03 November 2017


idyllwild, photo by nick serabyn

I'm a leaner by nature – give me a wall or a ledge or the ground and I will find a way to rest uneasily on it. I went climbing last weekend in Malibu Creek Park, where the sun shot hot rays on our shoulders, and my fingers blistered blood, and chubby smokers took pictures of us top roping with their phones, squinting through the glare of a 3 PM light. My back found a tilted boulder, a perfect spot to rest between climbs. Hand behind head, I closed my eyes. The hand feels so much, filters touches and grazes. Fingers can be the source of butterfly brushes, a tinge of touch so delicate, it requires attention to notice. It's odd to feel your hand rather than feeling things your hand touches. My palm falls asleep in cold tingles, electric blue pulses, cool under a pure blue sky. It's a blue I take for granted. It's a color so pure, I forget it exists until I open my eyes and it's all I see. I feel small but safe, and all at once relieved. A good hug does something similar to me. When I'm in your arms and my head fits perfectly in your neck,  I am overcome with the heaviness of being. And when you look at me, and your eyes reach my lips, there's this moment of limbo, of in-between, where anything can happen. That's a blue sky with no clouds in sight. 

I adjust my hand for comfort, sending shocks to my wrist. Sweat drips down my face from an indian summer sun, but my hand tingles blue. When was the last time I saw the snow? Actually went knees deep in it? I've hiked in Big Bear recently, but falling and slipping on dirty ice isn't what good-winters makes. We'd be in the car for hours, asleep, shifting uncomfortably. Usually I got stuck in the third row with the luggage and pillows falling on me every sharp turn. Hours of indian music and Kenny Chesney, and finally the windows fog over. I rest my cheek on there, the cold side of the pillow. I draw hearts that are never symmetrical. I write "Sarah Serrano" or just "Ambreen," testing a name to see if I fit it, to see if it fits me. Snow trickles the sides of the streets, dirty, black. A slow transition to white the further we climb up the mountain. We're getting restless, seeing all the powder. It's begging for deep footsteps, crunches, wet socks. Dad parks the car on the side of the road. He looks behind him at all the women in his life, breaks out a grin and starts running. We shove blankets, wrappers, pillows away, digging for shoes in the cave that a car transforms into during a long drive. Dad's prepping. I lunge myself over the back of the second row, spring open the door, racing my sisters across a field. And we're pummeled. My dad throws things. Launches. Pillows when we don't expect it, the bird when he's pissed on the freeway, and now packed snow. He was all around varsity at boarding school, and clearly hasn't lost his aim. Sofia's laughing the only way an 8 year old can: pure, unfiltered, unapologetic. Samira's cold. I'm digging my hands in, cupping powder into a shape that's anything but spherical. I hear mom's voice by the car, "Irfan, be careful!" We're all in this now, each on our own team, everyone missing throws too short to maim a loved one. Our hands turn numb and our teeth chatter. We gorilla hop back to the car. The heat is cranking. Pink hands hurt to move, hurt to warm up, though try as we do with the heater on max and blankets spread. There are some colds that only time and movement heal. Polar-bearing at camp, competing to out-time other girl scouts holding breath in winter mountain run-off. I never got passed 18 seconds. The swim in Catalina, jumping in the water and forced to swim to shore, shocked into shallow breath. It's a cold crush.The first quiet night after heartbreak. It's summer outside, and there's no air conditioning inside, but your fingertips are white-cold, and it hurts to take a deep breath. It hurts to get up to pee because his beard shavings still stick to the sink. It hurts to drown thoughts out with music, for every lyric ties back to him. No amount of oversized shirts or warm tears can break the electric numbness of a broken heart. Only time. And movement. And a drive through car wash. The mind cannot think of past-lovers while a hum surrounds a metal safety bubble, and giant sponges swish, water spurts, rainbows pop up in corners of the eye.