Last night, the hills above Camp Pendleton caught fire, and so I was lulled to sleep by the sharp tang of burning brush, the earth around me blanketed for miles in smoke and ash.
As sometimes happens while the earth burns, I dream of water. Of the sea and the kind of angry, black storm that can only come in with the tide. I remember running through high grass, scrambling and desperate for safety, aware only of the electricity in the air, the thunder rattling my heart, a vision of my friends just ahead, nestled safely inside.
And, as sometimes happens when I dream of the storm, I also dream of Joe. He always comes from the horizon, walking in, never hurried, out of the darkness. I am realizing that this year he’ll been gone 10 years. In my dream, my friends in the house are all older. I am older. But Joe is still young and beautiful in the way that all 23-year-olds are beautiful. Just as I remember with his dark, curly hair and light eyes and placating smile. He offers me a hand as I watch the sky around me shatter. He offers a different path than the one I stumble to try and reach my friends. But I hesitate to take it. And why? And when I wake I wonder what it all means.
Why am I still dreaming of Joe?
We were never close, but instead enjoyed the kind of casual camaraderie that can only come from being near each other so often while also not really working to be friends, namely, being raised in the same neighborhood, attending the same schools one year apart, being babysat by the same women year after year after year.
But his presence was a light. He was kind at a time when more were cruel. And it was hard to see that beacon of goodness taken by a car wreck in the night.
And so today my world is still burning, the horizon thick and brown and charred, and I am remembering a time in my life when we were all young and everything was different. And I realize that the world now is just that small fraction dimmer without Joe in it.
So I think today I will work to be a light. To radiate. To burn the darkness out of my life in the only way I know how. Namely with yarn and hook and a bit of creativity. And perhaps eventually something good will grow to help lighten the small, dark corner of my heart Joe once kept bright.
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This amigurumi daisy was made freehand using a US 7/4.5mm crochet hook and small amounts of acrylic yarn.