Time, all the way up here, stretches. Moments reaching forward and moments reaching back, connect. Suspended in the present. Moving forward. Webbed and so enmeshed that you cannot see where one begins and another ends. But moving.
And you can feel it. The passing of time is constant, as it is everywhere. But here, it stretches like it doesn't anywhere else, I know. Following its rhythm, it hums. It arcs in elated moments of sensation and lulls in quiet moments of contemplation. It stalls and empties, swells and fills.
Before, I felt time like was like a sucking, a stuck-ness that swallowed me. A moment suspended, quicksand that moved but kept me entrapped and sinking.
But, this time, I anticipated coming home with a lightness. For the first time, in, ever. Not because I hate where I come from. No, I love my home. But, because home was a dichotomy for me. A place of pride, and a place of pain.
The tundra or the snow.
The water or the ice.
The houses on stilts.
The dirt roads that were in perpetual loops in and around town, forever leading into another.
But never away.
The sun intensely present and within a few shifts of the season, entirely absent.
But beyond all of that, I knew and felt that home was a connection to my heritage. It grew and sustained me while persisting as a place that cut me, wounded and deep, at the core of my spirit.
It dizzied me, trying to make sense of the two. Faint moments of confusion, exhaustion and loss characterized my life from age three until I was able to focus into a kind of remembered consciousness.
But, there was a time, in my very early life, remembered in a very few softly-light moments, where I felt joy. I was very young and very new to the world. My mother played with me and I was happy.
By five, I felt like there was an extra layer of skin stuck to me. It was tight and anxious. It knee-jerked in reaction to the slightest hint of danger and constantly percolated boiling emotions of fear that could easily erupt into protective displays of anger. Displays of anger that would rattle most adults.
I felt like I could be attacked at any moment. Always ready to protect. I learned early on that this part of me was not acceptable to most people. Most people were frightened. The part of me that protected me, frightened others. I was powerful in those moments. And I learned to hide it.
From most. Everyone but those closest to me.
I channeled that energy into school. But at home, I let go of the emotions that I worked so hard to keep hidden in public. I let all the fear I was feeling, out. And it wasn't peaceful. It was painful and what my family saw and felt was anger. I pushed them away, afraid even of showing them my pain, my wounds. I didn't trust anyone. And the best way to hide fear or pain is to be angry.
Through out middle school and high school I dreamed of death. Day-dreamed and thought constantly about dying. I couldn’t control my emotions and I wanted out. I didn’t understand why I was stuck in this quicksand of hellish pain as I saw my emotions erupt and affect those closest to me while not feeling like I could control the eruption. I hated hurting other people and thought, if I could just go and stop all this pain, it would be better for everyone.
I cried constantly. But no one knew. By that time, I was a star pupil and one of the highest achievers of my age in town. I was on the swim team for years. Took first in regional spelling bees year after year and by 7th grade had won state science fair for creating my own fuel cell. The more I succeeded outside, the more I felt I was losing my grip on my life inside.