Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Earth Also Moves, as Does the Sky

The day I left town to start my enlistment in the Army, a fire broke out on the west side of town as we drove to the airport. The intensity of the blaze and the chaotic force of the wind gave the moment a wildness and frantic energy, which at the time I felt was a perfect omen of the things to come.

When I came home four years later, I saw the jade skies of Korea over Reno, three weeks after my discharge. Normally the winds coming off the Gobi turn the air above the Land of the Morning Calm bottle green during the summer months, but in mid 2000, they carried the sands of that far-off desert all the way to the Silver State.

It was so utterly appropriate. It felt as though the world was playing back the previous four years of experience and intensity even as I transitioned into a new life over the course of ten months.

Later that summer, the night skies above Reno burned with the light of the aura borealis, taking me back to seven weeks spent in Artic Norway. There, curtains of green or purple plasma had shimmered down from orbit, while phosphorescent ghost clouds appeared and faded out on the hemispherical verge of the night sky.

Today, smoke from Russia turned the evening sky peach. It transformed the setting sun's light into the warm rose and orange tones of Northern California's sunsets, just as similar Russian fires did once or twice while I was living in Sweden. Then this evening the earth moved while I ate dinner with my friends. Later, it quaked again as three of us sat around the house doing nothing of importance.

I didn't notice the four-point-something Thursday afternoon, when I was leaving work. I wish I had been in an animal room at the time. It would have been interesting to see if the kids had sensed it coming and gratifying to have witnessed their reactions.

I imagine, like most primate responses, that an array of individual reactions coalesced into a single collective reply to the world's surprises.

It feels momentous, this waiting to see if the past several weeks of small earthquakes will crystallize in the form of a monster trembler, or will they simply play out as their energy disperses into other fault lines.

It seems portentous and meaning-filled as I prepare to move yet again into another life. That seems to be my existence on this earth: four-year chapters with one-year interludes.

Sometimes I may as well be a Medieval European, gazing up into the night sky and seeing the divine will and love written in celestial the tracks of the spheres and movement of the stars. I feel connected to all things, but somehow I am less sure of my own trajectory than I once was.

When I took the phone call and arranged for my job interview up north, I ended up locking myself out of my car. Just what does that mean? Am I shutting myself out of something important—higher education, a relationship, a possibility?

Tough to say, especially when so many other omens seem to argue for moving to the Northwest. I had a moment of doubt on the freeway, and then a car passed me in the left lane bearing a customized license plate that said "Go North." OK, not much ambiguity in that one. Then there was me pondering at lunch, early last month, whether I should go on the vacation up the coast that ultimately led me to apply for the job. As I sat there, the waiter brought the bill, and the accompanying fortune cookie told me that now was the time to explore, and that a vacation was in order. Yesterday I started to reconsider while on the elliptical at the gym, and I looked down to see a guy on a weight machine below wearing a dark-yellow Oregon t-shirt.

I do not believe in the supernatural, but there appears to be a flow of potential that I should be hooking myself into as events converge, and the world heads towards its next big change. It seems as if I am meant to go north, it feels like I should, but I can't help but wonder what I will sacrifice for this move. After all, nothing is free and everything worthwhile is earned with time and effort.

Zounds! That was a strong one that just struck! Well, relative to the earlier quakes at least--probably in the 5.0 region. The world shook, glass objects rattled, and the house osculated for thirty seconds after the quake stopped. And now, there are aftershocks. Three so far. Ok, my roommate just checked the UNR seismology lab's website. It was a 4.9.

So, is there a disaster in the offing, or was that it? Has all of this buildup merely been a turbulent side effect of change?

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