Zelda's Inferno exercise: moments like raindrops on a window

Zelda's Inferno exercise: write about something that you intended to or should have told someone, but never did.

Imagine a raindrop on a window. If you are in the right place, it may reflect some ray of light brilliantly at you, sparkling like a gem; but someone standing right next to you my not be in the path, and just see through the translucent drop to what's behind it.

So it is with moments in time. We share them with friends, family, lovers, teacher, students, but a moment that shines for me may be ordinary for the one with whom I shared it.

Twenty years or so ago, in the car with my father, headed back home after some errand...on North Point Road, if memory serves. Around the edges of the memory is a tinge or resentment -- had we been arguing? Perhaps. An inevitable part of the mitosis by which we separate from the parents to become ourselves.

The radio tuned to the oldies station. Chuck Berry. Perhaps it is impossible to hold on to resentment in the face of Johnny B. Goode. My father and I both start, softly, singing. And now there is a new tinge in the film of memory. No single word for it, that I know -- call it a recognition of humanity. The same color that tinges the memory of sitting in a ancient zendo in Japan, a temple founded by Dogen himself, and hearing the footsteps of the monk walking on the tatami behind me -- he too is "just like this", Kerouac's "equally a coming Buddha", Vonnegut's unwavering band of light.

Or perhaps that's all to abstract and literary-referencey for just knowing, in that moment, not just father-and-son, but two men.

Sometimes I think about mentioning this moment to him, asking if he recalls it, all these years later. But I suspect it is like those droplets of rain, a moment that glittered just for me, that trying to speak of it would be like reaching out to grab that drop on the window as if it were a gem and not a reflection, a temporary aggregate of circumstance, the radio and sound waves reflecting off of our relationship and into my own perception, with the man sitting next to me seeing a different reflection.

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