The Return

The sunlight rains in through the yellow-tinted leaves. Outside is the laughter and delightful squeal of children, and of footsteps clacking on cobblestone. I meant to wake up earlier, but I kept drifting back into sleep, dreaming of being curled up in his arms. In the morning, when I wake up next to him, I bury my face in his chest and smell the laundry detergent that I use to wash his clothes. He looks peaceful in the dull morning light; the room stands peacefully, colored in gray.

I open my eyes, and beyond window tree branches sway rightward with the incoming Autumn breeze. I sit in the kitchen waiting for the tea kettle to boil, and I close my eyes and cross my arms to guard myself against the chilled air that licks my arms into goosebumps. With eyes tightly closed, I smell the sea-salt air and watch the seagulls cawing in the distance and the white spinnakers floating in the horizon. I think of this past summer and of Sarasota.

At dusk I walked through the Georgetown campus after my classes had ended. That day I tossed my hopes up into the sky, wishing that they’d get tangled in the labyrinth of clouds, read, and brought to life.

Years later I lay on the grass in the Academic Quad at Rochester, smelling the damp ground, my face painted with sunlight. My first Spring on campus. I looked up at the sky and saw my hopes, smiling down at me. I grinned back.

It was summer when I walked out of my adviser’s office, and I’d just finished declaring my Russian major. The sun peaked out through the clouds. I looked up and saw the leaves singing and I thought: “perhaps they’ve approved?”.

In high school, the early years, I was unstoppable. Too much energy and thirst for things and possibilities that didn’t even seem to exist. I remember the first time I read Dostoevsky—I read Crime and Punishment. And yesterday, when I passed next to the Neva River, I thought of Raskolnikov and of being in high school and wishing that I could walk these very steps. I think that I made these possibilities into reality—I’ve constructed them out of hope perhaps.

Perhaps there’s a place in the Heavens, beyond the clouds, where hopes are repaired and sent back down to their owners. I’ve always awaited the arrival of my own hopes. I felt it this past summer: it was a cool afternoon and we were all standing outside the ivy-covered brick building after class. Professor D. came out, “post-consortium?” he asked, grinning. “Yes,” we all laughed. “What are you doing, Libet? Are you going into academia?” one of them asked. “Yes, I’d like to” I responded. “You should apply to Harvard!” I laughed, “Yes, perhaps…”. I glanced at the sky—“should I?” I thought. And I finally heard my hopes approve.

Years later, the demons of doubt and fear are finally disappearing.

“Dear Professor S.,

I write to you because my GPA does not meet the requirements for the Modern Languages and Cultures Honors Program. I would like to petition to get into the program…”

I remember writing that letter. I knew I was a good student. Looking around for my hopes, I said, “I thought you were returning soon? What’s taking you so long?”

“Dear Libet,

Professor S. formed an ad-hoc committee to review your application. You have been invited into the Honors Program, congratulations!”

“Perhaps you’re here and I simply have to find you?” I asked, aloud. I know they’re here. I threw them up to the heavens years ago, and they’ve been waiting, safely, kept away from harm…they’ve been waiting to come back to me.

I think they’re here. They came to me this morning and asked why I’ve just kept my distance all this time—staring, grinning…and longing. Though, still a stranger I was. I didn’t know what to say; we seldom have good justification for our cowardice, so I just told the truth: I’ve been scared and I ran away.

I almost ran away from Philip—almost. Hope, like love, comes back into you like the slow currents of a river. I stand still as the waters dance over me, sunlight hugging my neck and face. They linger in the cold waters of our pasts, and we have to let ourselves drown for them to save us. I used to think that they’d never return, that perhaps they’d become angry with me for tossing them and walking away.

Perhaps I can let myself drown; let myself be embraced by them…and a long time ago I pondered as to whether I should let myself wake up in his arms, allow myself to be saved.

After the tea and the breakfast I went back to think about my senior thesis and opened the window to the let the sun in.

aeka at 2:08 p.m.