February 14, 2011

A Backwards Glance At The Crossroads

We left almost every day during the lunch hour. Some days we would actually pick up soup, cookies, coffee from the tiny organic store downtown before driving to the next town to pick up the office mail. The window always cracked slightly, even on the days our doors froze shut, and usually Melissa Ferrick sang on repeat. The drive took 30 minutes, slightly longer if the cows wandered into the road. Even longer if no one noticed that they had wandered.

Some days, we enjoyed the absence of voices and dove into own own introverted, silent thoughts. A break from a busy office and the kids always in the next room. The kids were the best part of our day, why we were there, but the noontime escape handed us clear heads and open eyes. Some days, we spewed. Immediately. Upon entering the car. Life dissection came at rapid pace as we worked through the Important Things. The windows cracked. Melissa on repeat. Our voices louder than the ones we left.

Five years ago, I would climb into her tissue box car and wonder what our lives would look like in the future. Wonder if the crossroads I saw ahead were really there or just mirages we created knowing we needed changes. Wonder if we had the strength to finally mend or finally break parts of our lives.

That spring, when we could crack the windows a little deeper if we turned the heat a little higher, I would climb into her tissue box car and ask her how to save a life. And she would listen as I unraveled. Untangle the darkness. Braid my strengths together. So I could do it for someone else. Someone else who didn't deserve darkness and needed light. Someone else whose joy could shine so brightly but whose tears drown us all. Someone too young to feel depths of despair. I took hold of her young hand, certain I could not pull her out and certain I would not let go. When my strength drained, I would climb into the tissue box car and she would let me sit and watch the snow melt as we passed by.

Summer finally came as a whirlwind of hope and light. Hard fought and well won. Windows down, bowing to the rush of fresh air, the sun beaming and radiant. We smiled on 'til July. Squinted through the windshield at the crossroads ahead and knew that even if we couldn't see it clearly, we could still navigate the turns.

Five years later, they are both at the crossroads of joy. Perhaps, we all are. States and highways and timezones between us, we share good news. Joyful news. Life altering, life creating, life purpose news. I could not have imagined the wonderful places that we are all in today. Places of strength. Places of determination and gentleness. Places of light and joy.

I didn't have to wonder about the crossroads all those years ago. We had the strength to break and to mend all along. To these women, older and younger than I, at completely different places in life than each other and than I: I am so very, very proud of you.

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