Originally published on Anima Monday
It’s always the strangest sensation.
I look up from the 15-inch screen that has consumed my day, and remember that I exist in a physical realm.
I close the laptop, and take a moment to notice the sunlight pouring into my living room. I open the window, and take a moment to remember what air feels like upon my skin.
Have you ever noticed how artificial the world on our screen is? My emails are read in my own voice, and my screen is an ephemeral canvas, where strategies and thoughts that blossomed in my mind are translated into a series of pixels, saved, and filed away in space that doesn’t really exist. The vacuum of the internet. All imaginary.
The sunlight on my carpet isn’t imaginary. I watch as my cat stretches into the warmth, luxuriating in its presence. When I touch her, her fur is as hot as fire.
I wonder who we are, that we built such massive worlds of imaginary creation.
I wonder who I am, that I live in one.
The carpet curls around my toes like grass, and I wish for real grass. Outside my apartment, they have replaced the real grass with a plastic evergreen that hurts to stand on.
There are things that do not change, no matter which continent you live on. If you have a 15-inch screen laptop, there is nothing about it that changes. And if you have plastic grass outside your apartment, it will always look green.
I look then, for the things that change; and I look for the things that are different, based on where I live.
In California, the sun is shining, but the air is cold. This is winter. I keep my heater turned off as much as I am able, and every morning I awake to a chill upon my skin that whispers, “I am winter.” I am reminded of my cold winters in Germany and Wales, and I connect to my past selves.
Because the sun is shining, the leaves upon the trees are always green. But the bark at the bottom of the eucalyptus is fluttering like a thousand paper-thin petticoats, and the sound of it is like nothing else I have ever heard.
The wind brings with it the scent of the sea – wet and salty, moving through the thin air in a way that it cannot in the heavy heat of summer.
The cold – the trees – the sea – they sing to me of where I am, both in time and space. Winter, in California. They awaken my senses – and my senses remind me of what reality is. What this world tastes and sounds and feels like.When I was a child in Wales, I learned to gently tear bark strips from white birch trees, use them to write down wishes, and cast them into the river. Living in California, I learned to tear the strips from eucalyptus trees and cast them to the sea. Something about this has not changed. Something else about it has. I take the thing that has not changed, and re-connect it to the thing that has. Now the thing that once lived only in my mind, lives in this world too.
I carry my wish to the sea. My laptop seems far away. I remember who I am. With every step, my body speaks to me, and I remember; and I decide:
When I go home, I am going to lie in the sun with my cat.
(I think she has these questions figured out.)