Do you remember when you were little, looking up into the sky from some long car journey? That moving sky. Remember being struck by those huge white clouds? Cumulonimbus, I think they’re called. Let me check… Yep, those are the ones. The ones that stretch up into the sky, almost limitless. Impossibly white. I guess they’re like heaven clouds. The kind of place humans imagine angels hang out on.
These kinds of clouds are abundant in Trinidad. We get them in the UK too – I call them ocean clouds. Huge and fluffy – it’s like they’re spun out of the ocean. They give a sense of adventure and movement – as if they could lead us away.
I caught myself looking at such a cloud as we headed from Macqueripe Beach today. Things a little tense in the car. Since Jack and I spoke yesterday about the way he’s been reacting to Lu, he’s been mad at me. Yes, I was upset and am maybe not giving him enough credit to process it. Hold on. WTF – who am I kidding? He’s mad. Mad at me, specifically. Yep – he gets mad at Lu and when I tell him off for it, he gets mad at me. Where’s the fair switch there?
Anyhow, I was staring up at this cloud in the quiet of the car. Huge, white cumulonimbus cloud.
‘What do you want to do with your life?’ the cloud asked me.
Oh shit. Suddenly I remembered being that kid in the car. Now the cloud was asking me again.
It said, ‘You’re a lot older than when I last asked you. And you haven’t fulfilled all the things you wanted when we last talked. I can see that right now by the way you’re staring at me. Forty-somethings don’t stare at me like that unless they’ve had regrets or doubts. What’s on your mind?’
I gulped. ‘Oh, you know. Just the usual. When I was little and I stared at you, I wanted all these things. I wanted the great career, the happy family. I wanted to be powerful. Staring at you then made me feel that way.’
‘And now I remind you of what you didn’t achieve?’
I nodded through the window, feeling increasingly tiny. ‘I guess.’
The cloud shook off a piece of enormous white floss. ‘So, let me give you a heads-up. You are going to look at me again this way, just before you die. Because dying people tend to do that just before they go. And when you’re looking up, you’re going to remember again how you felt as a kid, full of wonder, imagining what your life would be like. Except now you’ll be on the other side of it. It’ll be the end of your journey. Can you live with that?’
Uhhh. I stared up, not knowing what to say. At that moment, I was filled with impossible sadness and self-annoyance. Why had I wanted all those things in the first place? Surely to be happy was enough. Grateful just to be alive.
The cloud grew even larger – so it’s tops were as now doing an atmospheric impression of Bart Simpson’s hair. ‘You don’t have to answer me now. Just think about it.’
Here I was thinking it was just a cloud.