Tilting Memories – Traveling Thoughts

October 19, 2010

I’m looking out the window, and everything that is good is rushing towards me with rhythmic speed. Somewhere between twenty minutes of sleep and seventy kilometers of bus wheels turning, an absolutely utopian state of mind has nuzzled against my bones, and the spin of the world feels slow and soft. It’s a feeling that suddenly has me concentrating, with unbreakable focus, on impossible tasks like hopping from one cloud to another; a feeling that tricks me into planning such impossible adventures in the greatest detail. In moments like this, the perspectives that I have been exhausting myself to find are willingly throwing open trap doors and pealing back face-paint to reveal themselves one at a time; and the surprise of their nearness knocks me at an angle that, finally, makes me breath all the way out. I feel, quite literally, like the luckiest person in the world; when, in reality, nothing at all has actually changed. Every object in the tornado of my mid-twenties is still wildly in flux, and yet everything feels perfectly in its place.

A mood like this can never be called upon, but when it arrives, it feels familiar, like a visitor I’ve been subconsciously waiting for; and that’s when the rushing begins. Something in the world tilts, and distant memories slide at my feet. Images of friends, parents, and fond acquaintances materialize with vivid clarity. Wrinkles beneath cheek bones, flecks of eye color, movements of eyebrows, and the exact curve of facial expressions play with slide-show-like sentimentality before me. My present world begins to transform, making the people that I adore so deeply, the ones I haven’t seen in months or years, appear in unmatched likeness. It’s in the midst of moments like these that I believe in traveling thoughts and the possibility that the last breath I took came to me, perfectly preserved, from the mouth of someone I love. I begin to think that maybe, just maybe, the wrinkles on the lake outside this window are a product of some sort of cosmic aftershock of the good memories that happened days and weeks and years ago.

At this moment, strangers are coughing and gasoline is leaking somewhere outside, but I’m hearing the sound my dad makes when picks me up from the airport; I’m taking in the smell of sweat and alcohol hanging on the clothes of my friends in our college days; I’m seeing the sleep-puffed morning eyes of a certain someone even as she’s sound asleep in this dark night bus. And, in a way, that’s the best way to describe the grip of a bliss like this – it’s remarkably close to the peace felt when watching a loved one sleep. Someone, platonic or romantic, who falls out of the world and into a place where friction stops, and life in its truest sense slowly, rhythmically continues, one breath at a time. In their stillness, they come to life, and the sheer miracle of their specific being – the way they talk, the way they express themselves, their habits – endearing or otherwise – all of these things are highlighted by the contrast of rest. As witnesses to a private moment, we are granted the privilege of reflection and the sheer joy of appreciation.

So, in light of that comparison, it’s no surprise that a mood like this tends to visit during quiet hours. When my life slows down, like it has for the past six hours of this bus ride from Dubrovnik to Sarajevo, I am occasionally lucky enough to gain access to the stretch of land where the best of my memories are fast asleep. At this juncture in my life, the memories are happening rapidly – so when I catch them sleeping, the power of that contrast hits heavy, and I am left with the uncontainable joy of watching them at rest. I’ve never grabbed a laptop, or a even a pen for that matter, when this type of euphoria sets in. The elation feels strong enough to paralyze yet fragile enough to break at whim – a combination that typically leaves me relatively motionless. But tonight I worked up the courage to make a record of my appreciation for the slumbering memories before they wake. Tomorrow, after all, holds a new country and another day. With speed like this, I can’t afford to miss a single opportunity.

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