Wake up early, before the shrill of the day can match you to its fever pitch. Wake up early while the rest of the house remains quiet and far off in sleep. Wake up early and listen to the rain rattle the old roof and rustle the endless piling of leaves in the yard. Turn off the alarm and ease yourself into recalling your dreams. Water. It begins and ends with water.
They say it never rains in southern California, that’s the song that keeps playing in your head. You’ve been here for exactly twelve days and it has rained three times. It reminds you of the very early spring back east, where the warm currents claw their way out of from beneath the thick and endless winter cold.
This is not spring. No. This is winter now. Go ahead, laugh like an idiot. Role around in your bed and smile until your smile muscles start to quiver. You’ve done it. Here you are.
You fancy yourself to be the water bringer. You know it’s been drought here, so much drought. Then the floods came and brought you tumbling forward, and now the rain is settling in as you start to live with the idea that you’re here and not there. It is the dreams, you tell yourself, the dreams of water. You are diving in, submerging, swimming. You are listening to the water move across the sandy soil as if it were the sweetest soundtrack you’ve ever heard.
Look at the mountains. Look at the mountains and remember once more that you are nothing, you are not anything that can’t be ground down to dust by one single rock slide. Remember that the water will never know the wonder and the terror with which you behold the mountain, for it will bury the rock slide as it births a new landscape. In the end, even the rock cannot resist the will of the waters. You start to laugh some more. Yes, like an idiot. Your smile muscles are getting stronger, but they’re not strong enough. You invite that ache in your jaw. It reminds you of the person that you love.
He’s somewhere far off beyond some other mountain range. Most likely, his smile muscles are at work just like yours. The string that you tried to cut from your ribs, the string that tethered you to his life, that string is wiser and much older that the two of you combined. It did not snap at the distance of continents or the force of separation. It became low and quiet, waiting in the ether of your vision just behind your eyelids and earlobes. It began to tug at the smile muscles so that when he pulls in laughter you begin to twitch and move into aliveness. It lassoed around the water of your dreams so that when you submerge, he will take to swimming.
This is the longest string in all the universe. This is the string of so many lives that tangle and knot and bend together and apart, but never will sever. So now you must ask yourself, as you have so many times: how can this be? how could this miracle choose me?
Oh my, what a silly question! This is so much bigger than you or he or even any life you bring into the world together. This is the thing that makes death so wild and sorrowful, to know you have found the magic that is worth living for, the kind of love that is worth dying for.
“No more waiting in line!” life has proclaimed.
Oh, these smile muscles, teetering between laughter and tear. Answer yourself this question: how could it ever be that you were not meant for this? how could it ever be that life would pass you over? The answer is the rock slide and the rib bones, the thousands of miles you’ve traveled to see the red earth of the first nation peoples. The answer is his eyes, the eyes which you imagine your child gazing up at you with. The answer is his voice and the smile on his mouth which sweetens the turn of his words. It is every possibility of joy that exists because he exists. It is the rain, the way in which it flows through, even the bald faced mountain rocks which seems so impossible. It is the water, the way it changes form but still retains its elemental magic. It is water, like you and me.