When, after several days of sunny and clear weather, we suddenly have the lid back on again, I may notice in myself an instinct to hop up and scrape my palms against the clouds, as one does with the low concrete ceilings in parking ramps; to stir them, even (though I know it is futile, it would be not so much work as earnest play) to break them. Much as I lift my daughter up in our house and let her press her back up to the textured drywall ceiling; when we are outside I do not lift her so high.
It is the clouds, not the sun, that make me wish to fly. That I cannot touch them seems, at last, and still, very arbitrary. It is the old wish to be sure you are real, to be sure your hands and words can still change things.
The clouds divide me from other people — not because I am above and the rest are below, or vice versa, but because they actively interfere among us. A car behind me flashed its bright headlights at me, twice, to be sure I saw. And because I could not be sure what was wrong, I pulled off the freeway, and made two more rights into an elevated parking lot. The other car kept going; it made no move to follow or explain what it had done. I walked around my car and it was fine. I looked up at these clouds and I was angry that I had no time to stand and watch them, because to be safe in life, and so that I could be comfortable, I had traded that away. Maybe I could trade again and regain other hours than the ones I had given up but I wasn’t sure. If you trade right, you can absolutely go up and stir those clouds.
But I had no time, and that evening, without even stopping to eat after work, Jess and I traded even more time to borrow and drive a huge pickup truck an hour away over too-small back roads, appropriate for ourselves some material thing, and return. I thought, now is the time to tell her. I thought, we’re alone together, with nothing to do but listen. But the clouds sent down water in loud staticky sheets and rapped their knuckles all over the roof and windshield, and masked my words. The clouds divide me from other people — not because I am above and the rest are below, or vice versa, but because they actively interfere. Hold me at arm’s length, will you, and laugh as I swing my hands, unable to reach you?
My seat in this oversized white truck was so far off the ground, I might step on another car and hardly feel it; it was only my arbitrary, faulty attention that proposed that I would not smudge out the people to my right or left. It is when I am tired and my eyes hurt and my ears are filled with the echo of hail that I wish to touch, edit, and break and re-form my own mind; but when it is clear, I hardly know it is there.