I’m transfixed by the sight. They loom over me. I want to reach out to them but I’m tiny and insignificant with arms too short to traverse the space between us. They rise over the horizon tall and majestic, varied in hue and shape and size. There’s an imperiousness to their grandeur and their heft. They are immobile yet changeable with the shifting cloud’s caress. Some reflect the dawn’s pale pallet and the end of day’s bright glare while others remain dense and stark, unfazed by any movement of light.
I envision hope and determination and purpose swirling around them not unlike multiple lanes of traffic crisscrossing over and under and around on elevated highway exchanges. And I’m drawn to them, my spirit and soul pulled closer and closer, wanting to join in, to let the swirling wash over me until I am one with the flow.
My spirit rises with anticipation of their mystery and I feel alive just to be in their shadow. They call to me with some indefinable promise of unknown adventures; unknown paths to take and challenges to be conquered.
When I see them at night, they confuse the senses. Their shapes are both intensified and vaguely indefinite against the night’s backdrop. A backdrop punctuated by neon, taillights, headlights, lamps on tall streetlight poles and the erratic checkerboard of interior lights left burning after the five p.m. exodus has left those tall structures empty.
My memory takes me back to the days I did touch them; the days I stood in their halls and breathed their air; the days I braved the frantic pace that engulfed them in life each morning and the weary escape that left them behind each evening.
I had been drawn in by their promise and it was a full life that took strength and verve if I wanted to scale their heights. Eventually, though, it all became not much more than office politics. I felt no further promise there and tired of the heights, I merely wanted to emerge whole. I left those highrises behind and set out to discover the me I would be apart from them; apart from the siren call of big city living.
These days my life’s tasks generally take me speeding past those behemoths, those skyscrapers that appear to me to be like sentinels guarding the way. But I never pass without thinking, I know how you feel, those of you who enter their domain daily; I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there, I’ve lived that life. I know what it’s like.
The intervening years between then and now have taken me other places and on a different journey and while I wasn’t looking, time ebbed away and now there’s a part of me that feels incapable of scaling their heights once more. That is, until I see them again and then the old flame ignites. There’s life here, it signals to me. There’s excitement and purpose here, it whispers in the rush of air flowing past my speeding car.
But I don’t detour. I continue along the concrete path that winds past downtown and the business centers, past the shopping centers and the factories and industrial areas and off the freeway’s paved canyon into suburbia’s land of houses and gas stations, churches, schools and grocers on the corner. Into the land that was my Father and Mother’s life; into the alley behind their house and into their garage and on into their house I go, closing the door behind me. This is my life now and I determine to continue here, to engage in this journey, this challenge. But down inside, the flame is still lit and its warmth reminds me that I can be in both worlds. The choice is mine. There will be time once this task with Mother ends. There’s a journey still ahead.
“You made it safe?” Mother calls from her island of sameness at the dining room table, surrounded by familiar things, some treasured and some worthless yet hoarded rather than tossed out.
“Yes, Mother. I’m here.”