"The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing —
to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from —
my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing,
all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back."

~C.S. Lewis


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The saddest kind of tears

At least on days like this, I mutter, stomping down the Rosedale Mall sidewalk in high-heeled boots, I don’t have to worry about getting mugged. I look too upset—if I were a thug, I wouldn’t attack someone who looked mean.

It’s late April, Minnesota, but I don’t know what season it is; winter, I think. Snow huddles on asphalt edges, and flowering crabapple trees line the sidewalk like lighted Christmas trees. This afternoon the little drummer boy marched around my car to the tune of Enya as I drove to the shops off Snelling, and I didn’t have the heart to turn him off. Two hours later, I’ve rejected enough skirt suits to clothe a nursing home, and my boot heels slam craters into the sidewalk sludge. Stupid formal presentations, stupid idea to dress up. Smirking wind spits in my face.

I forge past Claire’s and a pink crabapple tree. Ragstock and a white one. I’m brushing by a third when I pause. And turn around.

I need to stop a moment. Dropping my purse to murky concrete, I perch on the tree’s wooden planter with woven branches overhead, dreamcatchers standing guard, and damp soaking through my jeans. My blistered feet press like inmates against black suede as I watch a hundred cars slinking through the parking lot, and I wait for something dramatic to happen. The raised flowerbed strangling the tree is barren except for a few soppy cigarette stubs. I’m glad. Flowers shouldn’t bloom when I’m miserable. 

It’s not raining now, as I’m not crying anymore: I remember a movie I once saw where the black-haired princess wasn’t sad because it rained; it rained because she was sad. Clogged skies drag themselves over the city. Tears, I stare at mud ground into planter boards, would be appropriately dramatic about now. But of course, here, when I have time to see the tree with pink blossoms, when crying would certainly bring a prince charging to my rescue out of Macy’s double doors, eyes are dry. Tears had come earlier during a meeting with a professor, when, fearful, I hid them and pretended I was fine: Why would you care? Don’t mind me, the robot. Just carry on. He didn’t notice. And no prince burst through a classroom door.

East of me 6,200 miles, a small Israeli girl also sits, back pressed against her stale brick house, feet tucked up, arms around knees. A breeze off the Sea of Galilee peers around the corner at her. Through the window the television announcer pursues: Israel preparing to bomb Iran, Iran likely to counterattack, war in northern Israel.

Israel to them; home to her. She watches the olive tree in front of her, sees its buds writhe vainly out of branches’ cocoons. When missiles scream down on her home, and her tree is shattered, house crumbled, mother disappeared, she knows she’ll cry. She stares at her dirty fingernails. Tears no one will see. 

A mother and her young daughter step out the glass doors in front of me, the little girl clomping along in dirty snow boots. “Let me tell you something,” the mother declares, “about shoes with heels.” She pauses for effect. “Heels hurt.”

I look down at my aching feet. Yes, heels hurt.

Tears hurt, too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No one sees you cry when it rains

When I want to shut off
                          shut down
I step outside, for no one sees me cry
When it rains.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Of beauty, why it matters

This is one of my favorite songs, because it says something I rarely know how to articulate: of beauty, and how it matters.