One of the first times I told her, I used the word aperture. I said it kinda looked like, or at least reminded me of, the old camera that my grandfather gave me the year I got into photography. I have since self-corrected, I’ve told her I don’t think it’s quite like that after all, but she keeps coming back to it. She keeps getting caught up on the wrong details.
When I told Pilot, he said, shit, how high were you? I told him I wasn’t, this always happened first thing in the morning. Ok, ok, sure, ok, he kept saying. But also, can I get some? I laughed, but then never brought it up again.
When I told Small, he just said, yeah, man, the world is infinite and beautiful and full of wonder, which reminded me what I so loved about him but also why I rationed out our hanging out together, little moments here and there with long breaks in between. A little bit of Small went a long way.
When I told Shotgun, I couldn’t tell if he believed me or not. It kind of seemed like belief had nothing to do with it, he just wanted me to describe what I saw so he could paint it. The first few times, I told him everything I could remember, trying to be as descriptive as possible, so encouraged by his interest and curiosity and total absence of doubt, but then it all started to feel too transactional and so I stopped. Every now and then he still asks and I tell him I haven’t seen any in a while. I can’t tell if he believes that or not either, but he doesn’t push it.
I haven’t told anyone at work, not because they would make fun of me and I don’t want them to slot me into the role of crazy co-worker, although they would and I don’t, but because they don’t deserve it.
I haven’t told my therapist either. I don’t want to apply that kind of interpretation or language or analysis.
Some of what I’ve seen: myself as a baby, what I somehow knew was the bottom of the ocean, a collage of snapshots of every time I’ve cried, the most beautiful firework explosion I’ve ever seen, myself as an old man, a time-lapse speedthrough of what my life might have been like had I not been given up for adoption, a technicolor version of the night sky with the lines of every constellation lit up and glowing like in neon, a perfect recreation of a dream I’d had the night before…
I know one day this will end. I know, too, that as soon as that happens, I’ll miss these mornings. I’ll miss my inability to convey what it is I’m seeing and feeling, I’ll miss being frustrated that Wendy can’t see it herself, I’ll miss being frustrated that she can’t feel it herself, I’ll miss her wanting to understand the impossible when understanding isn’t what it’s about at all.
I don’t know when that might be—days or week or months or years or more—but then, we will keep waking up early enough to catch those first moments just after sunrise and we’ll keep standing there together, looking up into the sky at what we see and what don’t, everything lit up with the promise and potential of a brand-new beginning.
Aaron Burch is a big fan of Rejection Letters and an even bigger fan of D.T. Robbins—like, it’s a little weird. Anyway, he has a novel coming soon about spending a year in the Wild West or something, I think. He’s probs drinking Four Roses right now.
image: Christine Naprava is a writer from South Jersey with a soft spot for photography. You can find her on Twitter @CNaprava and Instagram @cnaprava.