BEST OF EJR – Creative Nonfiction: “The Wind and The Thunder” by Alana Saltz
The Wind and the Thunder
When I think of you now, I see trees and waves and stars. I can’t separate you from the places you took me, from the places we discovered and loved together. From the tall sequoias, to the freezing winter ocean, to the impossibly clear night sky with stars and planets pressing down on us, their fingertip sparks mere inches from our heads. You brought me so many places that I had never been before.
We traveled in winter because we both hated crowds. We only needed one another. You told me I was one of the only people in the world who you could stand. You told me people cared too much about things that didn’t matter. You told me that people made you tired. Whenever I strayed into emotion, into irrationality, you saw me as one of them. Sometimes I wonder whether you ever cared for all of me, or if you only liked the parts that made you comfortable.
You loved nature, but you were my nature. I explored you the way that you explored the forests and beaches. The ocean was beautiful like you, but the harsh waves frightened me. They threatened to take my air and carry me away. The stars were lovely, but they unnerved me. Their brightness, their infinity, my inability to comprehend them. Even the trees in the forest hurt my fingers when I touched their rough bark. But you were there, and you were safe, and I understood you. I couldn’t see that your currents carried me away as easily as the waves. I didn’t know that I could comprehend you no more than the stars. I couldn’t feel the roughness of you underneath my touch, but it was there, always there.
You never said much. When you did speak, I could barely hear your words over crashing waves or across snowy fields in the mountains where it was only you, me, and the trees. You spoke so few words that each one mattered. I wanted to learn that from you. I wanted to learn the peace inside that allowed you to spend hours plucking strings on your guitar. I wanted to learn the serenity that let you stare out the windshield for miles and miles without noise.
I was the noise. I came crashing in and made your quiet world loud. I talked and cried and asked. I begged and sighed and laughed. I thought you liked my sound, and that’s why I didn’t understand when you told me you didn’t want to hear me anymore. I thought we’d grown into one another, but I was wrong. You changed because of me, but you hadn’t wanted to. I changed because of you, but it hadn’t been enough.
When you left, you told me I was broken. You said you couldn’t take care of me anymore, and that you never should have tried. I see now that I was broken because my sadness was loud while yours was silent. Your silence caused you to spend hours plucking guitar strings. Your silence made you stare out the windshield for miles and miles and miles.
Sometimes I still stop and listen to the wind make the music you spoke of when we first met, that rustling of leaves akin to the most beautiful sonatas. Natural, soft, smooth. You were my wind, and I was the thunder your breeze blew in. The night our storm ended, I remember stepping outside and looking up at a clear summer sky. I knew that now the red moon above me was mine, and only mine.
You can find Alana Saltz on twitter: @alanasaltz