August 16, 2014

For the Record

When I would play my song
You would sing along.
I always seemed to forget 
How fragile are the very strong.

For the record, I did the work.

I walked Back Cove in chilly October air, with the sun setting too soon, swallowed the tears, force-filled my lungs, and took another lap. I made the decision. Until it wasn't mine to make anymore. December. The news was quick and painful, but nothing like a ripped-off band-aid, instead the dull swoosh of a balloon deflating. After, I closed the bathroom door, strung together profanities, hurled them into the mouth piece of the phone, and she listened. Until it all became quiet. The Weather Channel blinking on the television screen through the night, tucked into the couch with a cranberry afghan. I studied for the final exam. I aced it. I let her hold me. I don't remember tears, although they must have arrived, singular, at least. Or perhaps not. A Bird's Song on repeat. Half the Carvel ice cream cake for New Year's Eve. Another's TV showing the countdown, I turned it off and went to bed.

I'm sorry I can't steal you.
I'm sorry I can't stay.
So I'll put band-aids on your knees 
And watch you fly away.

March. I decided to buy a plane ticket. Late March. I decided to buy a bus ticket instead. A summer ticket for a shorter ride. Early April. I decided to decide later. Until that decision wasn't mine to make anymore. July. I walked the hot concrete sidewalks of DC in the heavy summer humidity. Mile and miles and miles. Every weekend. Between the Lines, on repeat. Step by step and mile by mile, I walked away. A meditation, a steadiness. Until knees down on the shower floor, a release, a flood, head down, the water gushing but only my tears streaming over my knees. A deep breath, a good night's sleep, the sound of my feet against the concrete, the piano notes memorized, I kept walking. 

I'm sending you away tonight.
I'll put you on bird's strong wing.
I'm saving you the best way I know how.
I hope again one day to hear you sing.

Fall leaves and heavy winter snow and a life to sort through. Different types of decisions to make. Ones only I could make. And I did. For myself. For my life. One foot in front of the other, slow if not steady. Through the changing seasons. Yes's and no's and a life. My life. Changing cities and changing careers and changing hands who reach for me, a life in motion. 

A promise to myself under a big, old tree, in front of a big, old church, walking through a historic section of DC, summers later. An old mixed CD in a brand new rental car as I drove through the mountains a decade later, and the old restroom stall almost too tiny for a cry. I was too close and too far away. An expert in letting go, I drove on. I kept walking. 

For the record.  

I'm sending you away tonight.

I'll put you on a bird's strong wing.
I'm saving you the best way I know how.
I hope again one day to hear you sing.
I'm saving you the only way that I know how.
I hope again one day to hear you sing.
I hope again one day to see you bring your smile back around 

[Italics: Lyrics to "A Bird's Song" by Ingrid Michaelson]

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