Saturday, December 15, 2012

The World of What If

Yesterday morning, I sat in my cold car, on a street that's not my own, and watched the ice on the windshield crack and melt from the heat of my warming engine. In this strange, wonderful way it was beautiful: the warm air hitting the cold glass made formations that were like algae or fungus, blooms growing and shrinking before my tired eyes.

Just beyond the algae blooms, I watched this beautiful person, whom I've known only a short while, walk away. She stumbled over chunks of ice, her small dog skittering around her. It seemed unlikely I would see her again - or at least not anytime soon. Unlikely that this idea of "us" would go any further than this moment - which happened to consist of me shivering in my car and she shivering a few yards away on the sidewalk. It seemed terrible that we were both shivering alone. I suddenly wished I'd looked at her for one moment longer than I had. I wanted to jump out of my cold car and hold her, so at the very least we could be shivering side-by-side.

Even if you sense something is ending, there is a moment of panic in the moment you realize it's crumbling: have I gotten my bearings? Have I taken in this last moment? Can't I just look into your eyes one more time before you walk out of my life? Maybe it's the cartographer in me: the part of me that needs a map to look back on, a map to see where I got off course, but also where the views were noble.

So there I was in my car, about to drive off, looking at my own little tragedy, unaware that across the country small, innocent lives were coming to an abrupt, violent end.

Life feels very sadly poetic in this way.

I've held off on putting to paper my feelings about this new person in my life, not because I was doubting what was so unexpectedly occurring, but because I was just simply enjoying it for once and wanted to do nothing but enjoy it. Oh, to just share time with someone witty and smart! Time feels so limitless and yet so full when the company is good. Holding hands and drinking tea, sending flirty, careful texts, making snowpeople together in the fast-falling flakes, laughing wildly in bed, whispering our hopes, and talking about who we were and who we could be, as individuals mostly, but also, possibly, together.

Today I've spent a lot of time not wanting to be out in the world. I haven't wanted to face a world that can be so cruel on such large scales and also so heartbreaking to individual lives.

I've been living in the world of what if. What if past relationships didn't bruise and challenge and destroy us a little? What if we felt free and open to letting love in, despite...? What if family baggage didn't haunt us and past failures didn't follow us? What if the timing was always right? What if everything could just work out for once? Does the world actually operate like that? What if it did?

I've been wondering, also, what it means to be ready. She and I chatted this morning and she said I'm sorry I came to your door bearing gifts and a big maybe. I should have left the gifts at home and met you on the sidewalk.

Is that the simple truth of the matter? Timing and what we bring are everything? I am wondering if things that don't work out are simply a matter of one or both of the individuals not being ready.

All I know is, today I awoke in a soul-crushingly sad world because of the tragedies beyond my own life. And I felt that today would have been a really nice day to have had someone beautiful, and warm, and real, and lovely to curl up next to and say Honey, the world can be a terrible place, I'm grateful for this simple moment together.

But since, for now at least, that reality isn't available to me, I spent the day remembering and enjoying my own company. I cried alone about the tragic events on the east coast, but I also laughed alone at small acknowledgments of kindness and beauty that too exist. I walked through my house and took note of all the pieces of a life that come together to create a deeply nourishing existence. I've done this single thing well for a long time, and just because I got a brief taste of what is possible, it doesn't mean I can't enjoy what I already had.

And I suppose, the nice part about not getting too used to what things are becoming, is that then it is easier to go back to the way things were.

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