In a moment

I cross the bridge over the Rideau River and quickly scan left and right, glancing at the smear of dark water underneath me and see new green tree branches leaning over the banks disturbing the surface. I look for the Great Blue Heron who fishes in the same spot every morning, still as the rock it perches on. At 6:45, traffic is light and I can slow down if something catches my eye. On Friday, there was nothing. Just the slippery black water, supporting mallard pairs bobbing in the weeds, hunting for breakfast.

But a few weeks ago it was the bend in the road that made me go “ahhh”.

For five years in all seasons I’ve commuted this same route to work. I know what lies around that easy bend among the bland one and two story buildings. There’s a small independent grocery store operated by a Lebanese family, who also run an in-store take-out counter serving tabbouleh so fresh, the parsley tickles the roof of your mouth and you can smell the yellow in the lemon juice.

The best buttertarts in Ottawa - Buttercream Bakery
The best buttertarts in Ottawa – Buttercream Bakery

There’s a dry cleaner’s, and a bakery that makes the best butter-tarts in the city, a pet store, and my favourite indy coffee shop where I stop every morning. The same people sit in the same spots at the same time of day. There are no surprises.

But on that day a few weeks ago, the bend looked different. It looked like a hint, the kind whispered behind a cupped hand to an ear. I could hear it but the words weren’t clear and I was straining to listen. I rolled down the windows and heard humming like the start of a familiar song but it was only the car tires whirling on the asphalt. In my gut I felt a quickening, as though the street were a cable, pulling me forward and there was nothing I could do to stop it; but I didn’t want to stop because it looked like the start of a smile. Just at the corner of my mouth.

The store signs read like a poem, the kind you memorize and carry with you forever, or maybe some wise old saying you lord over your kids, a reminder, a correction. The road was a thick tree limb crooked over the river that you clamber on and drop sticks into the water from, then watch them float away slowly until they are caught by the current and swirled into the middle. You lose sight of them.

Gone.

For ten suspended seconds I was excited and happy and I felt lifted as though my ordinary street had become a conduit. A busy city street, so familiar I can name every store in every block on each side of the street from the bridge to my workplace, was transformed in a moment. It was like a black magic marker had outlined everything and made the world sharper, clearer, understandable.

Now, as I approach this familiar bend, I wait for the feeling to come back. It hasn’t. It probably won’t, at least not in this spot because the numen has shifted, tucked itself into another place in another ordinary scrooping day. If I’m lucky and not waiting for it, maybe I’ll feel it again. Sometimes I feel silly and I think maybe I’m loopy, but I can still remember the feeling, and the easy bend reminds me that it’s possible for a day to shift in a moment.

In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Ezra Pound

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28 thoughts on “In a moment

  1. Cynthia Jobin May 17, 2015 / 11:47 am

    Yes, yes, yes…exactly. This has happened to me twice in my life: once in the Mojave desert and once driving over a very familiar bridge. It’s spooky, unforgettable, unretrievable, however one might wish it. Your imagery is gorgeous!

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    • redosue May 17, 2015 / 12:47 pm

      It was spooky. Like a divine tap on the shoulder or something. Interesting that it happened to you going over a familiar bridge as it did with me. I’ve also heard of other people having similar experiences in deserts which makes me wonder what it is about that kind of landscape that evokes this feeling.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bruce Goodman May 17, 2015 / 2:03 pm

    I had it once, or similar thing. Way way up a lonely mountain when alone as a young teenager I was looking for freshwater crayfish. I turned and there was a panoramic view for miles over the land and sea. The view was for real, but I heard these two gigantic orchestral chords like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve never told a soul because they would’ve thought me “loopy”. But your wonderful piece here (although different) brought such a memory to mind. Thanks!

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    • redosue May 17, 2015 / 3:19 pm

      Your comment is both fascinating and reassuring, Bruce and I’m pleased this story struck a chord with you, too. Fascinating that you heard orchestral chords and I heard whispered music.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bruce Goodman May 17, 2015 / 3:51 pm

        It’s amazing that you captured such a “rarefied experience” so vividly.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. redosue May 17, 2015 / 5:36 pm

    It was mysterious, no doubt, but I’m not sure what it meant and if I try to put it in words it comes out very corny like “take time to stop and smell the roses”. I’ll have to mull some more before I attempt a “what it meant” follow-up.

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  4. Ellen Morris Prewitt May 18, 2015 / 9:46 pm

    “It was like a black magic marker had outlined everything and made the world sharper, clearer, understandable.” This is what I call my cartoon moment–when everything seems outlined in a red crayon. I’ve never heard anyone else describe it, though, and I thank you for that.

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    • redosue May 20, 2015 / 3:05 pm

      I’m so comforted to know others have these “moments”, too.

      Like

  5. amusingpoet May 19, 2015 / 10:58 am

    I love the idea of a bend in the road and the sudden realization of some greater truth. I think that’s what the Irish mean by “a thin place.” Lovely post.

    Liked by 3 people

    • redosue May 20, 2015 / 3:06 pm

      The Irish are so clever with their descriptions of these moments. That’s exactly what it was like – the air was thin, the ground was thin, my breath was thin – like a giant amniotic sac or something. I still can’t quite describe it but “THIN” is good.

      Like

  6. Rosanna May 19, 2015 / 11:41 pm

    I’ve had a similar experience twice in the neighborhood where I go twice a week to do therapy sessions. I was driving on the side streets which was full of people and houses – this is an enclave for the lower middle class and low income families. Both times, everything and everyone appeared numinous and etherically beautiful. I haven’t been able to record the experience in writing though – didn’t know how to. This post gives me an idea on how I can do that…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rosanna May 19, 2015 / 11:47 pm

      Sue, remembering those times after reading your post brought back the same feeling of being transported into a seemingly different time and space. How interestingly wonderful. Shows how powerful your writing can be!

      Liked by 1 person

    • redosue May 20, 2015 / 3:09 pm

      I hope you do record it, Rosanna. I’m really interested in others’ similar experiences partly for selfish reasons in that at least I don’t feel so crazy!

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      • Rosanna May 21, 2015 / 9:32 am

        Just can’t find the right words to express the feeling Sue. But will try….someday…..:_)

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      • Rosanna May 22, 2015 / 10:08 am

        Sue,I’ve been thinking about this and I remember now that I wrote about these two events in my journal. I’ll look for the entries and see if I’m brave enough to share it publicly. otherwise, I’ll email you.

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      • redosue May 22, 2015 / 1:09 pm

        Rosanna, I’m tickled pink that you’re considering share these events with readers. I’d love to read your version/interpretation/thoughts of this phenomenon.

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  7. Donna Gwinnell Lambo-Weidner May 21, 2015 / 5:58 pm

    I had a strange moment once in the Toronto airport – an inexplicable feeling of connectedness to every person in the terminal. Thanks for the nudge to go and try to put it down on paper. Hey, maybe it’s a Canadian thing. Nah! just joshin’.

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    • redosue May 21, 2015 / 9:09 pm

      I would LOVE to read your interpretation of this experience, Donna. It’s a lovely/scary/happy/weird phenomenon, isn’t it?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Silver in the Barn May 22, 2015 / 11:07 am

    This is extraordinarily beautiful writing. I’ve not experienced the “thin” place yet, but through your words feels almost as though I have. Remarkable.

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    • redosue May 22, 2015 / 1:18 pm

      Hi Barbara, I’m so glad your dropped over to my reincarnated (from Memomama3) blog for a read. I hesitated for a few weeks before I attempted to capture this experience. Even still, I’m not sure I quite got it but I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that others have experienced something similar. I wonder if it has an “official” name?

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      • Silver in the Barn May 22, 2015 / 1:20 pm

        HOLY COW! Is that YOU, Susanne? Well, it just figures that I would be attracted to you by your writing AGAIN. How about that! Welcome back, I’m so glad to know who this is.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. dawnkinster June 16, 2015 / 7:05 am

    This is stunningly beautifully written. I look forward to seeing more of your work!

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    • redosue June 16, 2015 / 7:55 am

      Thanks, Dawn. I don’t know what that kind of moment is called but it was a warm and fuzzy moment with an edge of “what the hell?”

      Like

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