Smoke Rings

| Saturday, May 30, 2009

Finally got to light one of my sticks of incense today.

It's been a while since I've done that. The last time was probably at the end of summer last year. Smelling the smoke and the early season twilight, I felt like I had come full circle. Full circle, among many overlapping others.

Last time I sat in the grass with friends with a stick of incense was in a small field on the edge of the Portland Saturday Market. It was a bright and bustling summer afternoon, and we were fairly bored and restless. As we looked through a book of Post Secret postcards, a hobo joined our small circle of three and chatted us up. As strange as the situation was, I felt like I could not be happier sitting in that grass. I was soaking in the summer, memories of which were stained and blurred with the epiphany of first love. That summer burned away. Now is a new summer.

There was a welcome breeze tonight that required us to bring sweatshirts. The plan had officially been to come out and do homework outside. He had no problem getting busy on his programming assignments on his own laptop beside me, but as soon as I opened my laptop I had to close it again--the blue-gray sky and the green-brown scenery demanded my attention. It seemed a sin to ignore this beauty.

Looking around, I was pulled deep into the scenery. Not just the shapes and colors, but the feel and the smell and the relative silence. By no means had we walked out to some Klamath Falls viewpoint, either. We had simply settled on a dry patch of grass next to a tree in front of Purvine building.

Nostalgia. That's what I felt.

Was it the incense? Although my family was not generally a fan of incense, it was used at my grandfather's funeral in Japan. I was seven. I gazed at the friendly orange building lights on Semon Hall and thought of the light pollution in Sapporo, my first home. You could only see a third of the sky there due to the dense population of structures. Someday, I'm going to look back on this moment and wish I was young again, here again. I felt like I was in both the past and future. I might always feel like I have unfinished business, but I will try to live what I can. Is it possible to step back to try to fix something? Maybe, maybe not.

That stick of incense probably lasted 45 minutes, and for 45 minutes I intensely enjoyed doing nothing. I was often bored as a child, so I had learned to amuse myself when I had nothing to do. A necessary tool. It was still burning when we were ready to go, so I picked it out of the ground and we walked a path that we rarely took. The breeze on our backs synchronized the smoke with our pace. When I swung my arms, it left smoke rings by my side. We passed people on the way, others that were appreciative of the warm Saturday darkness. I had missed this. I dropped the remaining minute of incense in the cigarette disposal by the south entrance. I hoped it sweetened the bin, if even slightly.