Sometime after 930 I snuck into the car and drove away. Having finished cooking and cleaning dinner, and baking my own birthday cake for tomorrow, I felt sufficiently worked for the day; I saw my opportunity and I did not skip a beat.
I’ve always been a person who craves being alone. If I had to choose my time would be filled with nature, God, music, and a healthy internal dialogue so that I can use that space productively. I really do my best thinking – sometimes “not thinking” – when I am in solitude. Driving, I find that I can wander through problems, work through feelings, and at times I’ve even recently process heavy anxiety – coming to breakthroughs at the end of a familiar long and winding road. John is a trooper, and it speaks to how well and deeply he understands me, that he gives me the time I need to just, well, go. Away. Into the space between my head and my heart, where connections are made, and I am able to find solid ground and equilibrium. I am grateful for it more than I can say. Especially tonight.
The air in Texas tonight was warm, a good 72 degrees, yet a thick fog heavy over the dark roads make it feel like it should be Autumn. The breeze through rolled-down windows smelled of blooming flowers and fresh cut grass – all this in conflict quite a lot for my senses to grapple with. A smile crept over my face several times, from deep inside my heart; it really was a beautiful drive. Peaceful. Like the world is moving forward even when everything feels so still. I drive these back roads through the country because it is as close to nature as I can get without getting out and walking with bare feet, and there are hundreds more stars the further you get from lights of the city.
I’ve been thinking a great deal about going home recently. We scheduled a trip to Washington for the end of July, and I am already lost in day dreams about that land I once called my own. While driving tonight I put on a particular shuffle of songs that would conjure memories, bring up home so easily, and while the wind blew my hair, while my lips sang along, I ventured back.
… It was not until recently I understood my tendency to look back, how I am more nostalgic than most, why commercials make me cry, and why I hold onto things – emotional things – far beyond what might seem healthy. I take great comfort in knowing now that I am not alone in how I process and experience the world, and have thus too grown more comfortable in, well, being me. It has taken a lot of intentional work to accept this part of myself because I am often chastised for it. Being “too sensitive”, and always hearing “why can’t you let that go?” About any gosh-darn thing, from the first cat I had as a pet that still makes me cry, to knowing that thing you said that hurt me that one time, that one day, by the garage when it was raining outside. Did I mention I remember everything? Life is too short not to just be authentic, however, so especially when it comes to expressing myself in writing, I explore even the parts of myself that make other people, and sometimes, myself, uncomfortable. That. Is. How. You. Heal. (Love yourself – it really is a thing).
I ventured back to you when Van Morrison started playing. I ventured back when I sang along to fifty other songs that take me right back to those familiar streets, where we grew up. Here I am, lost somewhere on a backstreet in Texas, empty grey roads hidden under laden fog, my headlights fighting to penetrate the thick clouds meeting the warm earth. The music knows what to do, and my heart expands as my chest rises with each new breath, letting it wash over me, what may come. Thoughts of you. Your smile. Your music. Your cigarette and calloused hands. Your philosophy about life and how I understood your heart so well.
Going home always makes me think of you.
What I feel now is not a longing, not anymore. I could show precisely, how it used to be – I have the words somewhere in this very blog, I am sure. It is not that I should possess you, not that you are mine and how dare you abandon me. What I feel is not regret, nor would I even say that I am sad (what a victory that is, indeed).
As I imagine returning home, and you come to mind, what I feel now is resolution to the truth, and in this space I am presently watching myself evolve, moving from possessive love to unconditional love. I know the course our lives have taken; I know the choices we’ve made to arrive precisely here. I know that I tried to hold space for us, for an exceptionally long time, because carrying that burden was all I could do to keep you with me. I thought that carrying our love would repair the bitterness, and that one day it would have been for a noble cause, but all it did was pull me away from being content in the present time. Even as I began to wake up to this new way of looking at things, even as I began to see how I could set this down, I spent a good year or so fighting it. It has been uncomfortable as hell to take this burden apart, to live my life now having set it down, piece by piece – adapting, changing, as a person, as a result.
I always thought there would be no end to you and me. For years, because of the intensity of that bond, and because tragedy intervened, and I had no say – it could not possibly be that this was our story? Could it? Then time goes by, another month, another year, another baby, another life, another dream with another person on a different path in a separate part of the world. Reality comes along and the dreams must end. I always thought this was such a sad part of life, and I agree even now that indeed there are few worse things than the end of love.
I set out last year, 2019, to really get to the root, the heart, the point of which things shifted for my soul. Moments of darkness, struggle, pain, disappointment, abandonment. I took two medicinal approaches – The MAPS MDMA Protocol, and four ceremonies with the plant medicine Ayahuasca in Costa Rica. These experiences, these treatments if you will, were intentionally thought-out, meticulously researched, and then researched some more, and served the intent of healing from pain, trauma, and anxiety. One of the greatest and deepest reasons I went this far, this intensely, into this process was to heal from losing this story – losing this love. I needed to heal from losing you, but I first had to accept that I had, indeed, lost you. Once I grieved that, in the safe medicine space, something shifted, something changed. I am healing now in a way I never have, and I can credit last year for this. That, and the 14 years I’ve done until now; it all plays a part in arriving here, present. Intentionally calling you to mind and examining what happens in my body, in my being, as I see your handsome face so clearly.
I am still trying to unravel it all, the work I did last year, and perhaps because my mind is a weaving tapestry changing from day to day, who knows if I will ever be “done” processing my feelings for us, and that time of our life, but right now I feel peaceful, grateful, for at least being aware that I am not “where I once was”. This grief and this loss is a process, each therapy experience taught me that for sure. There are layers, and protection mechanisms, and coping habits, false memories and triggering truths. A beautiful, entangled and deeply-rooted structure of vines; I’ve anchored them well in fertile soil all these years. I’ve watered this space and tended to it perhaps more than any other thing in the landscape of my mind; this work got me through many long, lonely nights when I had nothing else to hope for but to sew our love once more and watch it bloom.
I got to see how my mind created this place where you and I still exist. Where our love continued and grew, the way we desired for it to go, and then I got to experience the ending. It was brutal, dark, painful. A death… I grieved this therapy session for months.
Very clearly you and I walked the shoreline beside the ocean. We were dressed in black, mourning, we came upon a grave dug in the wet sandy beach. I turned to you, veil shielding my eyes, and watched you begin to throw our memories into the hole. I cried out, begging you to stop, until I knew, I knew – I had to do the same thing. And so together we threw our life together into this grave. As my mind worked through this, this grief, I remember I spoke aloud saying, “no, not this one, can I keep this memory?” Of various things – precious moments we shared together that I did not want to lose to this death – the death of us. Even as I wept, speaking aloud to spare this or that, pleading with God through weeping tears to hold on to your smile, your embrace, your guitar strumming and the sleepy kisses we shared each morning, I willingly and painfully obliged to the task, until there was nothing left to place inside our grave. You stood up and walked away from me, your back towards me, and you never looked back.
There was a great sadness to that scene, but also, such a treasure for me – because I know that it was my mind’s way of coming to terms with that loss, finally. My brain, my psyche, my spirit, my heart, all in alignment – all agreeing, it is time for this one to go. And where is the one place you cannot return from? Death. I literally experienced what it was like to bury our relationship, bury our love, with you – cosmically, spiritually. I cannot say how the healing comes, and I had so little control, if any at times, over what came to me – so the profound nature of this, it was not lost on me. Still is not. That my mind would give me this death. The end of us we never got. Our story ended, it had to. My hand was forced, or so I thought, until it became too late to set things right. I have been forced to make peace with that, but I did not go gently.
Driving tonight, I thought of you, and I sang along to the music that used to be ours. I sang along to the songs that remind me of you, and I smiled almost the entire time.
It used to hurt me to let you come in so clearly. It used to hurt me, to even think about going home. Especially now, knowing you won’t be there… Two years ago, that would have killed me inside.
I am healing, finally.
I am loving you as you deserve to be loved. Free and with only pure intent. No longer keeping you locked within me, no longer in the chains of thinking things should have been different. Accepting what is, presently. Where I am, and who I am.
Going home will always remind me of you. That town, those streets. I fell in love for the first time in your arms, and we built a life together in that cool wet soil. Darkness comes, sometimes. Sometimes it just steals joy and leaves you breathless. Those tall trees, that little house on that long and winding road. A thousand memories I thought about tonight, venturing back when The Strangest Thing came on and I wondered if you sing this song, too.
“You can write your story, turn into love again”
I threw so much into that cold shore with you. Our life together. Our story. The great memories, the broken endings. The thousands of words we’ve never been able to share. I gave it all to the death of us, but I am greatly rejoicing now in understanding that even death does not steal love. It may have taken our story, and our future, but the love remains. It lives in my heart. On the long and winding roads when you steal away two hours with nothing but the sweet wind and nostalgic music off your lips. You come back to me here, and tonight, I welcomed it. Love, that love does not die. What a gift, to grow but still keep what always was, is, and will be.
Healing feels so good. At least, today it does.
Some road, some day soon, back to the land where we grew up. I’ll sneak out at 930 at night and meet the pines along the river… July moon, and the songs that take me back. I’ll be smiling then, growing still, looking back and being okay with it.
I’ll still miss you then; hopefully it won’t hurt at all.