Wind, oh

This room this morning reminds me of another, years and states away—dark glow of lacquered wood cabinetry against whitewashed walls, waking early, pre-dawn, still night, some bête noir or seasonal restlessness kicking me alert at an unusual hour—and I rose from my narrow bed and walked to the open window brightening even as I watched against the dim room, birds loud, unabashed, yelling in bird voices, careless of curfew or examination, odor of peaking lilac and rising exhalation of lawn, a long yawn across the classical quadrangle bisected by trim concrete walkways door to door, a fan of brickwork patio, wide steps like a terraced approach to the façade. In my room, door closed and awake when every stipulated line of the crested handbook deemed I should be sleeping the sleep of the just and ambitious, to wake at the appointed hour and step through the dictates of decorum in a timely and alert manner, good soldier to breakfast, to class, to sport, to study, to college, to Wall Street, to nirvana or Valhalla or Poughkeepsie or Greenwich in double time. But me, spawned out of Midwestern shipping mutts, fled from suburbia to—what? Not the lockstep—that open window loud with night-morning wilderness and invitation, sheer wet cold grass reaching for pellmell tread of bare feet, plush and bleeding green onto feeling skin—was I seduced by the luxury of slouching leather chairs in library alcoves and cool-flagged floors for what they represented of achievement and arrival—or more an ecstatic religion of outright aesthetic bursting with sensory revelation if bereft of explicit intent? What passed for a curtain then, blowing in on the breeze of that morning, a tapestry handed-down from my older sister before me, scrap of previous bohemianism forever smelling somehow of bacon, likely incense of a prior era redolent to me of grandeur, intrigue, and slippery decadence—imagined panoramas concocted against the blank slate sweep of my own small dormitory space, constructed vividly, elaborately envisioned, tempted by and craving something more, beyond, surging like the rolling energy of those forested hillsides reaching across the view—up close forever to scale, endless under the clatter of lacrosse cleats against pavement, impromptu long distance testament to coaching praxis grounded in Yankee punishment and shame, shin splints be damned—but well fed, well bred, acultured to a definite ideal and set of lofty standards—The H______ Experience so called as if by trademark, emblazoned as banner across tastefully matte brochure covers and, I seem to recall, white painter’s caps at the Upper Mid Carnival—even the class years renamed in deference to an other, auspicious tradition, apart from the norm, set teetering upon the pinnacle of a hilltop overlooking a white-steepled town and jewel-blue lake, tottering on the verge of adulthood and self-definition. And now, here, so many years after—another window yawning wide with possibility—the stretch between the two containing what? So much so various. Hardly cohering to a path except that it does and has, somehow—navigable only by the wits and will of an inestimable drive onward through cities and streets, houses and apartment buildings, changing names, professions, habits formed and broken, hearts and feasts and fasts and tumbles through spare bedrooms, across transcontinental highways and gravel back roads, chicken shit and industrial soot, impossible weather. Many mornings waking to sunlight or rain, Spring birds or rumble of jumbo jets in descent, wide and ranging cast of companions and housepets, solitude persistent—always wondering what precisely it was that called me awake that one morning and how to answer it even now.

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