to fly, to leap, to soar

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Who’s traveled far and cries for rest?

– “Sparrow” by Simon & Garfunkle

 

A small house in southern New Hampshire, close to an airport. A record of someone playing the organ is blasting in the modest living room. In the center of the room is my father, holding my hands as he swings giggling toddler me round and round and round in the air like the blades of a helicopter or the hands of an old clock that is speeding furiously just to prove it can still tick or a raucous pas de deux between God and child, creator and created, his hands dwarfing my wrists as I fly over the carpet screaming with delight.

When I shared this memory with my dad he denied it ever happened. It could be a dream that I’m remembering, as many of my early dreams were about flying out of my bedroom and down the stairs like Peter Pan—because if you could fly, isn’t that the first place you would want to go, downstairs?

A less pleasant dream that frequently flittered into my head when I was a child showed me cowering in my bed as a gang of motorcycles growled down the road and pulled up in my house, their drivers dismounted and approached my house. With every repetition of the dream, they got further up our sidewalk until the knock on the door came one night and my parents answered it and I knew that they were finally coming to take me away from home. I have never had grotesque nightmares, but that one did terrify me.

After my first or second visit to Seattle, I dreamt again of flying. I was walking in a fantastical abstraction of Seattle, a caricaturized essence of the city. (It was also slightly cartoony, a la Legend of Zelda: Windwaker.) The dream was more or less me walking through this city that was built into the top of a cliff. There was a good café and a few other small shops I walked by or through. There may or may not have been a small dragon promenading around town. The sidewalk I was on slanted up until it was level with the top of the cliff, where it curved out over the edge of the cliff in a circular trajectory. After walking on this airwalk for a while—mind you, there was nothing at all beneath it—the pavement ended. I put my feet on the end of the pavement and fell forward into a dive and swooped down over the city above the roads I had just tread and woke up abruptly.Had the dream continued, I would have landed eventually, reached the bottom of the staircase, touched my feet to the carpet. Even for the birds, which are born to fly, flight is finite. So I guess the question is where do you land?

That is a question I’ll have to answer in a couple of years after my time at college and graduate school is over. But until then, I think I’ll just enjoy the ride knowing that there is a nest out there somewhere with room enough for me to stretch my wings and a birdsong chorus to wake me every morning.

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