by Johanna Kumpula
What do you see?
I see white blanketing the frozen ground like a mother tucking in a child. I see green and grey giants towering above the Earth like soldiers protecting their land. I see the world around me dancing as the wind steals the cold and ushers it towards the mountains but most importantly, I see a home. The home I grew up in, chasing dragonflies and skinning knees, laughing with friends and screaming into the void. There’s an old rope swing tied to the tree in the middle of the yard. I used to fly up into the sky and chase the birds on that swing, only to come crashing back down into a reality that has yet to live up to my expectations.
Perhaps it’s less about what I see and more about what I don’t. I don’t see my friend’s here anymore, they’ve all moved on to warmer places and greener pastures. I don’t see the snow like I used to, when it would get so tall we could jump off our second story deck and sink down to our shoulders and drown in it. And I’m starting to forget the magic. The magic that made me chase fairies through the forest and let me talk to the birds and squirrels. The magic that helps me forget the pain I’ve felt in this home. The magic that kept me afloat.
What do you hear?
I hear birds singing their solemn songs. I hear cars driving down the road toward a destination unknown. The same wind whistles through the trees and children are laughing down the street. I hear my mother in the house behind me, cooking dinner and singing along to Christmas songs and I hear my heart beating in my ears. The world is so loud when you open yourself to it.
It’s funny, how much you can hear when you resign yourself to silence. It’s as if the world around you continues to shift while you become still in a moment of sound. Hearing has always been important to me – music, laughter, and stories – things that hearing affords you the opportunity to enjoy. It’s relaxing to listen to those around you, to hear only what they want you to hear and to not listen to the voice in your head telling you this or that. It seems as if we need to get better at listening, to focus on what others want to tell us and not on ourselves. Perhaps that’s why people talk to themselves because at least then they have someone who hears them.
What do you feel?
I feel cold. The air out is chilly and infiltrates my lungs whenever I breathe in. I feel as if I’m constantly moving even though I’m sitting still as if the world is shifting and taking me with it. I guess it is. I feel like I’m present and absent at the same time. I know where I am and why I’m here but I feel lost like I’m traveling through the woods and took a wrong turn before I ever came close to my destination. Yet I feel happy as if getting lost was the plan all along. Maybe it was. Maybe I was meant to take a wrong turn and ended up in some parallel dimension where I’m not who I was originally.
Most importantly, I feel at home. At home in the body I was born into and the mind I have cultivated. At home on the land, I grew up on with the same spirits and magic that have always haunted me. At home with myself and the people I’ve surrounded myself with.