The feeling you get the day after sending a letter, and you know there is no possible way that the recipient has received your message yet, let alone formulated time to write a reply, but you still get just a little hopeful when you hear the mailman drive by and rush out to the postbox a little too quickly and are disappointed by the pile of free coupons, bills, charity flyers, and a late Christmas card from Grandma Moses.
The noise of a faraway car driving late at night, or perhaps early in the morning, in that sleepy place somewhere between consciousness and dreaming where everything is warm and vaguely fuzzy. The remote sound of tires on asphalt speaks to a sense of curiosity – where are they going? Why so early? – but the blankets are so heavy, your eyes are so heavy, and before you can wonder anymore, the car is long gone and you are long gone, carving out a hollow place to rest in just a few hours more.
A sudden awareness that occurs during funerals that you are going to die, you are dying right now – your cells are shedding like snakeskin scales and your hair is turning silver and every moment is one less than before and you will never know which one is the last one because you won’t be around to count the grains in your hourglass anymore – and, somehow, this knowledge both sharpens and dulls the grief of saying goodbye, like a blade that loses all effectiveness once it’s already in your chest.
The empty feeling of having completed a good book, watched a great movie, listened to an amazing song, and knowing your own life will never match up to all the things you want it to be. It gets worse the more invested you are in the material and when it ends it’s like coming down from an energy high only to crash into the side of Reality Inc. and you wake up in the same crappy bed that you’ve been sleeping your same crappy life away in for the last fifteen years.
The sense of frustration when the perforated edge of your notebook paper doesn’t tear properly, ripping into the pristine white sidebar like a particularly vicious dog into flesh and, oh, you just can’t do anything right at all, can you?
The sudden jolt of seeing someone familiar in an unfamiliar place; a disorientation that comes when you see an office co-worker or your doctor or an old teacher in a place where you are not used to seeing them – in the grocery store, at the movie theater, browsing the library. Often accompanied by the sudden knowledge that this person has an entire life locked away behind doors you never even knew existed, but suddenly light has spilled out from underneath one of them and your fingers are brushing the carpet of a room full of ordinary secrets that have not been hidden, but have been kept from your eyes all the same.
The distant mumble of the television in another room, or perhaps up one floor, whose muffled voices are at first annoying and then comfortable, lulling away the loud silences of the night – the buzz of the streetlight, the hum of the fridge, the pulse of your own heartbeat – long enough to put a few hours away for dreaming.
The swift rush of perspective when you stare at the sky hard enough and see that it is not a flat plane but a curve, and that the clouds and stars are not level, but have depth; an incredible depth that has to be measured in alien terms because human sensibilities are just too little; a depth is so far beyond the scope of your imaginings that just staring is enough to make you go weak at the knees and lose your balance and as soon as that happens you have to look away just to feel normal again.
An unexpected desire to leave home – not forever – but just long enough to see something you’ve never seen before and to have something exciting to talk about when the neighbors visit because these tea parties are getting old and you can only stand to look at so many baby pictures.
A thoughtfulness that occurs when you’ve just had a long conversation and you’re going over it in your head, remembering all the lines that made you smile and you’d like to keep for those grey days when you need a bit of sunshine and abruptly realizing that when he offhandedly mentioned that you seemed happier, you are. You really are.