Saturday, November 08, 2008

748. Visceral

(Dear NaBloPoMo: The idea is to have 30 posts in 30 days, right? Well, I posted twice on Wednesday, so doubling up today only seems fair, no?)

I'm still not over the election; the glow hasn't yet disappeared. But it's more than that--on a deeply physical, almost cellular level, I feel like something elemental about the fabric of life has changed. My only experience with this sensation happened after tragedy; perhaps giving birth or getting married creates the same seismic shift in perception, but I can't (yet) compare those experiences. I'm reminded of the months post-9/11, when I had to tell myself on a regular basis that it wasn't a bad dream, and I really did live in a world where something permanent could be wiped away as cleanly as if it had never existed. Occasionally I wasn't sure if I knew the boundary between reality and imagination, since fact seemed impossible.

I had the same feeling during a small and completely benign earthquake we had in New York in 1985. It was a few months after my mother's death; I hadn't yet moved out of the apartment where I grew up, and had never before felt so unsettled and confused. I was sound asleep early on a Saturday morning and remember opening my eyes to see the knickknacks on my shelves dancing. I assumed I was having some kind of weird dream; then I felt the bed shake, and realized I was awake. It was a completely alien physical sensation, and my mind raced to define what was going on. I felt like someone had dropped me into a different universe. After a few moments my brain could function once again, and my first thought was that a nuclear bomb had been dropped and the world was ending. What does one do in this case? I wondered. I suddenly noticed the clock radio next to my bed, turned it on, and learned that we had a minor earthquake that caused no damage.

Substituting nightmare with joy, the visceral sensation felt much the same on Tuesday night. This place isn't the same place anymore.

You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun, step into the light
— From The Wizard of Oz

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