It is dark and warm. The cool water shimmers and swirls in front of me, calling me to fall into it. I close my eyes and imagine my body breaking the surface and sinking like a rock, cutting through with no resistance. The soft, surging liquid would swallow me, and I’d be gone. Just a rock with no choice in which way to fall.
There’s a slight breeze, but it doesn’t quite push off the way it feels as though the air is actually touching me. It’s the perfect kind of warm; it is the kind of warm a girl who grew up in the country can appreciate. The kind of warm that used to waft through my screened windows and call me out onto the front porch to stare at the moon and dream with my eyes open.
I’m sitting on the back deck at my parents’ house. It is not the house I grew up in. That is about 2 miles from here. It sits, full of memories and cobwebs. It sits empty, dark, and somber.
I have not driven past it on this visit home. I haven’t driven by and seen the room off the front porch where I would sit and wait for him. The place he would often come to for me. Where I would sometimes sit alone, disappointed.
I did drive past a road I used to turn right on almost every day, literally for years. That road took me to his home and his family, of which I was made to feel a part, so many times. It took me sometimes alone, and sometimes with him. It took me.
Like he had.
Every ounce of my heart was siphoned away, every piece of my soul seemed to have been drawn out. I would say it was painless, because, after all, I wanted it that way. But it would be more truthful just to say I must have enjoyed the pain. Or at least, that I endured it because I knew the prize was worth it.
I wanted it to be.
I’m sitting out here with a chorus of crickets and other nighttime crawlies singing me the sweet song of the country on a soft, close summer night. I feel comfortable here. I can stretch out my legs and breathe in the scent of flowers growing nearby. In this moment, no one needs me. I’m at peace. Just myself, in the dark, alone. Comfortable.
Over and over again I had put all of myself into him, willing him to be more and to somehow make me whole, as such. I piled upon him expectations and needs. I was not perfect. He was not perfect. We were not perfect. We were just us and us was foolish.
He-I lost me-him and we were both abandoned by the ending we thought was in store for us. I wanted promises, he needed freedom and choices. I needed validation and hope, he demanded space and what ifs. I was incapable of giving him what he needed while still finding my own answer. I was incapable of just letting go and being me – instead I wanted to draw myself from him, control him, manipulate his choices.
If I lay my head back and stare up into the sky, I see a black canvas for miles, dotted with brilliant, shiny specks of electricity and power from so far away. They gleam and sparkle; a new one seems to pop into the tapestry after every few beats of my heart. If I just stare this way for awhile, what I think I see and know changes over and over again.
I expect it to look a certain way, but I can’t control what unfolds before me. I have ideas about what is out there in my view, but it is flowing and changing constantly, right in front of me, and there is nothing I can do about it. Some of the changes are noticeable, some are imperceptible to me. I sense that.
It would be foolish of me to try to force the stars to stand out in the sky in a specific order. They would call me mad and lock me in padded rooms.
I’ll never really know if it was right to part ways. I think of him from time to time and I wonder who he is now. Is he still that same person who was my best friend, or is the man he has become someone different entirely? I don’t regret those years, or the ones that have followed. I’m not sure if life has turned out exactly how I’d hoped it would after I kissed him that last time and he turned away. What I do hope now, however, is that he is happy. Because I love him in some way still, and that’s been true since the day I walked away. I hope he is happy with the way the sky looks when he lays his head back.
I can close my eyes and the reams of paper that the story of my life stands starkly on flow through my mind. I can slow it down and inspect this and that. I can speed it up to avoid things. I can ponder over the way the ink fell and what the story might be like if it had been different. I can even look at the pages that lie ahead, waiting for the stab of the pen, with concern. I guess I can worry about those pages. I guess I can be afraid. I could try to control the pen that wants to flow on its own with fancy strokes and flourishes.
It would be silly.
The way the stars in the sky arrange themselves in a predictable and yet uncontrollable fashion is a beautiful thing. Every night they show up just the way they are supposed to, and they don’t need me to worry about it, or wonder if they are doing it right.
They end up where their paths intend them to, and that is that.
Like a stone falling into cool, deep waters, effortlessly.