I still remember the night we got home. Ruidoso remains my favorite place to think of. It feels like another planet now, not only because we traveled across a burnt desert to get there, but because of what came out of it. Two totally different people, leaving the crackling mountain heat for the humid May air, transformed. I knew I loved you before I left and you knew you loved me by the time we got back. I don’t focus on the semantics.
It was dark, and it was late. My apartment felt like a Motel 6 I’d never stepped foot in after the king-sized bed tucked under exposed beams where I knew I could do this. I could shed the independence I forged from the fires of my anger. I could still the atoms of my matter next to you late at night. Suddenly the life I found here felt like a bad fit, out of place. Somehow the trajectory I’d been on before and the one I was on now became futilely at odds. Like wandering from the Kentucky bluegrass into a bramble patch.
But this song was playing. My happy song. I’d discovered it the week before. It was playing loud and I was smiling as I unpacked. And my stomach was sinking slowly to my feet. I knew I could do this, I just didn’t know how I’d get there.
I feel deep sorrow for the versions of myself that trusted in last year’s many fool’s springs. Blackberry winters. Cold snaps in the dead of heat. I feel kinship and compassion and profound sadness for this version of me who had to drown before she could become water. I was never promised ease and certainty, and frankly I never asked for it, but I’ve always been too naive to plan for mistakes I didn’t know I was already making.
Sometimes I feel the pull of gravity more acutely. I feel like I’m being squeezed in a moment in time like a pinched nerve. Some days I wake up and this life I bled for feels heavy. I remember the moments that I desperately wanted to be happy but was weighted with exhaustion, with fear, with hopefulness that felt misplaced. I remember moments when I thought I was sewing my own sutures but I was just tearing at my skin. Oh, I’ve made so many messes. Such a volatile wake for a creature so focused on getting it right. How easily I can be convinced.
Some days I wake up and it all finds a way to pile onto my back. Some days nothing is wrong except for little words, long-dead hardships, phantom feelings of bruised arms and scraped knees. I don’t know why they visit and I don’t know how to tell them they’re not welcome. But I sit with them, for a time. I’m proud of the girl who went to Ruidoso and I’m proud of the girl who came back. I’m proud of the way she fell and the way she got back up. It’s not been simple nor has it been easy to walk her path. It’s been tremendously worthwhile, but some days, that’s not the focus. Some days I choose not to look towards the sun but rather the shadows behind me. It does me no good to focus on the bravery unless I acknowledge that I didn’t have to be. It does me no good to dwell in the pine trees and forget that I trekked a desert.