On Love and Florence

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I can feel Florence in my bones.

As she is spinning toward the Carolina coast, she is reminding me of the vigor with which I would insist my body should spin across the gray plastic floor in pink leather shoes. My hips are bending, throwing themselves forward with the force of a Category 4.  When I move to see the rain on my window, I can feel Miss Deborah pull at the toes in my left foot, curving my stubborn arch until it looks beautifully unnatural, like twisted umbrellas on an empty beach.  As the storm pushes towards the coast, I can feel my toes push effortlessly forward as I stretch across the living room floor and grin shyly from underneath my hair.  I can hear my grandma exclaim with pride at my long legs, my aching legs, my long aching legs.  The wind swirls and rips my knee from its roots, no cartilage left after years of water damage and grand jetés.

As the tide rises and falls, I can feel the conch shell, the one from my great grandmother, falling from high on the top shelf, falling with the tide onto my toes, shattering and slicing my skin.  The shell of my great Grandma Shell, the irony and beauty, falling flat with pain from six feet above, breaking my foot but not the pink skin of the pink crustacean. The pressure of the system pulls in and out like a storm surge on the bones in my foot, pin pointing the joints that were ripped apart by the shell, reminding me of the blood, and the stitches, and the embarrassing prom photos.  Accidents always seem to find me, like water finds cracks in the foundation.

Florence crashes into the shore, and we crash into a car.  I don’t remember the collision, but I remember the glass, and my face is covered in a burning powder from the impact, dusty like the sand that the hurricane has blown onto the boardwalk.  I can feel the water swirling in my right arm, the arm that fractured the space between myself and the car door.  My head aches with the memory and the smell of burnt fear.

As the rain clouds move west, I am running, or my memories are.  Three miles, three times a week, and I can feel the pressure in my right shin. The break still new and fresh, barely healed from last winter.  Each rain drop on the East Coast can be felt through my leg, like a flood of heat, echoing the 6,200 steps I pounded through in determination on an almost shattered leg. It screams with the indecision of my choice to weather the storm, of my pertinacious refusal to quit my first race.  I ache with the damage, but bend with the wind.

I have memories in my fingers that throb when it rains, and scream as Florence heaves each sigh.  They have spent years flowing from my hands onto keys, onto pianos and computers, telling stories through songs, and memories through stories.  My fingers are young, but the weather is warning me of the time I have had.  I have memories in my head, hiding behind my eyes, and putting pressure on my teeth, my nose, my cheeks.  There are so many memories, my head might explode with the pressure of the storm.

In a few days it will be quiet.  I will stretch my rested legs, and bend my rested fingers.  The pain will recede with the clouds and my memories will spill out of my eyes, my fingers, like water from a storm drain, floating along slowly past my resting self.  I will let them go, knowing the proximity they always keep.  You can never get rid of water damage.  The sun will rise, and my joints, my sinuses, my bones will dry.

It will be time to rebuild again.

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“I said who am I, to blow against the wind 
I know what I know, I’ll sing what I said 
We come and we go,
That’s a thing that I keep, in the back of my head”

-Paul Simon

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