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Eyes Wide Closed

March 13, 2011

Lying on a blanket in the new, spring grass. The sun is hot on my face, but the breeze is cool, whisking away little beads of sweat forming on the tops of my legs. I’m in the middle of Atlanta, but I could be anywhere. The sun becomes a red haze through my eyelids when I close my eyes, and I’m a thousand years away. 

In a backyard beside a wading pool, lost in the endless stretch of summer months. Delirious from the heat and too many cherry popsicles. My sister’s poised at the top of a yellow, hilly slide we’ve aimed towards the water. I marvel at how good my hearing is when my eyes are closed, and I sigh as the Dogwood trees rustle.

And it’s sand dunes and oceanic white noise. And wet sand rubbing against my skin underneath my lavender bikini. Two teenagers lying side by side, parallel to each other for the shortest of times. Hot, suntanned hands, unmarred by worry lines or tattoos, holding on to each other at the edge of the world. Our closed eyes and wandering thoughts oblivious to the salty water trying to lick at our feet, lapping at the soaked edges of our cotton beach towels.

And I’m swaying in a hammock, on a slanted wooden piazza. The leaky, Victorian roof drips water on my toes after a Lowcountry thunderstorm. Charleston feels like a reigning queen of a city, and I simultaneously want to stay forever in and run screaming from her conservative propriety. I turn my head to face the dusty cobblestone street. My closed eyes see what others can’t — hoopskirt-clad women descending from horse drawn carriages. Confederate supporters on a street corner, gathered around a propaganda table, laughing away the thought of a war.

And deep in a valley of buildings, laughing and cheering in the distance moves closer as if it were being carried towards me on a wave. I sit up after drifting to sleep on a lazy Sunday afternoon, surrounded by a type of delirious, illicit, weekend joy that seems to take over Manhattan. My Southern sundress, a beloved juxtaposition in my life, is damp down the back from the dewey grass and the unexpected Northern heat wave. I peer across the lawn and see an impromptu wedding party. Promised vows are met with cheers from the whole park. Young love so sweet it can move an entire city. I smile and lay back down.

With my eyes closed, in the new spring grass, in the middle of Atlanta.

 

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