The Place Where I Live
By Steve Quinn
on the Daylight Side of the Planet
The child hides her eyes and becomes invisible, but the true delight comes when she drops her hands. The novelty of the game is that the world carries on even when she does not watch it. This is a lesson some of us never completely learn.
I am a child of the suburbs, an environment that coddles the notion that when I close my eyes at night it is a pause button between one peek-a-boo day and the next. Trash cans wait patiently for the morning, my clothes and my desk will be much as they were when I shut off the light, and even the weather rejoins us predictably close to where it left us at dusk.
But now I am moving to the coast, spending the night there to get the cottage ready. It is not suburban, so far from streetlights that the constellations are lost among countless stars the zodiac never hinted at. When I open my eyes in the morning, it is clear the world has gone on without me: muddy tracks across the deck, hoof prints among the apple trees, tulip sprouts nibbled to the ground.
The weather here does not sleep either, but unlike the baker, who worked while suburbia slept, I have no idea what will be laid out for breakfast. A cold moonrise will bring a warm downpour as often as frost; morning clouds and wind appear already in full stride, or swagger at sunset but vanish when I close my eyes.
And the sea, of course: the work it does from dusk to dawn can be alarming. The roiling tide coaxes new debris from the river across the bar, and then like a midnight prank erects driftwood temples at the feet of the dunes, the secrets of their construction lost to us who dwell in daylight.
It is like playing peek-a-boo, but uncovering my eyes to find father with a suddenly full beard. Every morning I am Rip van Winkle; every evening is another invitation for the world to turn while I sleep. Some games never get boring.