“I can’t make that flight back. I can’t for a lot of reasons. And I told you before I left, I can’t do it any other way. I’m sorry.” “You shouldn’t be there at all. Enjoy your vacation!”
Then as an afterthought “Who are you anyway?” And, I’d tried to answer, but the phone had disconnected before I could. I’m not sure what I would have said anyway. I’m so far away. In so many ways. It’s all so very strange. Here, I am finding myself moving to a quieter rhythm. There’s a soft nodding pace to the way I’m beginning to breathe. There are an ebb and flow, in all of this space.
I am not even surprised that there is truly no end to the distance in which everything familiar has receded. The distance to which I have receded. I am caught up. I am flowing away. I am adrift. Chasing the splash of golden light that sprawls out endlessly across the waters. Everything about it, this experience and the inside and outside of me; the good and the bad, it’s gentled into this solitude.
The air brushes my skin and moves through me nudging against me sweetly. My feet are scrubbed smooth by the long rambled walks through the sand that I’ve spent hours losing myself in. My face is constantly upturned trying to identify what it is in the strange pink kissed light that’s so different down here. I keep trying to define it, and I simply can’t. I drop to my bed at night, tired but peaceful. I drift off on a quiet tide. I rise and stretch my way across the floor each morning in my own timing.
I move the curtains aside. I catch the light on my face. I do not feel the tick-tock dread of “It’s time again.” I sit at the desk in the light from the window and curl and uncurl my toes. I nod back and forth and unkink my neck. I stretch and arch and yawn outrageously. I revel in the silence. I try to lay out as much time as I can to be with her.
When we are together, I carry much easier the dueling weights of my love and worry. I marvel at our similarities when we are together, in the ways we fill up a room with our individual and distinct presences. So unique and yet so marked, indelibly scented pungent, and bruised up, a jumbled collection of likenesses and differences. Each of us whispers gently to the other. We flicker and waver and twine together in a strangely familiar way. Though we are also quite undeniably different. Moments of recognition are sometimes barely illuminated, and I catch them only in the skin-tingling brush of their leaving.
Sometimes it is sudden quick lit strikes, flashing across the space between us like lightning. There is recognition, and it’s gone again. We scorch each other as we slash with precision the very tender places where we touch together, and then just as quickly we move on again. Just that fast, it can be gone. Suddenly she is just who she is, and I resume being who I am. I think we both are coming to terms with that. Or perhaps, it is only me who has ever needed that reckoning anyway.
Either way, for me, there is such sweetness in this meeting with her. In seeing her exactly where she is. In the unflinching ability to say, I see you. Wherever you are, I will find you. I will look past the chains. I will hear you, I will find you, and I will seek you through the noise.
You are who I will see in the middle of it all. I’m here. The payoff has been getting to know a distinct person that, joyfully, I’ve discovered I like very much. I’m free to meet her exactly as she is. This person of who she is with and without me. We cannot go back. What has been will always be. It is simply what is. But, the acceptance of that floods the broken places with light. It opens up a zillion and one new possibility. Because in the destruction and shattering of all those pretty little pieces, in all that beautiful mess; there’s freedom.
It can now become anything that we want it to be. We are both free to be. There is gorgeousness for me in this re-connection to what has been missing. And in the bright quick-eyed innocent flickering glance, the quirking joker slipped grins that we share. There’s also a sweetly extended invitation to be present in the building of who we each will be.
Together. And separately.
Somehow, in the middle of all of it, I’m even glad to be here. Right here! In this very silly place. And, it’s just about the last place on earth I ever thought I’d be thankful for. This place challenges me in ways I’ve never felt. It illuminates my separateness in a way no other backdrop in my experience ever has before. It, in fact, lights it all up quite brilliantly. And, for whatever reason, I land here and go dumb. It’s like my brain melts completely to twice-warmed-over stupid goo and then leaks completely, ever so gently, from out of my ears.
It begins to happen the moment I hit the ground. I find myself asking for help here. And, what becomes starkly apparent in that sharp, hot light, is the bittersweet teary-eyed pang of experiencing what it feels like to have total strangers step forward; without anger, expectation, or resentment, and simply help me. They show up and just pull me out of the fucking mud.
With a credit card, insurance, roadside assistance, and a kind of inquisitive, funny sort of heart, I can get what I need. But, the acts of gentleness in response to the outlandish favors I’ve asked, is almost obscenely sweet. The kindnesses here, well there’s something singular and unique. It’s the strangest state of fucked up grace I’ve ever felt! Yes. I’m thankful to be here. And in the in between times when I have not been with her, nor am I lost, nor stuck, I have wrapped myself in blissful, soft silence.
In those times, I have not tried to figure out or solve a single goddamned thing. I’ve just moved with the rhythm that has surrounded me. I’ve walked for hours and been lulled by the easy roll of my hips and I have sighed at the freedom in the light swing of my empty arms. I have selfishly guarded this solitude. But, back to the question, I didn’t even get a chance to answer. Who am I? I don’t know. I’m certain that I am more than the sum total of whoever it is that anybody else wants me to be. Perhaps it is that I won’t ever know.
Perhaps someday my answer will be valued as having worth enough for someone to pause long enough to hear. Maybe somebody will be interested in finding out the answer. Though maybe next time I am asked it will be that I find myself quite content in my skin, and I will see that I owe no person any explanation at all. In any event, I do that, I am a person of worth. I am someone who is asked to carry a lot. To choose between difficult things.
To manage a lot of stuff. I am also a person who is stronger than anyone might have guessed. Who when forced to choose, does. Time and time again. I also see clearly now that I am the person that it is ok to set adrift. So if I’m asked again, I will say that too. Though, maybe by then I will have embraced the sweetness and freedom of the space I’ve been given. Whatever happens from here, I do know I am deserving of this pause in the juggling of my responsibilities. It will be a long time before I might be so graced again.
The needs of my children have weighed upon me so much. For as much wonder and joy as they’ve given, oh my goodness, there has been a price to pay. And, it is ok for me to take this breath. And a nap. And to eat beignets at midnight. To leave my towels in a heap on the floor and my bra draped over a chair, two days in a row.
To walk barefoot in the sand. To lose myself in endless miles of trails. To twitch a grin to anyone I choose. To arch a brow and consider all manner of silly zig-zagging things. To drink coffee slowly and to listen to the way the water moves. I’m sorry the phone disconnected.
I would have tried to say something, and maybe I would have even been heard. I would have tried in some way to reach back across the distance. I would have listened hard to see if there was a way to change course. To move back toward, instead of away. It was another opportunity lost.
So, yes. I’ll enjoy my vacation. And, I’ll make my way home again. Of course, I will. I doubt I’ll ever have reason to return to this place in my lifetime again. Which is probably why at this moment I am perfectly content to embrace the light feeling. The swirling bubbling quietness of feeling myself flowing so sweetly adrift.