Dearest You,It’s been awhile since we’ve talked. Really talked.
I wish we could sit in that café where we shared a loveseat; I rested my head upon your wide shoulders and you slowly inhaled the scent of my hair, kissing the top of my head.
Or we could meet in my car where I’d feel your strong hands wrapped in mine, your lips pressed against them.
If we were in your bed, I’d savor one last time the weight of your thick legs curled around mine, nose buried in my neck, chills cascading down my back.
Mostly, I wish we were on my sofa – where you said you loved me – so we could breathe in this moment of truth.
I’d look into your unsteady eyes, hoping you’d see my heart.
But you are in another state.
On a business trip.
Picking out furniture with your new girlfriend.
Planting seeds to harvest with other women.
In a bar at 2 a.m., asking to come over.
You know I write to process, to navigate the unknown and become clear.
It’s how I face myself.
It’s how I face the truth.
It’s how I’m facing you.
My words are all I have to give you.
It seems only fair to let you know that the stories I’ve written in my life are changing.
Stepping back, I see the similarities.
In each of you, I see the intricate ways you intersect in my heart with common themes of inconsistency, unavailability, and dishonesty all woven together with patches of vibrant beauty and moments of tender sincerity. None of it black and white.
It’s an artful, literary display of lessons spread across faces, across years.
Each of you etched upon my skin a powerful, repetitive myth.
One I am done with.
My whole being aches for a new story.
It is time to feel the steady pulse of my worth.
I am ready to consciously dream new patterns into creation.
I will weave words of golden flowers along my spine.
I will spin all your patchwork lessons into a delicate crown and place it upon my head.
In this story, I choose nothing less than love.
In this story, I choose me.
If you’re brave, come sit with me.
Feel my warm palms against your cheeks.
Hear me say that I love your wild, red flamed spirit; your blue throated wisdom; your radiant sun of a soul. This is how I saw you: the real you, your true essence.
Now, too, I see the tempered version of this you choose to be … and the dulled version I chose to be with you.
Feel my hands slowly leave your face.
Be well. Be happy. I wish for you all that you need.
…It’s time for me to go.
I have a new story to write.
I met a woman – a stranger – at the swimming pool yesterday. There was only one other person in the pool besides me and she asked both of us, “Is it OK if I dive in the pool? I know we’re not really supposed to, but sometimes … you just need to have a little fun.”
Immediately, I began watching her with some form of anticipation – what kind of dive would she do? Would she use the diving board? No, she jumped in from the edge. Head first.
She wasn’t a spring chicken, either. Soon, she began talking to me – strangers often do that, so I’m not unaccustomed to it – and shared intimate details of her life. Tragic. Sad. The kind that would drop you deep into the ocean and make you never want to swim back.
As we swam and she told me about the grief she has experienced, pain swept through her eyes and I could see that hurt was there … just there; yet there was hope. Like a teenager or tween, she had dove in the deep water and came out smiling. It didn’t take long before hope emerged across her face, too … she had more fun this summer than she had in years, she said. Her smile was infectious.
This woman talked about her love for her ex-husband, how they are best friends, yet she is immensely happy with a different man whom she loves. They plan to get married.
Her honesty was raw, unapologetic, sincere. I admired her. She loved hard – at least twice – and though the definition of the relationships changed, her love was still there.
It reminded me of a Jane Austen quote, “There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not in my nature.” (italics, mine)
I get Ms. Austen. And I’m pretty sure the swimming-stranger gets Ms. Austen, too.
Which brings me to the wonderful Adrienne Rich quote at the beginning of this post. Yes, sometimes people just show up in your life and suddenly, or not-so-suddenly, there is love. Are you fated or destined? Or doomed? Rich says no.
But love isn’t ever an accident. Love isn’t a car crash. It shouldn’t be the death of you. The relationship may not last – but that doesn’t mean it’s dead or you’re dead or that it didn’t matter.
Sometimes, when it’s truly love (when the love you have is about understanding the other person and seeing them – the real them, and about helping them remember who they really are – and about you remembering who you really are [which may mean that to be your true self, you can’t be in that relationship anymore]) then I think it is what was meant to be. And that love doesn’t fade.
That real love can pass through grief, through continents, through regret, through oceans, through sleepless and tender nights under a tree, through children, through years … and lead you back to remembering something about yourself, that part you buried … so that then you can move forward (together or not) with a little piece of yourself put back in place.
It’s not about definitions. It’s not about time. It’s not about pieces of paper. It’s about what Jane Austen said: being a friend and not loving in halves.
You go on, and you love in full parts. Not parts. You love whole. You love hard. You love deep. And nothing else has to happen. You just … love.
And then, you grab your love and your heart, you spread your arms up over your head, smile, and dive deep into that water. And swim.
I love words and rhythm, so it’s probably not much of a surprise that I fall swiftly into the arms of poetry, read, and swoon.
On Becky in Burma, I used to post some of my work, but after learning some literary magazines consider that publication (and many magazines won’t accept previously published work), I took them promptly down.
Though I will not share any of my poetry with you, I do want to share a poem that I often return to for strength. Many of you are also going through a divorce, a separation, or are single. My hope is that this gives you some hope for the future, too.
A WOMAN ALONE
By Denise Levertov (one of my most favorite poets … ever)
When she cannot be sure
which of two lovers it was with whom she felt
this or that moment of pleasure, of something fiery
streaking from head to heels, the way the white
flame of a cascade streaks a mountainside
seen from a car across the valley, the car
changing gear, skirting a precipice,
When she can sit or walk for hours after a movie
talking earnestly and with bursts of laughter
with friends, without worrying
that it’s late, dinner at midnight, her time
spent without counting the change …
When half of her bed is covered with books
and no one is kept awake by the reading light
and she disconnects the phone, to sleep till noon…
selfpity dries up, a joy
untainted by guilt lifts her.
She has fears, but not about loneliness;
fears about how to deal with the aging
of her body-how to deal
with photographs and the mirror. She feels
so much younger and more beautiful
than she looks. At her happiest
-or even in the midst of
some less than joyful hour, sweating
patiently through a heatwave in the city
or hearing the sparrows at daybreak, dully gray,
toneless, the sound of fatigue-
a kind of sober euphoria makes her believe
in her future as an old woman, a wanderer,
seamed and brown,
little luxuries of the middle of life all gone,
watching cities and rivers, people and mountains,
without being watched; not grim nor sad,
an old winedrinking woman, who knows
the old roads, grass-grown, and laughs to herself…
She knows it can’t be:
that’s Mrs.Doasyouwouldbedoneby from
no one can walk the world any more,
a world of fumes and decibels.
But she thinks maybe
she could get to be tough and wise, some way,
anyway. Now at least
she is past the time of mourning,
now she can say without shame or deciet,
O blessed Solitude.