By Sol Dente, TIWP Student
Down the hill and right a ways from my house lies a rock. I cannot tell you its size or its shape, nor what colors the sun choses to paint it as when it sinks below the waterline or how it feels to run a calloused fingertip over its bumps and ridges. I cannot tell you what it smells like when water droplets make their way in between its rocky crevices or what noise is found on a clear day when a little red bird goes pecking at its base. All I can tell you is that there is a rock down the hill and right aways from my house and on rainy days beetles will find their way underneath its smooth stone to hide.
One yellow summer morning, I looked out of my frosted window and found that stone down the hill and a ways to the right. I cannot tell you how it arrived, be it wind or water, nor exactly when. All I can tell you is that one yellow summer morning, I looked out my frosted window and found that stone.
The rock has been there for three years. At first I made a few tentative visits, I did not know the rock and the rock did not know me. We exchanged nothing but silence, but in a surprisingly pleasant way. The days passed on and on and I began to visit the rock more and more, until I would say goodnight in each evening and greet it hello in each morning. The rock was a listener, more than I could ever be, and I would talk day in and day out about whatever I needed too. The rock never said anything in reply, but I knew that it heard me, and that it had listened. I cannot tell you how I knew this, only that I did.
Over time, I began to visit the rock less and less. The rock did not get upset with me, as it knew the same thing I did, that distance would not decrease my fondness for the rock and its watchful ears. These days, I do not talk to the rock very much at all, but there is an understanding between us that should I need to talk, the rock will always be there. I cannot tell you how I know this, only that I do.
Right next to my house on the left side runs a river. I cannot tell you how deep or long the river is, nor what color it sparkles when the light catches in its eyes or the sound that bubbles up when you toss a stone into its depths. I cannot tell you what the rocks that run along its bank hear as they are swallowed by its swells, nor can I tell you how it feels to glide your hand along its surface as you gaze into your own swirling reflection. All I can tell you is that right next to my house on the left side runs a river.
On a blue winter’s evening, I heard a rushing of sorts, and found that river snaking along the left side of my house. Before the river, there had been a stream, and before the stream, a trickle, but I had never quite anticipated it getting this big. I had watched it for years as it grew larger and larger, but I cannot tell why it was then and there that it overflowed. All I can tell you is that one blue winter’s evening, I heard a rushing noise and found that river.
The river has been there for a little less than six months. When I first found it, I ran to its rocky banks, but the river only rose to greet me once a week. Then the days went on and before long it was rushing to my fingertips as I stepped out of my house. I learned very quickly that a river does not listen. It does not need to, for it is the only voice it will ever hear. The river talks, it rants and rambles through its currents, it calls and converses in swirling eddies, the river never has to to start talking because it simply never stops. I would add in what thoughts I could, for I am not a listener either, and we would talk each other’s ears off for hours on end. Although the river was loud and raging, it learned to listen to me as well. I cannot tell you how I knew this, only that I did.
If I am honest, I thought that the river would have left a long time ago. It is not in the nature of water to stay put for very long. I assumed that the waves would recede and the ground would dry, perhaps not fully, but enough so that the river would no longer rage. That, as of now, has not happened yet. I still come to meet it at its bank every day, and despite the fact that not much has changed since I heard that rushing water, the river and I are more connected now than we were that blue winter’s evening. I cannot tell you how I know this, only that I do.
This is how I have lived, between a rock and a river, and I could not be happier, however, a rock is not a river and a river is not a rock. The river is lively and dancing, and it gives me so, so much joy, but there are days when the world is bracketed by wind and the river will rage and shake and it is hard to reach it through its tears. The wind will not touch the stone, so on those days I will sit and tell the stone my worries and my fears and the stone will listen. Today was one of those days, and I sit in my cabin transcribing this onto a faded journal because this is not the first of these days, nor will it be the last, so I will record each and every one of them because a friendship is perfect in its imperfections. I know the winds will die down and the sun will clear and I will run to my rock and my river and feel at home once more.
I cannot tell you how I know this, only that I do.