Glancing Over My Shoulder

I put in my notice at work. I’ve three more weeks before I leave, and it astounds me what I notice now that I never caught in my four years here as a student. One more glance around the room before I go.

The flowers of orchid trees have a scent. They are only so slightly perfumed that you must bury your nose in the blossom to smell it at all–but it is sweet for all its delicacy.

I’ve never had a day to play out on the bay at low tide and ramble at my leisure. I’ve always been hurried on the days I catch the water peeling back to reveal bare naked sand, and I’ve never had the time to just listen and feel the muck sucking at my shoes, or watch the tiny crabs scuttling over the silt.

There is a tree, not a jacaranda, that has just exploded purple next to the Pei dormitories. I have never noticed it before, but the wind sets the petals swirling down in a shower of violet-pink. They will be all gone before the week is out.

The ospreys are nesting again, having saved the upright status of a dead slash pine behind the café. It was marked for removal, but unlike its brethren, it was able to attract an occupant. The nest is a scraggly knot of palm and moss and pine branches, and the osprey (vain bird) shrieks only when no one is paying attention.

A strange flock of birds followed me across the campus today; ground-bound behind the Palmer buildings, they lifted as one at my approach, a thunderous roar of many wings flapping at a single beat so that I could feel the rush of it. They arced and wheeled with one mind, crossed US 41, and took up in the trees outside of my office. Their song was the cacophonous frenzy of recorded microphone feedback played over itself, out of sync, again and again.

All these things I notice in my leaving. I’ll stow them away, little treasures I’ve found, in a building set for demolish the next day. No one has to know I took them. No one has to know that I will wear them close to my heart.

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