I try hard to find events I need to attend. Milestones I want to see. Thanksgiving, the birth of my best friend’s baby, a trip to Minneapolis. I search for anything that is too important to miss. My three-year sober anniversary, teaching winter term, moving in with Andrew. There is always beauty to anticipate. I just have to find it. And like Sage Francis said, “If you snoop around long enough for something in particular you’re guaranteed to find it.”
So I keep looking. And I keep hushing down the part of me who says I’ll never find them.
Photo courtesy of Tim Mossholder.
We dance and scream and get sweaty.
We forget everything happening
outside of those crackling speakers
in that tiny basement club.
We remember what it feels like
to be safe in our own skin.
We become a unit, an undulating mass
of hands and arms and stomping feet.
We do not exist outside of this.
We are invincible.
We are free.
Photo courtesy of Hannah Rodrigo .
In the envelope went a selection of Christmas cards addressed to the two of us. Several pictures. A couple love notes. The boarding pass from the plane I took from Oakland to Seattle. Random keepsakes collected over the years. My passport. A necklace, my sobriety ring, and my wedding set. And, of course, the certified copies of our marriage and divorce certificates. I closed the clasp and brought it to my parents’ house. Asked my mom to put it in the safe deposit box and that was it. An entire life with someone distilled down to a manila envelope to be tucked into a vault and possibly never brought out again.
I asked Mason if we had any other business after the final check was mailed. After the phone plan was broken up. After the car keys were exchanged. Part of me wanted him to say yes, even though I knew we didn’t have anything left to sort out, nothing to discuss. I just wanted him to tell me he wasn’t ready for me to leave his life yet. But he didn’t. Another time I wanted him to show up, but couldn’t bring myself to ask. A beautifully distilled example of our entire relationship. Neither of us ever being able to ask for what we need. Separated by more than space and time. There was always a wall between us. Something to keep ourselves out and the other person in. Or maybe it was the other way around. It doesn’t matter now, does it?
So this is what it feels like to close off a section of your life. To remember a time with someone, but to know it will never be repeated. There are no second chances here. We do not recycle and come back. It’s over. And that’s just the kind of thing we have to let ourselves believe. We have to hold on to. We have to learn to need. This is moving on.
Andrew pulls his car up next to mine, Astronautalis’ “Guard the Flame” blaring out the windows. I climb inside and we both sing as loud as we can, “Fuck it, if I was that smart, I’d never learned your name…” The music dies and we breathe in deep in unison. Wait, wait, wait. Scream. The sun beats down hard on my face. “One hand strikes the match. One hand guards the flame.” He reaches across the center console of the car and puts his hand in mine. We’re alive.
It’s waking up from something. Breaking out of the sludge I’d been encased in for years. The one that always made me feel broken and afraid. The one that, for whatever reason, my marriage learned to perpetuate. The constant nervous aching of not being enough for someone. Of letting them down. Of losing. Of quitting. Of giving up. I don’t know how we fell into that pattern and I wish we never did. But we did. And that was it.
And here we are. Cut loose. I’m standing in a crowd screaming. My hands are in the air. And for the first time in a long time I am not afraid of being undeserving. I am powerful and lovable and strong. I am unafraid of love because I know how it feels to lose it and how it feels to find it again. How it feels to have it find you. How it feels to be in it with someone who sees you and isn’t afraid of what they’re seeing.