Gladly Beyond Any Experience

In three weeks from today, my husband and I will be boarding a train and travelling across the country to a new home waiting for us in Washington State. While this adventure has been in the works for almost six months, it all fell together quite suddenly at the end of August, and only in the last week has it finally begun to feel real to me. I will be leaving Pittsburgh, the city that I was born in and lived in for twenty-nine years and travelling almost literally as far away from it as I can go without crossing an ocean. Oh, gods, the ocean. I have never even seen the Pacific Ocean. I imagine that it’s very much like the Atlantic (how different can it really be?), but still, I can only imagine. I am overflowing with anticipation and wonder.

I have gone on trips, before, of course. I have an uncle who lives in Colorado and in my teens my family would visit him semi-regularly. I always loved Colorado. Everything seemed more real there. Of course, it helped, I imagine, that we were up in the mountains surrounded not just by nature (I have a lot of nature here, too, Pittsburgh is very green), but enormous nature. No matter where we went, the sky was hugely there. The mountains dominate the horizon, and the trees! The trees were, well, everywhere and really big. I know that Washington and Colorado are very different, but it’s really the only reference I have. Going to visit my uncle always felt like an adventure, like there were new things, new realms of experience everywhere.

I know that in time that sense will fade, but I’m thrilled to have it for as long as it lasts as my husband and I establish ourselves in Washington. Routine, I think, abolishes wonder. Yet, I think it is this wonder that fills life with real meaning. As much as I have tired of Pittsburgh, and of living in a place that I have come to feel simply has nothing left to offer me, I do still try to detach myself from routine and just experience things. My husband and I go on adventures whenever we can, even if that really just means wandering around the park and playing with other people’s dogs, or going to a coffee shop and trying a lavender vanilla latté for the first time. These are small things, though, and I’m excited to have a whole new unfamiliar world of adventure. I want to hold on the that adventure for as long as I can.

Now, we are moving for serious reasons. My husband and I have family and friends on the west coast who are going through difficult times and they need familiar faces with them. We really don’t have too much tying us to Pittsburgh, and so we offered to go to them. When people ask me why we’re moving, that’s what I tell them, and it is the gods’ honest truth. I am told, then, that I’m such a good friend, such a caring person to just pack up and go, and yet, I feel a little disingenuous. I am moving at the behest of people that I care deeply for, and I would do anything in my power to alleviate their suffering, it is a delight to do so, and yet…

I am thrilled with the thought of all of the new things, of all of the opportunities, of the new worlds unfolding in front of me. I feel very selfish. I am in the process of applying to a graduate program in Northern California which, if all goes smoothly, will alter the course of my life entirely. I am moving not just out of a city, but out of an entire way of living, of being. More than anything else, I’m thrilled to have someone that I love so deeply that I did the one thing that I was certain I would never do, and married. My husband and I are travelling into an entirely new life together.

I am so excited to see how this change effects my art, my spirituality, my philosophy. I have been focussing a good deal, lately on the idea of wonder and its spiritual significance, which I can guarantee I will discuss in greater depth on this blog, and this whole adventure seems like a perfect opportunity to explore these ideas further. I feel so much like I am on the edge of a great transformation.

I am put in mind of one of my favorite poems:

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

– e.e.cummings

Place and person are beautifully elided: a whole new adventure…


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