Thursday, 29 September 2011

Eyes Wide Open

The light is always gold this time of year. Have you noticed that? And when you look into those Midas rays, the air is alive with bees darting from sapped flower to sapped flower, hunting the last dregs of pollen; the leaves are being gently shaken from the trees like a lady ruffling her skirts; chestnuts are falling; acorns are dropping; shadows grow longer.

I hold my hand to the sun and shield my eyes, I spread my fingers wide, and let this soft gold warmth seep through my cracks and fill me with light


Yesterday I shouldn't have.

But I did.

I woke up to the sound of every anxiety, every responsibility, every clenching worry lasciviciously whispering in my ears. Demanding I pay attention to them. Forcing me to my knees in the shower because the burden of shouldering that disquietude was too heavy that day.

So I left.

I took a day off for myself when I really couldn't afford to do such a thing.

Such a selfish thing.

But I did.

With my book and a bottle of water I headed to the one place in Bern that feels like it belongs to me. That no matter where I end up in the world, I will always be able to call forth this one location that helps my mind stop its restless wandering. In the gardens of the Muenster I stretched out on a green high-backed bench and submerged myself in that effervescent buoyancy of this autumn gold. I honked with laughter over my book, I listened to conversations around me and tried to pick out familiar words, and I closed my eyes to try and let the light tunnel through those dark places of my mind.

As I sat alone, an older man enquired in jovial French if he may share my bench with me. I can't understand French, but I imagine that's what he was asking me as he made a sweeping gesture of my seat. I nodded and pulled my knees up to my chest to allow him room on the bench, then I resumed reading my book. He removed his suit jacket and brushed the seat before carefully laying his jacket over the bench and sitting down. His laced feet tapped with a nervous rhythm and I felt irritated that he'd infringed on my needed solitude.

He began speaking again, but I shook my head to let him know that I didn't understand him. And of course, he then broke into stilted English, because don't let anyone tell you otherwise: everyone can speak English over here.

"From where are you?" his raspy voice asked.  The breeze ruffled his thinning black hair, and his tanned wrinkled hands were clasped together as his foot still tapped.

"I'm from Canada," I replied in a voice more clipped than it should have been.

"Oh! It's cold der. Der it's very cold. Yes?"

"Some places, yes," I agreed, "and some places, no."

"Yes, Canada is very cold. I have two...TWO," he shouted louder than he meant to--holding up two fingers, "coo-ZINS living in Canada. Two coo-ZINS. Yes."

"Oh." Then I averted my gaze back to my book hoping he'd leave me alone.

"Canada is big, no?"

I'm ashamed to admit that I let a sigh escape before I responded. "Yes, it is very big. Very, very big."

"Land is big, bigger than America. People is smaller."

"That's right," I acknowledged. Then he dug around in his satchel and pulled out a notebook and shuffled down the bench to show me. In his book he had recorded countries in descending order of land mass,  Russie of course being at the top of his list and Canada in second position, with land area recorded next to each country.

"Here," he said proudly, "Canada." He pointed to my country's dimensions and I was really baffled by this random list in his notebook, and looked into his brown eyes for the first time. 

"Why do you have this list?"

"Hmm?" he asked, smiling brightly. "I not understand."

"This list, are you a teacher? Are you studying geography? I'm just curious."

"I sorry, I not understand. My English, I just learning. I not teacher, I Rolex." And then he tapped his watch to point to me that he makes watches.

I sat back against my bench and looked at this curious, curious man who apparently makes Rolex watches and carries around notebooks with random lists including (but not limited to) countries arranged by their descending order of land mass.

"You know Rolex?" he asked, confused that I didn't seem to understand.

"Oh yes," I said. "Very nice watches."

"Yes. Today I in Bern to learn." Then out of his shirt pocket he unfolded a letter on official Rolex letterhead, written entirely in French, and passed me the letter. "I learn more about watch masking today."

"Your letter is all French to me," I joked, handing it back and forgetting to be annoyed. He didn't understand the joke.

"Here, you like this Switzerland?"

"Yes, I like Switzerland very much. It's very beautiful."

"How you say? How you say? Bee..."

"BEE-u-TI-ful," I enunciated.

"Beez-u-tea-fil," he beamed. "I learn English, I learn English." Then from his satchel he pulled out another notebook and showed me pages and pages of handwritten grammar that he was trying to learn. He handed me a pen and the notebook, and without asking I added 'beautiful' to his language lesson.

"Tank you. Tank you." Then he stood up and carefully picked up his gray suit jacket and brushed off a fallen leaf. "Now I must go."

I looked up at him and shielded my eyes to the light. "Have a nice day," I said.

"Oh tank you! And please, have a beez-u-tea-fil day. A beez-u-tea-fil day."

And my entire being smiled.

I felt light.

Light, in all its connotations.

A wish for a beautiful day, which really is such simple thing. I thanked him, and he returned my smile. Then he shuffled away, out of the park, and I guess back to his watch making seminar. Or where ever it is that letter was instructing him to go that day.

Beez-u-tea-fil. Beez-u-tea-fil.

I studied my hands, cupped them to receive a pooling of that flaxen glow, and spread my fingers wide. I tipped my head back and opened my eyes to the sky, to the bees, to floating leaves. The light cannot tunnel through the darkness with closed eyes. They must be open.

Because the light is beez-u-tea-fil.

And comes in so many forms.


mom said...

What a beautiful post Cait! I could envision you sitting in the gardens by the Muenster and speaking to that gentleman. I'm glad that you enjoyed your day! Life is "beez-u-tea-fil"! Love mom

Ais said...

Thats really nice Cait!!!! Too bad he didn't reach back into his satchel one last time, and pull out a Rolex for you!!!! Haha, jk. Really enjoyed that post :)

Dad said...

This reminded me of your post where you were befriended by locals in a coffee shop while you waited out the rain. I can't speak for the gentlemen, but I imagine that he left your chance meeting feeling as refreshed as you did Cait.

mom said...

I have read this post at least 5 times Cait...I just LOVE it! It makes me feel so happy. Like Dad said, it reminds me of your meeting with the people in the coffee shop.

T said...

I love random encounters like that! It's a shame they don't happen very often...or maybe we are too annoyed with strangers invading our space that we miss out on them?

I absoultely love the line "And my entire being smiled"...mine smiled to just reading this post!

Thanks Caitie :)