The way water feels

It’s dry here, and it is almost all anyone can talk about. The weather is something we really care about now, no longer just small talk we make with strangers. We speak about stockpiling, how many liters can fit inside a car; how the ocean feels like hope; a way to change; a slap in the face. We track the greenness of the fields, look up at the mountains for some way out. A note I wrote to myself in a place so full of water the train stations were flooding says ‘The way out is through.’ And I was right even though my heart cracked like a 4-minute boiled egg. There is a catalog somewhere in my mind of all the things I learned in kitchens this past year. The way to scrape a knife under a pizza to check if its ready, how to heat up the mugs before filling them with black coffee. That it’s shameful not to know how to boil a potato at 22. And that it is possible to know the way it ends months before it will.

In my last week there, the Seine was flooded. Whole islands were under water. And I understood, because I was too.  Now the sun shines and steals all our precious water saved in buckets and I eat olives more than I should. We are moving apart so fast that soon it will be hard to believe it ever really happened at all.

I spend so much time with myself lately that I remember why I once thought this was something to be proud of. I read books I love and don’t tell anyone about them and I buy water in bulk at stores my mother discovered. Most days it feels like there’s nowhere to go, and I lie in the sun and almost forget that this time feels a lot like waiting for lightning to crack open the sky. All bated breath and endless seconds and forcing yourself to find something worthwhile in the anticipation. I’ve been keeping all the big things quiet and leaving space around who I am and what I’d like to be vast enough to get lost in. Somedays, my spine aches from holding me up.  I see water in everything, new ways to save ourselves from the break. We all do.

I’m coming out of it. Finding ways to look in the eye the parts I tried to avoid. You always find it in the last place you look. It was beautiful, even though all the buildings looked the same and no one wore bright colours. We stopped wearing them too.  Maybe it’s better there is no one left to explain any of it to.

Mentions of Paris come up in every book I read, and I miss the way the rain sat on my skin on days I took myself across the city to stand in front of art he wouldn’t like. It’s okay to make mistakes, but not the same ones. And who’s to say the lessons we learn are ever the right ones at all.

There are no words strong enough to describe the way falling out of it feels. The air is thick, and I know soon the rains will start. I am so far gone from who I felt like during that last rainy season. No longer drowning. No longer land-locked to something that always wanted to sink. I am floating, but it feels like sanity. There are so many ways out of this, I only have to choose to go.

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