Monday, June 18, 2007

Quantum Moments

I can see you
Your brown skin shining in the sun
You got your hair combed back
And your sunglasses on.

--Don Henley, The Boys of Summer

When you reach through the hallways of your memories, do you feel them? Your fingertips might touch warmth in the darkness, or gravelly confusion, or a prick of pain. But there are some moments which break the rules. Some moments bleed far beyond the handful of seconds containing them. Those are the quantum moments, opening you, defining you. They exist in the past, present, and future at once. Somehow, they touch you, and once the sensation is felt, it endures and helps to shape every person you will ever be.

Here are some of mine:

*Wrapped in darkness along a wooded cemetery road. I was reading Tarot Cards by candlelight for two friends, one who had never been to a cemetery at night. I said to him, "can you feel that?" It was all around us. Some kind of electricity. So alive. I looked for it in his face, but all I saw were nerves and questions. "No," he finally said.

*Spring Arts weekend at college my freshman year. My wife and I were dating a few weeks. The campus was kicked back, dreamy, and free. The two of us drank a bit and crept out into the well-to-do streets of Lancaster in the wee hours. I remember keeping to the shadows and sitting by a pool house on a large estate. We left no trace we were ever there, but it left a mark on me.

Care to share any of your quantum moments?


Jaye Wells said...

Sitting alone at night on a beach in Grand Cayman, freshman year of college. As I watched the pale moon hang low over the water, I was overcome with a sense of ... well, I'm not sure what it was. One of those moments of clarity, when I felt my potential so strongly it brought tears to my eyes. I felt so small, yet so powerful at once.

Anonymous said...

Sleeping on a bench in the cold and rain of Manchester, New Hampshire.

Walking to my place, hand-in-hand in the orange sun of the afternoon in Fall.

Hm, I don't know, they are the sort of thing that are hard to think of on the spot.

Anonymous said...

Jaye, a beautiful moment. I can relate. :) Thanks for sharing it.

Trevor, not bad at all for thinking on the spot. Being on that beach must have been a powerful mix of senses: the sound of the sea, the wetness, the cold.

Anonymous said...

As a teenager, sitting on a boulder in a birch forest, I used to ponder who I am. The autumn sky was deep blue against the treetops. I can still feel the joy that bubbled inside me-- simple joy of being alive.

Another moment of clarity was sitting in my dorm room with a certain young poet who laid out his tarot cards with a ring and a cemetary stone. I'll always remember the rush of my senses with the thought "I've found him..."


mermaid said...

Rolling down the hill at Golden Gate Park, having a picnic, celebrating my 10th birthday with my family. I was drinking 7up out of one of those 6 oz soda cans. I felt as if they were made just for me, a girl not able to finish a 12 oz can of soda, but able to finish every last drop of a 6 oz'er. The day was simple, life was simple, I was simple.

Climbing the rocks out to the end of The Wedge at Balboa Beach, watching the moon ascend in her white robes to bear witness, to judge my sincerity in love as I sat by a young man who is now my husband.

Watching a single tear roll down my daughter's soft cheek and land on my hand as I held her bottle and sang 'Answer' by Sarah McLachlan to her.

Anonymous said...

Miranda, there are new rocks and new trees and new opportunities to sit and listen. As for that night, I'm sure he remembers the intensity with which you watched him.

Mermaid, the first moment is such a pure joy. The third is stunning. She must have an uncanny depth to be emotionally touched by music so young. I know you will always treasure that moment

W J said...

It was my first visit there, now a bit over 40 years ago.

I walked out late at night a considerable distance into the dark, from the house on the poor dairy farm, in the magnificent Driftless Region of sharp hills and deep, spring-fed gorges in southwest Wisconsin, where the woman who had invited me there had grown up with her parents and nine siblings.

As a city boy, I had never experienced the frightful beauty of night uncontaminated with manufactured light.

The sky was crystal clear. I looked up. I was immediately overwhelmed with the thick dust of close-packed stars raining real light through the night down on me. I gasped for breath. Unable for a long time to stop staring upward, I uttered softly with uncharacteristic reverence and over and over again profane expletives with a name for the divine force that, I was compelled to think, must have had some hand in all of it.

On the walk back to the house, I realized this must have meant something special about my visit to the place and my relationship with the woman who had kindly brought me there. It did. The place is still special to me and my family. Barely two years later, the woman and I became life partners. Our children now also love the special starlight.

Many years after that first night I was asked by my partner's family to deliver an elegy at her father's funeral. Though he was financially poor all his life and not formally educated beyond high school, he was a consummate reader. The house was always packed with books. He had made himself a veritable expert on Shakespeare's plays. I had met him for the first time a few hours before I took that fateful walk.

So it came naturally to bid him farewell with with Juliet's paean to Romeo:

"... and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun."

Anonymous said...

An utterly brilliant reflection, WJ. I'm honored that you shared it here.

I've seen skies like that. Not often, though, and to this day they steal my breath. I can certainly understand the lines "pay no worship to the garish sun."

I hope to see you back. Do you have a blog or website?

Linda said...

Once during my teen years. I remember taking out the trash and looking up at all the stars and seeing a meteor shower. I was felt so alive and full of excitement!

Recently I sat down in the chair in the bedroom. A new mother once again. It has been 11 years since I held a newborn of my own. My mind racing with what the future holds for April and pondering what my teens think of having a baby sister and all of lifes struggles. Thinking how weird it was I was a grandma and a new mom at the same time. I never breast fed my other 4 so this was all a new experience for me. I look down and at that moment April opened her eyes, looked up and layed her hand on my breast. It was such a tender beautiful moment. I felt everything will work out.

AngelConradie said...

one of mine was the first time i look at a photograph of my little boy and realised how much he looked like his absent father. i knew he did- i just had never seen it before. he was bot yet 2, i was job hunting and stopped to have a sandwhich under a tree at the mall i was walking... i can see that moment so clearly in my head its like it happened this morning.

aminah said...

One of my quantum moments:

We would have slept out and we did despite the odds of us dying of hypothermia. Everything had turned itself out, including me. The year before I had lost my youth and there was nothing left to lose except the keys to the flat I was using as a safe refuge. But then as fate would have it I couldn’t stay anymore. The sour faced host was feeling used and wanted no more of my delinquent late night comings and goings.
He arrived on the scene in the nick of time. I don’t know how we got talking except that we talked past closing time and were forced to continue our conversation out on the street. It was late, but the weather was warm and the streets were full of people. We walked, talked and ended up at the beach. It was the first time I found out I could sleep so well in wide open places…and the memory of that night and his face has never left me...

Anonymous said...

Linda, tender and beautiful...perfect words. Thanks for sharing that feeling with us.

Angel, that one had to be very complex. I imagine the good of it endures.

Aminah, I trust the night lives on for him to.