The Wind at My Feet

The Wind at My Feet[1]

Birds soar below me, spiraling on updrafts, their tail feathers spread, wings extended.  Large birds, probably condors, or perhaps just gallinazos; sometimes doves, or even brightly colored wild parrots reveling in their own backyard.

Cloud tops tickle my feet as they travel from the glaciers above me to the valleys below, settling in comfortably for a while before the sun chases them away, … for a while.

Heavens brush my fingertips as I try to touch a blue so pure it pulls at my soul, and so close I can almost sense its feathery touch.

In the distance, sunlight shines brilliantly off the snow and ice that shelters the pearl of the Andes and its three friends, los Nevados del Cisne, de Santa Isabel and del Tolima, playing atop the ridges spreading from the east, to the west and the south.  Hiding and seeking with the clouds and the fog.

Winds play around me as well, singing in their melodiously hollow voices, “wooooooo” and “shwooooooo” and “oooooooooooo”, like the music now long grown baby Alex once made when he cried, a sound too beautiful to deny; without a trace of anger or reproach, just a beautiful plea for something important to him at the time which he usually quickly won.

The winds: all seeing as they circle their world, sometimes warm and gentle, sometimes dry and freezing, sometimes furiously sodden, but always circling, watching; whispering or wailing, but always talking.  What are they telling me?  Is it presumptuous of me to think it’s me they’re talking to?  Do they even know I’m here?  Do they care?

Many, many years ago, I bought my first couch.  I was very poor then so it was a sleeper couch, a Castro convertible spiraled in blues and greens.  Not really my choice; Susan picked it out, and she loved it, and when we were done with each other eight years later, she kept it, as she kept everything else, even a part of my heart.  Now, many, many years later and relatively poor again, my life is again spiraled in blues and greens, but this time traced in whites and grays, tinged with silver and gold and, as day drifts into night, highlighted with sunsets of crimsons and ambers and greens, all traced in myriad shades of blue, fading to indigo: the patterns of my mountains which shelter my city in the sky.  This time they’re mine and very difficult for anyone to take.  On the other hand, they belong to anyone who cares to love them and all of us in this celestial city love them.

Strange that after so many years, after so many decades, I find myself back where I started; the place I never sought to leave and always longed for, the place my soul clung to while my body traversed the world, perhaps as a sensory organ for the divine, gathering data and experiences for purposes that seem hard to fathom sometimes.  But my mountains are so different now; still almost unbearably beautiful, but so very changed.  And I, of course, am changed as well; so much sadder than I once was, seemingly in perpetually melancholy but perhaps also somewhat wiser.

I’ve picked up and lost so many important pieces along the way.  Sometimes carelessly, less frequently deliberately, sometimes, … I just don’t know how.  Diana, the goddess of my youth, the brilliant beauty queen who taught me so much and so little.  And Susan, dear sweet Susan, incredibly talented Susan; frightened insecure Susan.  I wonder how she is.  I’ve wondered for so long.  And dear dazzling delightful Vicki, sparkling sunshine in human form, now gone so long.  And Cyndi, a sweet dream turned dark, now gone.  And the others whose offers of love I didn’t understand and certainly didn’t appreciate or respect in the manner they deserved.  And today’s wonderful but confusing women, offering to share love I still can’t fathom and for now, can’t accept: when will they be gone?  Will I finally miss them then, when it’s too late?  Will there ever be, in some fantastic someday, someone I can love again in the present, someone with whom I can share a love forever and with whom my heart will finally be at rest?  Someone who’ll complete me and fulfill me, like mirrors facing each other staring into infinity.

I gaze around me and realize how much I have.  Less than I once did it’s true, but much more than so many others, than so many more deserving others.  And I realize I’m wallowing a bit in self-pity.  Still, I seem to have grown used to the echoing hollow at my core, almost as though it were an old friend.  It seems my heart and soul can’t help but stray somewhere my body’s just left; fleeing to a world of memories leaving my body and mind lonely and alone to face new realities, creating new memories which, in their turn, are destined to also flee someday.  I miss my sons much too much.  I can’t believe they’re no longer here with me.  But they’re safe, and bright, and growing; now starting to learn to soar on their own.  What more can a father ask?

Grasses greener than the redundantly verdant greens of the high Andes are possible only in a metaphor but perhaps only in a metaphor can I now find anything more meaningful than the things I’ve already loved and lost, the cost of living in a world I can’t see or understand, where illusions seem the only reality.  Still, the glimmer of dawn reflecting off the snowy crest of the towering Nevado del Ruiz from my window as I awake renew hope every morning; and, … who knows just what this day might bring.

[1] © Guillermo Calvo Mahé, Manizales, Colombia, 2008, all rights reserved.

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