Praestigiare

Iteration III

At the Tips of My Fingers

June 17, 2007

When I do a flip and a half diving from the springboard at the pool, I have a moment of doubt just as I jump onto the end of the board. But then the board pushes back and my arms are coming down and it’s too late to stop. I curl and the spin is too fast to keep track of from within. I don’t know where I am, and can’t tell where I’m going. Then somehow I know, and open up the curl, and there is the water, just at the tips of my fingers every time.

For the past week I have wanted to write something that started with the line “I think, for the first time in my life, I am beginning to see the shape of my future ahead of me, still indistinct, but taking on more detail as it gets closer.” The problem is that I am not actually sure it is the truth. My future has always been big changes with little warning spaced between periods of calm. I find it difficult to imagine time as a continuum. It’s more like bodysurfing on a starless night. Time comes in waves, and there is nothing you can do but let them pass you by or try to ride them without going over the lip. I think I can hear a wave coming, but I can’t yet feel the water pulling back.

Walking across the parking lot to the grocery store tonight I could see the moon, a tiny orange sliver in a sky still clear blue with the end of the long summer twilight. Venus was close, almost perfectly aligned between the two pointed tips of the crescent. It probably happens with clockwork regularity, but the last time I remember looking up and seeing that particular configuration was in 1997. I don’t know if Venus was particularly bright that summer, like Mars was in 2003, or if it was just the first time I paid attention to it. Continuity can be a comfort, but it’s usually superficial.

I don’t see the moon now like I used to anyway. It is a little smudged these days. When the crescent is very delicate there are sometimes two moons unless I squint. Too many hours spent pressing buttons instead of getting lost in foreign cities, I suppose. Too little time spent upside down after I turned twenty.

All of these things are related, but I’m spinning too fast and I can’t keep track from within, and I don’t want to open up until I know. Until I see her at the tips of my fingers.