Expression at present is an interesting phenomena. For many people it comes in the form of clothing choices, others by what is posted to their multitude of social media accounts. Others find their mode in actions or choices taken on a day to day basis, whom they identify with, what they choose to study, how they choose to be represented. Many, like myself, find our solace in writing. We write experiences or ideas sometimes publicly sometimes privately with the ultimate goal of self expression. Needless to say there are always other consequences that derive from such simple action. For instance if I were to post a photo to instagram with the hope of capturing a particular feeling I am experiencing at present in an act of self reflection I may also receive acknowledgement and validation from a peer group that agrees or disagrees with whatever I was trying to capture or at least they find the image aesthetically pleasing. To create music, write code, run, swim, skate, study walk, soak in sunlight all have their own significant, albeit, therapeutic effects on those partaking in such practices. As noted before writing seems to be what I enjoy the most. So I guess without much further ado I’ll writing some more.
There are very few things that can capture emotion, sensation, and imagery almost as perfectly as music can. However, I shall try to recreate the same emotional experience that I indulge in while listening to music by putting such things into writing.
About a year ago I lived in a 2005 Toyota Sienna minivan. In fact that was the very reason for the inception of this blog. Since then of course life has continued its oneward ebb and flow and now I find myself in a library far and away from the van and wild areas American Southwest that I called home for a brief time. However, I do find myself frequently popping back into those moments of solitude by listening to the music that captured my attention while I lived a life on the road. Perhaps one of the most significant moments I had the luxury of experiencing was one particularly rainy down outside of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Petrichor. Heavy mist. The dark green and brown of indistinguishable trees as they blurred together at a distance of no more than twenty feet. Gray sunlight unable to pierce the shroud of mist but capable enough of making the lichen on the granite boulders appear to be a self illuminating phosphorescent green. The brown red of the lodgepole pine and the long languid needles of the ponderosa blurred all together.
Posted up, pinned between a cluster of tall skinny and dark pines as well as the silver gray of the van. Between the two I had strung my tarp. Anchored at 5 different points. Two on the van and two on the trees. In effect, creating a square of sequestered off sheltered space that allowed me to work outside while staying dry. The 5th point of contact was a line that was strung from the roof of the tarp up and over an outreaching tree branch that allowed me headspace enough to walk around under my shelter unimpeded.
Pulling out the silver and matte black folding table from the rear of the van, the stove and propane tank as well I set up a kitchen in my little forest shelter. The pitter patter of rain now becoming a constant in the quiet woods. On occasion the thunder would roll, breaking out in abnormal and grotesque ways from the pattern that my ears had grown so accustomed to. But the water I had put on the stove was starting to boil, the steam was clearly visible against the roof the green tarp.
The sticky smell of starch filled the air as rice was added and began to inflate as it simmered on the stove top. The sound of rain kept on, incessantly. Even when the sun cracked through the gray of the clouds and shown a white light down through the dark trees to the forest floor and my little encampment in the woods the rain kept on.
The rice and broccoli I was eating was a little too salty, but good nonetheless. The rain now was being ever so slightly drowned out by the music emanating from my speaker on the side of the van. I wish I could say I listened to something fitting for those mountainous conditions, something that did the lighting, the rain, and the fresh air justice but honestly I can’t even begin to remember what it was I was listening to that day. Nor can I really remember anymore details from those moments in the woods.
But I do remember the feeling. The feeling of calm, of excitement. The feeling of contentment and ambition. The gratitude for the rain and my situation. Paired with the smell of petrichor, those feelings were linked together to a place, a memory, that I will now go back to from time to time. And from time to time I’m lost in dark greens and grays, matte blacks, bright white light loud and breaking thunder, and salty broccoli.
“I have more memories than a thousand years.”