from my paper journal, december

I don’t feel quite so disconnected, a month later.  2011 is a new year.

December 20, 2010

Nearly five months since leaving Botswana, and I still feel as though I’m living in a dream.  As though I never really lived there, D’kar, that small village marooned in the endless Kalahari.  I have to pinch myself as a reminder, every once in awhile.  YES!  IT HAPPENED!  Those two years were not a hallucination.  I wonder if everyone else feels this way, too:  detached from their past.  Drowning in irrelevancy.  Searching for an anchor.

Thinking this, I look across the beat-up cafe table to the empty chair opposite me.  The thin spokes of the back are coming away, slightly, from the curved board at the top.  The wooden pegs holding the chair together are blackened where they have accumulated the grime of a thousand occupants, and seem unusually sharp and clear.  This, at least, is real.  The irregular wood grain and rounded chair legs.  Someone once spilled black ink on the chair and it still speckles the wood.

If I stop to notice small details, will I be more grounded in reality? On Saturday night I noticed everything, the sound of music and chatter just as vivid as the clinking of ice in my glass.  All of these distinct vibrations, making the hammer and anvil clatter against each other in my ear, the stapes shivering in time, quite literally the skeleton of sound.  Cochlea and then cortex.

I pay these small things their due, thinking:  here is something I know to be true.


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