Insomnia, you mistress, called again last night.
You feel guilty for visiting your mother & not knowing what to say (& not having a moment to say it anyway); you tune out and forget her holiday plans but remember all the nuances of discourse on the episode of Bill Maher you get to watch while everyone else sleeps. You don’t have cable, so what a treat to be humored and informed and provoked when you can’t sleep anyway. But weren’t you there to say something to your mother? What was it now?
You know last night was the same. Back home, but you couldn’t sleep, and in lieu of cable there was a restless dog and a wind-rattled sky. You hitched the dog to your side, and stepped into the chilly flustering world, prepared for a trek to the ocean (something you can’t do in your hometown).
Reaching the ocean, you ask yourself if you’ve ever seen anything more beautiful than Montana de Oro engulfed in a ring of flames at twilight. You imagine those flames are ten to thirty feet tall in some places, but suspect your imagination is embellishing the details a bit. Your logic tells you those are mostly embers, with spots of manageable bonfires here and there (surely it’s under control). Still, there’s the wind to factor in…
You force the dog to abandon a questionable clump of beach debris, trudge on against the howling flurries, mesmerized by the fire in the distance. ‘Is there anything more lovely than this fire on this night?’ you ask yourself. And, ‘Why am I the only one out here? Why aren’t people clustered along the beach, marveling gape-jawed as I am? Don’t they know what they’re missing? All this beauty, all this cold slapping fresh air?! Why am I the only one out here? What is it about me that compels me to rouse the dog from contentedly licking herself to sleep to come meander into a tempest while everyone else sleeps?’
You laugh, because you mistook a child’s sand sculpture for a dead seal the dog wants to eat. It’s so dark, save for the faint glow of streetlights slivered along the beach. Some have tree limbs dancing in and out of them, making them seem as restless sea creatures shimmying along the sand. You try not to bump into them–even though you know they’re not real.
What is it you were trying to say to your mother? Take chances. Be spontaneous. Let go? ‘But where has that gotten you [wouldn’t she say]?’ So you compile a list in your head of where this has gotten you over the years, this meandering insomniac/dreamer spontaneity of yours, and you try to weigh out the pros and cons and you hope that they measure up somehow–this weight. You know that not all chances taken were successful, but neither were they void of meaning. You know what she really means. You know that you should be back home and asleep and letting the dog rest already, and you should get up in the morning and try to find a ‘real job’ that your mother and your sister keep telling you is out there, but you’d rather let go of all this chatter, all this noise, all this thrumming wind passes through you and this weight wriggles free along its course.
You venture home, all the while not wanting to turn away from the beautiful fire.