Dunedin. If there is such a place as this, it is right here. Quiet in its bearing. It is easy to get wowed by the rolling green hills that sometimes seem to stretch on forever. And I want to be wowed. I want to be taken in by the secret charm that hides in this city’s street corners and in her strangers’ smiles. It is so easy to unfurl for this and forget to remember that on the other side of the rolling hills the pacific waves are crashing against solid rock. A duel of duels.
What is this about? My conference chair is uncomfortable. I’m weighted down by speeches and thoughts. People speaking into the air, speaking things that crash into me and leave me breathless. I’m not sure what to do with these words swirling around my ear. They make me tired. Tracing their beginning and end is in itself an endless fling. We search for answers in circles of theories. Heads beating against heads, grasping for salvation. But there is none. Not on this surface. And I’m reminded again how I do not belong here. How we shouldn’t belong here.
Belonging. I’m standing here looking over a sea of faces I have never seen before. Faces with eyes that bore into my being as though they were looking for something, finding something. Eyes that meet my own in moments of question and acknowledgement. But is this what belonging feels like? The room is big but the air is not enough. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth and the words won’t push past my throat. They settle in my belly instead. What I really want to say remains trapped in my body.
Belonging grabs you by the wrists and makes you empty yourself. It looks you in the eye and says, “speak your mind. I really want to hear it.” Collegiality is not belonging. It never was.
This stuff. This stuff that is lying on my floor. I want to pick it up and gather it into piles. But I don’t know how. It seems so fragile, all these little pieces of things that don’t fit anywhere. It’s hard to let go. When the present slowly begins to turn into the past sometimes I hold on tight like my whole life depends on it. The truth is, I’m just afraid of tomorrow.
Come to the sea with me. And let’s be quiet with one another. Perhaps the silence will take away the pain we have given one another. Perhaps it will bandage the wounds we have made on each other’s skins. Come closer. Maybe we can cover up this gap that is glaring at us. Maybe this distance is merely an illusion of what we fear the most; to see each other naked.
Love is in the air. I hear it in the birds’ songs that come to me as I sit here to write on this old, rugged desk. I smell it in the air. The air here is so fresh – like the dew droplets falling off leaves in the morning or the mist that escapes your mouth forming a soft cloud right before your eyes, the kind that disintegrates into nothing when you reach for it. But the air here holds your lungs like they are special, precious cargo. I haven’t been held like this in a long time. I want to reciprocate. I want to breathe it in, into all the parts and corners of me. To rejuvenate. To enliven. To fill up with nourishment.
Breath. Air. Love. Did you notice how they are one and the same thing?