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So, last night, I went with M to a concert by the Boston Cello Quartet at Wayland High School.  It had been rescheduled from two weeks ago due to the snow storm we got back then.  We were running later than intended, but still got there about 10 minutes before 8 p.m., so I was just shaking off the "OMG I'm late!!!" frazziness I always get.  We were walking across the parking lot, and I just happened to be looking at the sky when I saw a large, bright light.  I had a split-second assumption that it was a streetlight turning on, because it appeared about that size. Except it had a greenish tinge, and a frickin' tail!  Then I had maybe five seconds of staring agog as it flashed a bit brighter, simultaneously sputtered and expanded in size, and piffed out completely.  I didn't realized that I'd said, "Holy shit!" until M said, "What?"  She hadn't seen it; I don't think anyone else in the parking lot had seen it, either; at least, I didn't hear any other exclamations. 

And that was bittersweet.  I felt exalted, set apart, the only witness to a sacred event.  Special.  But at the same time, I wanted to share it with others, with everyone.  Of course, partly I wanted someone else to say I wasn't crazy, because: Did I really just see a fireball in the sky?!  But mainly, being exalted alone is lonely.  Like everyone, I think I want to be special until someone tells me I'm special, and then I just feel exposed and isolated.  I was connected to the universe — to something some people experience as God — but I was unconnected to people.

When I took a college class on the Old Testament, the professor let me get away with murder: instead of essays, I got to write short stories and monologues.  One piece was from the point of view of Jeremiah.  My Jeremiah was a lonely man, an agnostic who wasn't even sure his prophesies came from God, and who knew that if he shared them he'd be an outcast.  But he was compelled to share his beliefs, even as he wasn't sure he himself believed them, even as he knew it would make his life hell.  I didn't put together at the time how autobiographical I was being, how isolated I felt from the world around me.  I ached for him in a way I couldn't ache for myself.

It's been a while since I've felt that constant unconnectedness, adrift alone in a rowboat on the ocean, sometimes without the rowboat.  Most of the time, I feel more a part of the world than I ever imagined.  Once in a while, though, something happens that throws me back in the icy ocean.  But now I can swim, dog-paddle in a circle until I see the shore and can head slowly and steadily back to land, anticipating with certainty the feel of the sand beneath my feet, knowing I will get there.  I ache with the cold, but I know it will end, and I can relish it in a way.  I am not that person anymore.  I will probably never be that person again.  But I remember her, and I am strong enough to pull her to shore now, and there is a bittersweet sacredness to that that I am unable to put into words here.  It's an unexpected streak across the sky, setting me apart for a moment, alone with myself.


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Violet Wilson

October 2016

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