wolf-teeth glint.  Skin the color of fresh snow, lips the color of blood.  The horse head that speaks to the goose-girl, a hidden princess.  In fairytales, there are central characters and the background fades into a tangle of brambles, into the vast ocean between the house of the sun and the house of the moon.  Would I be Snow White, that princess Aurora, or would I be a maid simply cleaning the flagstones as sleep descends in its spell-filled cloud?

 

[I have begun to write at work. My real job at my paying job. The language is a bit stilted, the threads meandering, but at least I am keeping my mind active.  I don’t know what use most of it has, so I suspect it will end up here.]