Saturday, November 29, 2008

the blue and the gray matter

"If you gave me several million years, there would be nothing that did not grow in beauty if it were surrounded by water."
Jan Erik Vold, 1970

Air plants drip from the giant oak trees that spread out above the Savanah streets. They hang in tendrils, soaking up moisture from the air. Their abundance suggests that they are doing a good job, but my sticky skin and the formation of gills on my neckline suggest that they have a way to go before Georgia runs out of moisture. It's not hot, but my skin is vinyl on bare legs in the summer, sticking to everything, fooling me into believing that I'm sweating. Downtown Savannah is an underwater burg, where pedestrians swim instead of walking, and greet each other with drowned silences, only an Oh of bubbles escaping their parted lips as they pass each other in front of centuries old buildings.

And it's maybe just as well; there's so much to be quiet about. Plantations stand, and white tourists snapsnapflashflash photos of the darling architecture, pretending they lived in the times of southern belles and gentlemen. Beneath their feet are buried the bones of slaves, unnoticed or ignored, like the real history behind this place. I visited one such plantation, a stately old mansion built in 1740, where tours were given on the hour by a white guide. There was only one mention of slavery. No discussion, no questions, and I listened closely. I'm sure that when the tour guide stopped to take a breath, I heard a shovel slicing into the dirt, digging and burying, digging and burying.

But these are perhaps the misinterpreted observations of a mute woman. A woman who has barely spoken in four days. I'm living in my own silent world, created by me. Maybe the shovel I heard was in my own head, as I quieted the dissonance of thoughts swirling about in there, burying that urge to talk talk talk. Less talk, more action, Ms. Darling. Free yourself from the shackles of habitual thinking. Send your brain for a ride on the underground railroad. Freedom is the ultimate reward for your silence.

Last night I had nightmares about my phone. I woke, drenched, as though just pulled back into consciousness after nearly drowning, yearning to turn my phone on, just for one teensy call. I wanted to press the cold glass to my ear, feel the color return to my face as I listen to a familiar voice. I leaned over the edge of my bunk, swung my feet over, and fell off the wagon.

Damn. This is harder than I thought.

"To trace the history of a river or a raindrop…is also to trace the history of the soul, the history of the mind descending and arising in the body. In both, we constantly seek and stumble upon divinity, which like feeding the lake, and the spring becoming a waterfall, feeds, spills, falls, and feeds itself all over again."

Gretel Ehrlich (From Islands, The Universe, Home, 1991)


Anonymous said...

Oooh you're in Georgia!!! that means you're close to Gainesville!!! I hope you're still planning on coming. I am soooooooooooooooooo excited to see you! Oh and I feel your pain about the phone thing. I ended up incurring an $800+ phone bill while traveling in Europe. I meant to use my cell phone only as an alarm clock but there were many atimes I grew weak in forgeign countries and wanted to call Mommy and Daddy. You have pretty good willpower if you can do it without even having to worry about outrageous phone charges as a consequence! You go girlie!

Rachel Tamed said...

Your silence says a lot more than most folks' blabberings. Glad you are hanging in there love.