The Use of Space

It rains overnight, and the morning puddles hold mirrors up to the sky and the treetops, sprinkled with rusty fallen leaves. My roommate heads out for the weekend. Cindy plays keep-away with me for an hour before falling into slumber. I am buzzing on coffee and warding off the cold weather that finally arrives.

Last Wednesday, I went with a friend to see the New York City Ballet dance to violin music. Their bodies an extension of the melody, they flung themselves into the choreography and into the air, fearless. 

I myself have not been dancing. I think about it, sometimes, and the sensation that fills me is a small mourning, like thinking about time spent with a long-gone pet or memories of living in a far-away place. The dancers shifted across the massive stage, singularly, in mass formation, paired, and I felt something stir in me. The curtain went down, I got on the subway for home, dazed.

You can never predict how you will feel about something, until it happens.

My brother turns 35 tomorrow. It's a big milestone year. And yet this is the first year since moving to NYC that I haven't headed back to California to celebrate with him. I chat on Facetime last night with my parents and my niece. Zoe says hi, then runs off to play. My dad ambles off as well, after a while. The video keeps cutting out, and my mom says, "Oh! Poor connection." Our smiling faces are frozen together on the screen.

My work pulls me across the state. On Monday I'll head out to Long Island for three days, transiting its length from Uplands Farm to Shelter Island. My mind is eager for the adventure, eager to be on the move. I still get a rush from it, that sensation of traveling, the newness of the views, the joy of having navigated oneself to a new place. There is also an understanding of our work that I can only gain from seeing it in person, replacing knowledge where before there was emptiness. 

I constantly remind myself that all I do is a choice. I have chosen this city so many times, given up so much time with family and loved ones to be here, to live out the opportunities offered to me here.  Some self-help books tell you to fill those gaps with busy-ness. But I'm not so sure it works. It's a distraction, yes, but it is also only that. 

Wednesday would have been my Great Uncle David's birthday, the small man who always understood my love for animals, who was always kind and encouraging, who left me with only good memories. I miss him still. There are so many I've lost, in one way or another. These spaces, once opened, can never again be filled.

Acceptance. I ponder the blessings I have - my family, this incredible life, what people have deemed "privileges" - and they are strong. I wonder what I can build. I am dreaming big. Frank Lloyd Wright said that "the space within becomes the reality of the building." What I miss becomes me. The question becomes not how to fill the void, but rather, how to make it beautiful? How to use it in my pursuit of lofty ideals? 


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