Something has been nagging me as we’ve discussed ‘spaces’ in our seminars. At first I thought it was something to do with the space I’m going to write my essay on. Then I realized it didn’t have to do with that at all—it had to do with the very process of writing about space. It finally hit me today: I’ve done this before. I was seventeen, on a fishing/camping trip with my dad and brothers. I was sitting on a rock in the middle of Wyoming nowhere, trying to figure myself out. Reading over it again I can see it's something I still haven't resolved; perhaps I should write about it again, and try harder to name the space this time. But here, in all its plain, hand-written, mostly un-edited honesty, is my first experience with writing about space:
Have you ever missed someone and not known who you were missing? I look around at all these astounding sights, and I feel like someone else belongs here too. I even catch myself turning to empty air to point something out, or forming remarks that are never made because the addressee is unknown. I’ve gone through images of my friends trying to find the one that fits, but although some are close, none of them quite match.
The country here is so vast and remote, but of itself it does not seem lonesome. Rather, it seems to invite the solitary: A craggy peak breaks the sky; a tree rises alone from a hillside of sagebrush; a large boulder sits in the center of a river. The land, air, and water all call for me to leave my family and sit on my own, but once there they increase my loneliness in a beautiful, tugging way. The wind blows across a lake and whistles through the trees and through my ears; waves are created that attempt to scale the boulder on which I’m perched. They all talk to me, and I seem so far from alone, but I’m distanced by the fact that I cannot speak their language.
A massive boulder surveys several bends in a river, and raises me enough to again see the mountain peaks above the river bluffs. Fish jump here and there, and an Osprey makes a breathtaking dive in search of dinner. I can’t see if it succeeded, but two crows follow it closely as it flies off into the distance. The sun is playing with the mountains as it sets, highlighting some and throwing others into shadow. Clouds and the sun’s descent alter the picture unceasingly, like nature’s kaleidoscope.
Way off I can see my family gathered around tying flies for tomorrow’s fishing. I’m the only one not involved. I’ve enjoyed the fishing as well (and have sunburns to prove it), but I needed a bit of solitude, and they understood.
There’s an empty space beside me on the boulder, and again I turn, and almost manage to see the person I’m coming to expect, gazing at the river as I have been doing. They appreciate the sights and sounds as I do, and this time I feel no urge to speak to them.
The sun drops lower, and this river valley and most of the mountains rest in shadow. A cool breeze makes me shiver, and as I glance around I realize I can see no other signs of civilization than our small campsite. How many people have seen this? How many of those stopped to notice and appreciate it?
When you’re this alone so many people go through your mind. I can see people I’ve not talked to for years as though they are here. They take their turns on the rock beside me, but none stay long. Some laugh, and remind me of time spent together; some cry, and I cry at time lost. Others simply smile or wink, and then they’re on their way. And there’s still at least one that I cannot place, which frustrates me to no end; to him I write these musings: my solitary friend.