Thursday, May 29, 2014

Honeysuckle and Ether

Honeysuckle mainlines spring. For the nose, tongue, eyes, it shoots straight into spirit, into memory. Walking to work in Anacostia, DC, I walk under 295, next to a highway and I smell it blatantly. There shouldn't be honeysuckle here, but there it is, growing in a stand of trees between freeways. And it takes me two places.

Over the weekend, Anna went back to the corner of the yard, where honeysuckle grows on the fence. She picked some and sat on the deck with me, dissecting each piece to suck its sweetness. She's done this for years now, anywhere she finds it.

Growing up, honeysuckle grew at the shoreline in our back yard, but even more so in the marsh behind our neighbor's. And we harvested it for the same fleeting sweetness. You had to get bunches to make it worth your while. Kids housing honeysuckle is timeless.

Each day I go into the ether. The ether is what I've taken to calling the realm of the internet. There is no cell phone reception in our building, so the internet and email is all you have. Somewhat cut off. But really the ether encompasses all of our virtual worlds. The world where we experience reality on a screen--computer, laptop, tablet, cell phone. Where people are profile pictures or avatars. Where emails, blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, allow us to hide, to filter, to present ourselves as we want others to see us.

There is no honeysuckle in the ether. The photo has no smell, no taste, can't get you there, and words and images can't put those things there. They can't create it.

I like the ether. I better, since by virtue of reading this, that's one way you know me. I get to expound what's on my mind and have you read it. I dig it. I work as a writer, in communications, in public relations, so I sure as hell better be down with the ether.

But I can't live in the ether. I can't smell coffee, or go for a run, or drink a beer. The ether won't let me dance in the kitchen, or steal a kiss, or ponder the moon from the front steps. The ether can't stand waist-deep in the river with my daughters paddleboarding, feeling both sun, water, muddy river bottom, and hearing their splashing laughter, watching them learn. The ether has no blue in its night or morning skies.

Those things live in the honeysuckle world. The sensory world of our experience.

I am cognizant of my ether addiction. Of how much time I spend in it. Of how I need it to do what I do. And how it can connect me with people I have lost, and how it can enable me to do my job and make a living. I am thankful for what it can do.

But I am more of the honeysuckle world. That's the world that connects me to my childhood. That connects me to my daughters. That connects me to my senses. That connects me to Nature.

On my morning walk into the ether, I smell honeysuckle in the city. Where it shouldn't be. And I breathe in. And I remember.

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