If you read this, let this play for a minute before reading on. This song has brought me to tears a handful of times. The first time was in public. I was writing a friend who is pretty special to me in an Engineering Hall computer lab. In the middle of my letter, I realized I was very lucky to be able to connect with her. It was a connection I had never experienced before. I was realizing I might never have it again in that particular way with another person. It was beautiful and sad all at once.
I had done similar crying before this. The first of which I remember was in 1985. There was a big summer storm coming through the small town of Sunland Park, New Mexico. At 5 years old, I recognized the signs..the overcast sky with deep-blue hues and dark greys rolling in on themselves.. the occasional rumbles that would come from miles away. My sisters were scared. They probably thought the sky was angry but I just saw power. The universe was breathing and I was there breathing with it. The wind was blowing dust, and leaves, and tumble weeds down my street and into the banks of the Rio Grande. I could feel the energy building.
I walked out through the metal gate that was cemented into the white brick that framed our yard. I walked out slowly, feeling the cold metal in my hand, rubbing the flakey black paint with my thumb as I shut the gate behind me. Beyond the white brick was just dirt. I stood there staring at the sky…breathing, listening to the deep rumbles, watching the clouds fold, and grow, and darken…the wind’s fingers caressing my hair like a mother… The universe was in me. The rumbles were in my bones. The clouds were folding in my chest.
I knelt and formed a big mound from the soft dirt that was common so close to the river. Leaves blew past and I squinted to keep the grains of sand from blowing in my eyes. I laid on my stomach and rested my head with my arms wrapped around the mound. It was the softest pillow I could have asked for. I laid there forever. I just watched the universe being. Eventually the soft warm pecks of summer rain were falling on my body…landing on my face and mixing with my tears. The thunder was loud and constant. The soft warm pecks turned fast, and hard, and cold. It was beautiful and sad all at once.
Some time later my mom ran out. “What are you doing out here in this rain!! Get inside!” She had pulled me up from my wrist and then shot an awkward glance at my dirt mound. “Are you trying to save that dirt?” She laughed. “You are such a strange boy. That dirt is going to be there in the morning.” I looked up at her silently. She couldn’t see that my face was covered in tears. “Get inside! It’s wet!”
It’s the kind of crying that I’ll probably do when I’m 80, sitting in a park, watching a 3 year old discover flowers with his mother. It will be beautiful and it will be sad all at once. It will fill me so much that it will have to come pouring back out onto my cheeks. Some stranger will probably laugh “What is that old man doing? He’s such a strange old man.”
This song will be playing in my head.