May 22, 2011

May Catharsis

I didn't say a lot last May.* I dove in, head first, and came up for air only when I thought my lungs heart would explode. It did. It lit up the sky. Fireworks and seven lives later, I found myself in June. Renditions of love harmonized, last May still drives my every vital sign.

I packed my things in boxes earlier than necessary and fell asleep among cardboard stacks that felt like wide open spaces. Ready. So very ready. He came before the funeral celebration of life and I jumped on the bed of the truck and jumped down. I know well not to pack a box heavier than I can carry, but two sets of arms makes the process faster and the heart lighter. I held her hand as the casket descended but that evening I poured myself a glass of red wine as soon as I flung off the black dress. I joined my roommate and his friend on the couch but never finished my glass. Fell asleep to the sound of the game and woke to lights too bright for 2am. He was asleep on the red chair next to me. The windows wide open.

Mid-afternoon in early May, I drained my cell phone battery holding back a too-soon conclusion - yes, she is it - and waiting for a promised phone call that never arrived. We talked around it and through it and, a year later, our analysis didn't stop what we gained and what we lost. Who he gained and who I lost. Who we lost. All that expands and contracts.

I graduated. In abstentia, technically, although I don't know a pair of eyes that saw the program. I didn't cross the stage but I did pick myself up off the ground when something so insignificant plus the weight of the year (the last four years?) landed me in sobs on my bedroom floor days before finals ended. I didn't need to walk across the stage, I just needed to stand up. Deep breaths and a congratulations.

They have carried me for years, almost a decade. I floated the weekend we spent together. Too many years had passed since we were all together. That weekend everything fell quiet except the sound of our laughter. Lives woven together and spread out. I am. I am. I am. Effortless joy. Unconditional. Involuntary.

That weekend, I fell into belief again. The room spun but he caught me. And set me down to stand on my own.

I celebrated love the next day. I watched the girl I knew at 14 say "I do" again to her husband of two years and then bend down to pick up her beautiful daughter.

We drove nine hours across state lines to pick up our her spring Blossom. Twice a rescue, I still offer the reminder, "We had to leave that very day; everyone wanted you. Remember the lady at the orphanage? She said the phone was ringing off the hook for you... 'If I hear Blossom's name one more time...'" And she gives me puppy kisses that never age.

I returned. To the place I had just left. To a perfect May afternoon and the waves crashing against the coast. And the deep and steady knowledge that this is it. We all cried when he looked up at her coming down the aisle and brushed a tear away. Gorgeous, tender, and strong.

Twenty four hours later, I stepped on a plane exhausted and exhilarated, having fallen somewhere between the hands of time. I spent two weeks in that betwixt and between, furloughed from the past and the future. Liminality without the ritual. Partway through the two weeks, the train rounded a bend and I gasped at the snow-capped peaks standing before us. Majestic mountains will stand for eternity. It hit me quickly: I cannot harm this life. (Not in the ways I was worried about.) And set me free. 

I arrived home in June to the ticking of the clock, but I kept with me the beating of my heart and the expansion of my lungs. The expansion of my world. Last May came as the present, and I'm still unwrapping it a year later. 

[*Often, my headheart arrive here so much later (days, months, years...) than I, than we, expect.]

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