The River

We’d had our biggest fight yet. Everything from our hearts crashed down on our heads.

I exploded.
I jerked something I’d made for you off the wall and threw it to the kitchen floor. It broke in half, ricocheting into your knee.
You exploded.
And then we broke each other. We slept in separate rooms for the very first time. I felt like this was truly the beginning of the end. Hopeless despair filled my belly and I emptied the contents into the toilet. I felt weaker than I’d ever felt in my entire life. This is it, I thought. This is the last time I pour my heart into a man. 

Oh but what a profoundly beautiful innocence that resides in this imperfect man…

It was 5:30 AM. I was unable to sleep all night, so finally, I turned to social media for distraction. I saw a friend talking about her desire to let friends go who she felt like did not make an effort to speak to her. It saddened me, because I felt like I was one of those friends who had let our bond dissolve over the past few years. I decided to send her a text message and tell her I love and miss her. I was happy to hear back from her immediately, because she and her boyfriend had experienced a similar situation, fought, and then fought for each other. I asked her for advice, just as she had asked for mine a year prior. She told me that forgiveness is a good thing, but to also be strong and stand by my conviction. I knew at that point what I needed to do.

I got out of bed. I fed our dogs. And then I opened the door, and walked outside. I walked and walked. No phone, no note, no coffee, no water, no food, no real worry in my head. I just wanted to feel the freedom I had sacrificed for so long only to feel this bleak emptiness in the end. I wanted to regain my strength, my wisdom, my self.

My body gravitated towards a river he had taken me to while he was still interested in showing me the new and spectacular wonders I had never experienced before. The place he knew, and knew I would love. I thought in my head, if he comes looking for me, I’ll try. If he doesn’t, I’ll know. A Bob Dylan song, my favorite Dylan song, popped into my head.

We never did too much talkin’ anyway, but don’t think twice, it’s alright…

You just kinda wasted my precious time, but don’t think twice, it’s alright.

I hiked. The unkempt trail had been neglected and I preferred it that way. No traffic, no worry. I took a crooked stick and wound spiderwebs in it as I walked. I never tripped, as I usually did. I was regaining my confidence, I was feeling alive. Approaching the bridge that made things easy, I decided to avoid it. So I placed the webbed stick on the ground for a spider to enjoy a future feast, and walked down to the river bank. I took my shoes off and tied the strings together and slung the shoes around my neck. I stepped onto the stone and looked around. I saw a blue heron. I saw my reflection. And I reflected for some time.

I looked around for a walking stick. I began wading through the water, carefully. I was timid at first, unsure of the creatures that might lurk below. I soon realized it was just me, the earth, and the river. The sun shewn bright and the air was crisp. The water was clear and perfect- not too hot or too cold. I could see the rock formations below, and found it rather easy to navigate downstream. Approaching a wider and deeper area, I decided to immerse myself under the water. I came up, cleansed and refreshed. Rather than crying as I surely would have before the thing that happened the night before, I smiled. I laughed then. I had forgiven myself, and followed my forgiveness with the extension of more forgiveness for him. My man.

My mate.

I never felt so strong. Despite having no sleep, no energy, no food, no fuel, and no safety net, I felt so alive. I had guessed (correctly) that a few hours had passed since I had closed the door behind me without saying a word to anyone, so I decided it was smart to make my journey home. I climbed out of the water onto the rock. I threaded myself through the briers and foliage and easily found the trail. My heart was singing, so I decided to let the song escape my lips.

I walked home. I pictured him flinging the door open and running down the driveway to receive me with open arms. I wanted him to embrace me and stroke my dreaded hair. I wanted him to notice my wet, dirty body- my ruggedness- first, and my newly revealed cleansed, happy soul- my gentleness- last. I wanted to say “I forgive you”, regardless of whether he had been looking for me or not. But as I approached the cemetery, I saw his truck. I stopped as I watched to see which direction he would turn at the intersection. I thought he would turn right, towards the river… towards me. But the silver Sequoia with black rims turned left. I was relieved, I wasn’t ready to see him yet. I didn’t want him to find me here, so alive among the dead. I was unearthed. But he wasn’t there as I’d pictured in my head when I returned.

You can’t always get what you want. And this is life.

She found the keys in the other Sequoia, her mauve with factory rims Sequoia. He always locked the doors to protect the preciousness that was inside, but always thoughtfully left the keys for her somewhere, and she always instinctively knew where they were hidden. And just like every single time before, she was greeted by happy, slobbery faces and wagging tails.

I loved on each of the dogs, feeling more grateful than ever before to have them. I unclothed and stepped into the steaming shower. The water opened my pores and he walked through the door. I couldn’t speak, and neither could he. We both weren’t sure where to begin, but we both knew what we wanted to say without hesitation.

I love you.

I got dressed and put on the coffee. It was 10 AM then, the latest I’d made coffee in a very long time. We sat down and sipped from our mugs and talked. Only this time, it wasn’t the usual “So what do you wanna do today?” It was deeper, like me and, yes- like you. And we knew everything would get better over time. We knew we would have to take things day by day, just as we had been. And rather than me opening up about my insecurities and my doubts, and getting the usual “It’s all good”, you listened.
We talked for hours that day. And that night, we held each other and slept peacefully. You dream of rainbows and I dream of tornadoes, those symbolic dreams we’ve shared with each other before, only this time mine was different. This time, I dreamed of both, and the ever lingering tornado engulfed the rainbow, and the rainbow transformed into a colorful lightning bolt, bursting with energy inside the tornado.

For the first time in a long time, I felt “It’s all good” was something actually attainable, because it was something I knew took work. Now I could see you had finally realized the same. And one day, when we get to that bridge, we’ll either make our leisurely stroll across, or we’ll make a detour and find our own way- down the river… together, just where we want to be.

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