This post is in response to an assignment in my English class which is called “The Artist’s Journal”. We were to find a place that was outside, then observe it and write about those observations in our journal. Here goes:
There is a church on a hill near my house, a very high hill that gives you a view of the entire valley. On Saturdays there is no one there and you can drive to the top and simply park your car in their enormous parking lot and look out over the city.
It’s strange how different Roanoke feels to me from up on the hill. There are its sounds, which recede into a hushed breaking of the waves on the shore. A kind of sussuration of car, wind, electrical hum and distant voices lost and subsumed into nothing more than background noise.
The clearer sounds are those of tree limbs nearby, cracking and creaking, still losing occasional branches after last weeks storm.
Then there is bird call as well. Intermittent and soothing, when I hear it I always resolve to get the Audubon field guide and start trying to learn to identify each colored wing and mottled beak, yet I never do.
There is always the light to get lost in. The shadows of clouds and pools of light flow in intoxicating patterns across the landscape. I always feel a little catch in my throat. It doesn’t seem real. Off to my left I can see a bubbling cauldron of smoke in the distance near Hollins. It’s behind a ridge, I guess that’s what accounts for it’s appearance. I wonder why these fires won’t end.
Roanoke doesn’t look like a city from here, but a farming community in a valley, that just started to build things in its center and called it a town.
I lunched on some delicious take out fare from Teaberry’s, where the service is terrible, but the chicken salad plate is very appealing. They include pasta salad, some fruit, a deviled egg and delicious crackers in the styrofoam partioned clamshell. The salad itself is a plain jane variety that I favor, no pickle relish, just chicken, mayo, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Delicious.
After tidying up, I read some of my World Religions homework on Judaism. It’s actually turning out to be a perfect complement to my New Testament class as we discuss Judaism lightly in that class, but I get to go into it in much more depth in World Religions, which makes me feel satisfied.
I have a hard time when I get too little information, and then I have to go home and do my own research. This way at least I am getting credit for it. It also builds tremendous anticipation in me for Seminary and I daydream about that for a while. I imagine what it will be like to study there and just have nothing to think of except that aspect of my life. God, my relationship to him and how to live out his will in my life. I am longing for that day to come, but recognize that I am not ready for it yet.
What I am noticing most of all is the emptiness and aloneness of where I am and I suddenly feel very vulnerable. I begin to remember all the news stories that begin with “her car was found abandoned…” only to end with something like “…the remains of the college student who was planning on becoming a priest, were found today in a garbage can…” I go to get my pepper spray out of the car just in case some looney tunes saw me sitting alone up here and decided I was a perfect target for abduction and dismemberment. I’m not normally so fearful of my safety, the pepper spray isn’t something I routinely have, it was a gift from my overprotective little brother, who happens to be 6’3″ to my 5’1″. I try to put my finger on what is triggering my fight or flight response, but don’t see anyone around. Perhaps it’s just the openess at my back?
I do not know. I’ve been here before and never felt this way, today it feels less safe.
I try to brazen it out for a while but I have lost my sense of serenity. When I hear a truck driving up the road I look up and note in relief that it’s a man and his son. Presumably I am safe enough if a child is around. Nonetheless, I pack up my things and head home.