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But, How Did It Make You Feel?
By Melissa Lipnick

It’s autumn and I’m driving. The clouds that clustered for days have dissipated. Just little puffs like smoke sprinkle the sky, now. The days before this, I drove blindly through the fog. My senses lit the way because there wasn't a choice otherwise. The haze felt too real, too ominous, and too metaphoric.

But today, the light is bright and easy. And though there is one child in my car who is unleashing his anger in screams that suffocate the cabin space, I can breathe better. I am treading lightly in this new space. If the clouds reached toward me, through the windshield, I would let myself be enveloped in their soft hug. This floating feeling exists only if I allow my reasoning to be flung out the window, lost in the wind.

This is the year of the pandemic, the year my fourth child is born, and the year we went to Forest School. We exit reality the moment I turn left onto the gravel drive that leads us to the forest that can be everyone’s school. It’s our path to Narnia; the tree branch covered road that unexpectedly opens into an exhale of wide land. Power lines litter the cross space of field and gravel. It should feel wrong. The juxtaposition of ugly with freely growing grass should feel misplaced, but instead I read it as a message.

Today we round the corner towards that opening, and suddenly there is nothing but light. I hit the brakes at a halt. I am blinded. To move forward, I have to trust again like the days of fog. But in the light, it feels like free falling. We are barreling down the roller coaster hill, even as my foot is firmly on the brake. Somehow it is scarier to trust how to move forward in the light, then it was when the absence of it.

Time wins. We have four minutes less then usual, so I press down on the gas and imagine I am enveloped again in a cloud’s hug, being guided safely. For a millisecond we are suspended in trust. Blink. Next millisecond and the stomach drop passes. The next curtain of trees ushers us inside their shade.

We get there and it’s on a different timetable than I intended, but it’s ours. I accept it. Is there a choice anyways? Fog, light, blinding sun, sad skies, deep clouds, gravel, road, suspended in a moment, click the camera to remember not the image, but how it made you feel.

Written by Melissa Lipnick, a writer and artist in Cleveland, Ohio.