The other day, when I was driving home from Sussex, I saw a squirrel dash across the Garden State Parkway – across five lanes of speeding traffic – to the other side. He scurried amongst leaves and shrubs safely and smile spread across my face. I wish I had that kind of daring and tenacity.
Sometimes, in the morning when I am driving to the high school, I scan through the radio stations. Inevitably, the dial lands on Bible Thumper radio, which features men who sound impossibly old, who gasp out sermons of fire and brimstone, demanding that we all repent. I like to leave the station on for a minute or two because I like the eeriness that fills the front of my car. The streets are usually deserted, my dying, dim headlights lighting on nothing but pavement and painted white lines. The change that lies discarded in one of two cup holders and clangs irritatingly around in the space as I drive is the only other sound. It is not comforting; it is unsettling, but I enjoy it all the time. I suppose that makes me weird.
More and more, I am realizing that the more things change, the more they truly do stay the same. My belief – or faith? – in a common human thread is affirmed on a daily basis. Human beings may age physically; hair may grey, joints may weaken, and lines may form, but emotionally, they can be as childish and as whimsical and romantic at seventeen as they can be at ninety-seven. That knowledge, that possibility, gives me hope and makes me smile time and time again.
Lately, I am becoming more and more obsessed with romance. I worry that this could be dangerous; dangerous to myself, to those around me, and to my writing endeavors. To make this obsession more of a contagious disease, enjoy the following passages from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Also, please note that I have booked a hotel room for Salem, Massachusetts. At least I make good on some promises.
“’Because,’ he said, ‘I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near to me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land, come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapped; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you—you’d forget me.’”
“’I tell you I must go!’ I retorted, roused to something like passion. ‘Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong!—I have as much soul as you—and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal—as we are!”