I visited my friend Edward in New York City two weeks ago. It had been far too many years since I'd seen him last and the aftershocks of old love made new have been reverberating through me like a tornado that arrived suddenly after all the other storms had passed. Old memories and new feelings have surged up and knocked me down like a toddler in a tidal wave. I don't know if it's bad or good or if there's anything to be done about it other than to stand up, get the sand out of my hair and saltwater out of my mouth. The fish flapping in my bathing suit might be here to stay.
On the way to a writing retreat last weekend in the mountains of rural Virginia, I listened to his gorgeous, heart-wrenching mix tapes and CD's spanning 20 years and the music pried me open like an instrument plucked through from sound to soundlessness. A buried treasure unearthed, the shine and sparkle and gleam, blinding. Love blindness. Like an unexpected hug from a lion, a grizzly bear. Will it kill me to hug back? Will it kill me if I don't? Will I have to re-bury this love dug up fresh from its grave? Because even requited love can hurt. The first time you see the face of your child, you are suddenly aware of how much you have to lose. Can I allow myself to love someone with such wild abandon, with such little reservation knowing now all that I do?
Because our love existed in a suspended state of grace during the darkest years of my life, never spoiled by sex or the mundane hell of the day to day. He saw me when I was unseen, loved me when I was unloved, believed I could dance and hike and sing when I believed none of those things myself. He took me skinny dipping and camping and driving all over this country from one state to the next, over the rivers and through the hills, from the city to the wilderness and back again. He came down to Hell, stayed with me for a while and then pulled me out. How do you ever get over that? I'm pulling the heavy, velvet cloak of who we were tighter around my shoulders, wondering in which closet I can hang us now.
And that's the real work I'm doing here. Figuring out how to reassemble myself into a human woman, wife and mother without losing- or becoming- the girl I was. I can't re inhabit that body or that life or that time, I have to have the patience to let who I am, who we are now, unfold. There is something eternal, bright and beautiful about being a wild thing loved by a wild thing, even if we had to grow up and grow away and live in other places and get jobs and marry other people. I loved Edward's beautiful, kind, intelligent husband and he loved mine. We are who and where we are supposed to be, and my hope now is not to live or love in a suspended state of grace, but a very present and timeless one.
(This piece is an assemblage of several different ten minute pieces written between 8/15 and 8/26)