Last Night in Texas

August 27, 2008

So, I’ve been avoiding even writing in a journal for the past couple of days. I wonder why? I have been an avid journal keeper since the age of 6.

Today, my friend Chrissie asked me how I felt about everything that’s happening — moving to New York, pursuing my dream, etc. and I just said: I am taking it one day at a time. I guess I try not to think too much about it…perhaps I feel like I might jinx something, or perhaps if I think too far ahead, I might get the wrong idea about things.

But here I am, my last night in Texas, getting ready to fly to New York tomorrow morning, forcing myself to reflect on this moment, this movement.

When I stop and think about what I am about to do, I get a little overwhelmed. Oh God. I think: can I do this? How did I get here? Is this real? I have fleeting moments of panic.

It’s funny. I was sitting at Barnes and Noble in Midland today, reading a collection of poetry by Grace Paley and I thought: Here I am. Back where it started. I used to ride my bike to Barnes and Noble when I was younger and read poetry for hours. I used to look at the poetry section and try and place my book of poetry on the shelf. Shannon Hardwick…next to Hardy, that’s not a bad place to be. I would read book after book of poetry, trying to learn as much as I could about who was writing, who wrote and what exactly they were doing, how they were moving, what exactly it spoke to me. And there I was today, reading a collection of poetry by a woman who helped create the writing program which I will soon be a student of. I shake my head. I read. I feel my body stir. I see a girl, curled up with a book, swallowing the beauty of sound, tasting others’ observations, loving every word. How did I manange to salvage this through so many trials? Why did I make it so difficult at certain points of my life, to get here? Exactly here?

Here. Poetry and I sit and converse. I listen, mostly. I haven’t written anything in a long while, and even if I have, it hasn’t been anything too grand. No matter. Here I am. Poems come back to me eventually. It’s been a fast-paced month, it’s been an interesting road. And yet, stillness comes back to me between others’ lines. Here, I find the little girl, the teenager, the present woman, the future woman I am to become. I have yet to see her beauty. I have yet to look at the world with her eyes, but I can tell it will always carry a certain beauty, no matter the place, no matter the circumstance. And the sun is setting now. West Texas. Oh, your beautiful offering. Sunset sky. My love. My reading lamp. My very heart resting before God.

Two nights ago, my sister and I were sitting in the grocery store parking lot. The sun was setting. She said “It looks like we could just climb strait to heaven, right there.” And I said “yes. yes it does.” She said “It’s leaving! Let’s go inside before we can see it go down and turn dark.” I wonder, why beauty lasts just long enough for us to truly grasp it’s power, it’s frailty?

So. My last night in Texas. Of course, I will come back. But certainly I move on from here in order to pursue my love, my dream. How beautiful this life. How blessed. And how fleeting. Yes, like my sister, I feel like running inside before the light dims, before the height of a sunset’s gold light weakens. But, of course, all things must end. And like the dazzling stars which follow the setting sun, endings are transformations into new light. Nothing is too big or small to let go of, to embrace, to linger somewhere at the base of my spine.

“I do not think the spirit can make itself anywhere so small that it would concern only our temporal existance, our here and now: where it surges toward us, there we are the dead and the living all at once.” –Rilke

One day, I will forget this. One day, the world will breathe in, and I will go out of the world, understanding each event, loving each movement for what it created. I hope I have some of that wisdom now, if just a little.

Maybe I won’t write anything profound. Maybe. Maybe I already have, and it’s simply curled inside some distant shell, sleeping, stirring, waiting on the sun to set.

Here I go.

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