Where We Want To Be

I’m here because this is where I want to be. Oh, you say, every person would be elsewhere if they could. And so, why wouldn’t I want to be where there’s better food? A nicer home? Safer streets? More liberty? Longer daylight, better weather? With my family and friends, as neighbors?

I can be anywhere while I’m here. I can also be, when I’m gone. I’ve already arranged it, halfway by assuring you. And halfway, by making it true.

You are where you dream. And so, you can arrange it that you aren’t where you are. That’s a full stop.

I’m here because this is where I want to be, and I’m bringing you along too. I think of the things we used to do, that no one else will ever know. I think of our playing and laughing and our work, of how we planned our moments and made use of our time. We’re on a sunny hill and I look to you. Your smile says you’ve come up with an idea and I wait to hear it. You point the way, and we hustle to get there. The best events of my life have been fashioned with you.

They always will be!

You’re on a couch and you’re sad, you want to know why we can’t be anywhere again. I tell you, make a dream of it, and I’m with you.

Make your way to me.

A dream is a thought we can use as a destination, while transforming places. Here it comes, I’m on my way now.

I’ve happened by a forest. I imagine it. It’s nighttime, I’m walking along the sidewalk of a paved but empty four-lane road, and it’s snowing. To my right is a twenty-foot strip of grass leading to the woods.

The moonlight and streetlights show me this.

I step onto the grass and the downward pitch lures me off to the side. Ahead of me, to my right, the woods are so dark, and so tall, they seem to curve over my head. They almost threaten to rise and pull me in. I suddenly feel uncomfortable exposed on the grass strip so I think, what could be wrong with just keeping moving toward this massive looming thing?

Running away seems worse! Then my back would be towards it. And what would be in front of me? What destination but a lonely road?

You don’t “kind of step into” this forest’s first-row bit of thicket. You are out one moment and then you are in, for good. The way in is not an entrance, it’s a one-way membrane wall that acquiesces to your forward step and ignores anything to do with you turning back. And I don’t want to go back. That is our first agreement, between the forest and me.

Once inside the woods, one thing happens as two simultaneous events. I’m robbed of light, and am granted blindness– the moon and streetlights have gone bar-hopping without me. I think that the people in a far more active part of town could make better use of them, anyway. Light reveals, which seems to be a cheat. Darkness leads to discovery, which is more fulfilling.

All of this, at least, here.

It’s so black, I can’t walk without thinking there is something directly in front of me. Is a branch pointing near my eye? Are thorns poised at my legs? Is there a pit, a divot, a rocky edge that could bring me down, twist my ankle or wrench my back? I want to stretch my hands, but resist, because it seems that reaching would be rude. I want to slow my pace, but this also strikes me as offensive to this place. I proceed with the faith that nothing will harm me, and nothing does. I move and turn and duck, quite naturally, confident and with a growing ease.

The darkness makes me use my skin and ears in a new way. I feel again an increase in my confidence and speed, and I can do no wrong! I proceed on my way, which is my working deeper into the forest, and along with it, a sort of surrender. Because in moving quickly, without blundering about like one would normally reasonably do, I have surrendered.

With my succumbing, darkness has now become an assurance, a trusted partner. I have given up my legacy senses in exchange for other gifts, which I would not have been given had I not freed up space.

And now, under a thick bush and beside a wide tree, I find a place that I feel will protect me. I duck down, and force myself forward. There, I’m inside.

Under this bush, I’ve found a place I can stay put for awhile. Let me say this, too: Here, I don’t think of bushes and dirt/rocks/woods as things. Things aren’t my friends; someone here is definitely taking care of me. All the factions are working together for my benefit. I know this not from evidence but from the intuition that was flowed into me, beginning when I crossed into the one-way membrane.

I am full, and am comforted, because the forest only looked dangerous when I was an outsider. It was only threatening when I saw it as dark and menacing. And now, I am inside there, and underneath here, in all means that matter.

In this private place, my personal shrub, there is plenty of room and surprisingly, a glow of faint yellow light–so faint there’s no source. Also, there is comfort. There are no needs. And even though I’m sure I’m in the presence of beings, no one is monitoring me. Not in the finger-wagging sense. Not in the time’s-a-ticking sense. I know for sure that time has stopped in these woods.

Under that bush, there’s enough space for me to call home. This is my comfort zone. This is where a mirror image of me can stay forever, and from where I can now travel to be with you. You, and me, anywhere, any year, with no limits on our time.

I can be here in life, and in death.

From here, I can imagine traveling to be with you– to any place we were, or any place we would like to choose. For a period of time, unmonitored.

Remember our cherished moment? Oh yes, I am waiting there!

Imagine this: When a lizard jumps onto a parked car’s shiny surface, he’s confounded by what he sees. There’s an apartment building, and grass, and even himself; there, but not. The reflection is no longer a glossy car. The reflection supersedes survival instinct. Perhaps when we see him like this, we’re witnessing an animal brought to imagination.

The lizard has stepped into the forest. He will stay for an hour or longer, even though his kind survives by either moving fast or blending in. He is doing neither, while he is here.

He is not here, while he is here.

About Ara Hagopian's The LITERATE Show

For over thirty years, I have enjoyed drawing beautiful shapes and writing complementary stories. The imagery tends to focus on our place in the world—whomever or whatever we may be. I am influenced by Twentieth Century history—I read vintage magazines, books and letters. Inspiration comes from visualizing human achievement and personal interaction—derived from people, places and things which may be obscure, but never insignificant. My pen-and-ink THE MAGNIFICENT RECOVERY was selected by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for their 2008 summer art auction.
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