Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year

I don't fancy myself much of a nature person. I'm not outdoorsy. I don't go camping. I don't hug trees, save the whales or shop only for local and organic goods. The closest I ever got to anything like that is whenever I have a pang of guilt throwing away those plastic rings that hold soda cans together. I'll remember reading in Highlights or seeing something on TV when I was a kid about how animals choke when they get all tangled up in those rings, so you should always cut the rings or some such. So I'll reach for the kitchen shears.

I say all this because, even though I'll probably never go all Thoreau and just up and "Walden" my ass out into a cabin in the woods, it doesn't mean I'm not sentimental about nature. I don't know, it sometimes surprises me how much something minor or subtle cue from the natural world will make me slack-jawed with awe. True awe in all sense of the word. Most people think "awesome" just means...well, awesome, but forget that besides denoting wonderment and amazement, awe also is a feeling of fear. A fearful respect of something that amazes you so that it transcends words or comprehension.

A couple of weeks back I was taking out the trash. I live in a particularly suburb-y and residential part of Astoria. On one side bordered by the ConEd power plant that hums quietly into the night, only making me notice its presence late at night when the humming stops, and lying in bed I realize the silence I had been hearing up until that point was not silence at all. On the other side, rows and rows of houses that spread out and with the neighbors I rarely see thanks to my schedule and its evenly packed streets still seem quieter and lonelier than the quiet self-satisfied humming of the power plant.

Usually I end up taking out the trash late at night, making it an experience in trying not losing my nerve and making sure I leave the door open behind me so that I may run in in case any bogeymen bursts from around the that I think about it, after the dumpster jump scare in "Mulholland Drive," taking out the trash was never the same for me (WARNING: Spoiler for those who haven't seen the film, though I have no idea how you could spoil this movie when you can't figure out what the fuck is going on the first time you watch it. And also warning, because seriously, dudes, it'll freak you out).

Anyhow, on such a night I again found myself stepping out alone into the quiet sidewalk, but something was different. It was dark, yet everything was illuminated. So bright, yet not. There was just a glow about everything. I looked up into the sky to see a full moon beaming down on all of us. But it wasn't just the moonlight. Thick tufts of clouds had broken in the sky, almost framing the moon. It acted like a gel on a stage light, amplifying and softening at the same time. And at the same time, the light of the moon highlighted all the depth and crests of the clouds, illuminating and shadowing to show perspective. How some clouds were closer and lower, layered in front of those further away.

I stood there just looking up at the sky for the longest time. I almost wanted to sit down on the steps leading to my door and just watch the moon all night. Part of me marveling at the sight, another part of my afraid that if I turned away the big round moon would swallow me up to its other side. It was beautiful and I was afraid because it made it jarringly clear I was alone not just against the great dark expanse up there, but also in the dark street corner down here. And I think ultimately, what scares me is what makes me sad. It's not movies filled with hacking of bodies and screams of nubile, but I guess a certain melancholy and despair about existence.

Like the moon that night, there are a few things about nature that can give me pause. One are still summer nights, because they always take me back to when I was younger and my summer break would finally overlap with the summer break of my friends who went to Korean school and we'd attempt to make the most of this eclipsing of our worlds. We'd sit outside and try to hold the night at bay with our endless talking. Or how quiet it'd be in the late night/early morning as either I'd start walking home or curl up to sleep on the couch to sleep at my friend's house after a group of us had gathered for another marathon weekend session of playing survival horror games. I may not like summer's heat or its sun, but every now and then the smell of one of its still nights will put me in that mood again.

And then fall. It's the twilight of the year. In Korea, they used to say that fall is the season of of loneliness, and I agree with that. Winter too is lonely, but it is too harsh and cold. It is hardened by bitterness so that the lonliness doesn't bit as hard. Spring is saccharine with its budding feelings of love, summer is hot and swept up in passion, but fall is fading. Demeter again sends her daughter away to languish in Hades with a god disliked and shunned by people and other divine ones alike.

Again, it's the smell of the air. Not just that it's colder, but how it's crisper. Anyhow, tonight has been one of those nights when I could smell that difference. It's been getting progressively cooler and I feel fall coming over me. With the window open I can smell it, and hear it in the rustling of tree leaves, and I am sad. At the same time this sadness comes with a bit of excitement, and with excitement your pulse quickens and that's one of the symptoms of fear and I've come full circle with it. I'm not particularly afraid of anything I suppose. If anything, I feel like there's so much that can happen, but I guess maybe that's what I'm afraid of. The smell of the open air and the sounds of the window signify something wide and open that I don't know, that I can't comprehend. And like that glowing, low-hanging moon I am reminded that I am in awe because I am amazed and I'm afraid.


Ah, I guess I'm in one of those moods again. Ha, what can I say, it's becoming fall, right?

I've been debating whether or not I should buy The Path already, and that game probably would just add to this weird seasonal feeling. I'm also a little afraid about the prospect of playing that on my own.

It might be a chicken or the egg type of thing, but I've been in the mood for Okkervil River quite a lot lately. Or maybe listening to Okkervil River is putting me in this mood. But as I walk around in the cold early morning air or walk home in the evening I catch myself humming "For Real" to myself quite a bit.


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