I only know what they showed me on television. But you don’t know what that is either. It’s sort of like how you, one day, might want to feel what it’s like to fly. When you grow up, you’ll have bird families nesting on you. They’ll build their homes in your branches, and they’ll use the worms and caterpillars climbing down your spine to feed their young. And they’ll fly. They’ll fly around your topmost branches and even though you’ll be intimate with the wind, you won’t know what it will feel like to touch a cloud. But you’ll think about it sometimes. And maybe even wish for it. When you see the birds flying – that’s sort of how I think Christmas is. It’s a joyous thing that I’ve seen from far away. I’ve seen others stretch into it like it’s a habit, like it’s as easy as plunging off a branch and rising high into the blue. It’s not something they need to think about. But you and me, we have our roots in different places and no matter how hard we try to picture what it’s like up there in that space, we won’t be able to.
Someday, maybe you’ll learn the language of the birds. Maybe you’ll manage to talk to them. And you’ll ask them what it’s like to fly. That’s what I did. I asked what Christmas was really like. Not the pretend kind I saw from far away. But I don’t know if I ever asked the right question, not exactly. Because even if you’re speaking the same language as someone else, when your roots are in different places, can you be sure you mean the same thing when you say “always” and “regular” and “just”? Could you explain to the birds what it’s like to draw water from the earth?
I want to apologize in advance for having been absent from commenting. I have been writing a paper for my history course (Classic Greece) all day. And I mean all day. I woke up, ate, wrote, ate, took a brief break, wrote, ate, napped because of coming up all-nighter, ate, and now I’m writing this.
Funnily enough, my all-nighter has nothing to do with my course. No, it’s a voluntary night of studying that I’m spending with two friends. Today is Erev Shavu’ot, which is the eve of a Jewish holiday. I honestly don’t know very much about the holiday, except that it’s something to do with the harvest; that there’s a modern tradition of eating cheesecake during it; and that there’s an ancient custom of studying Jewish philosophy, lore and writings of several rabbis throughout the night.
My friends and I are taking the custom and making it OURS. We’re going to read each other poetry, study random Wikipedia articles, play instructive games, talk about philosophy, and generally make an intellectual pajama-party out of it.
Hope you all have a good Tuesday, and I’ll hopefully be back on schedule tomorrow!
Leaning out of the window, bringing in the laundry, hands touching the cold clothing hanging in the cold air, I catch a scent. Just a whif at first, and then the smell fills my nostrils, and I breath it deeply, tears gathering in my eyes. It’s the smell of latkes, this sort of potato-patty thing – it’s a traditional thing to cook during the Jewish holiday, Hannukah, which is ending tonight. Why is it that the enticing smell of fried potatos makes my eyes water? My father used to make them every holiday time, and when I was smaller and ate an even smaller variety of foods than I eat today, I hated the smell. Today though, it makes me hungry to smell it and cry to think that my father won’t ever make it again and I’ll never get to show him that I might like his cooking for once.
It’s incredible how smell triggers the memory, isn’t it? The smallest of scents blown into your nostrils from a tiny breath of wind can remind you vividly of a sumemr’s day when you got your first kiss, of a night of partying with friends, of a person you haven’t seen for a long time or of a place you miss and long to be in. It’s amazing, in my mind, how smells can bring up memories long forgotten or ignored.
Sniff away, then, I say – you may discover some feeling or time you hardly remember.