I dreamed about you again last night.
We were standing in the middle of a street in the city and I was using my phone to take images of a building. It had a series of arches which went on endlessly and the cerulean sky echoed out behind it. As I paused to look around, I noticed we were surrounded by couples who were dancing. I adjusted my phone to capture the beauty of their movements on video and your hand came up to rest on mine, gently moving it to my side. You didn’t say anything but I knew you were asking me to stop observing and engage. Your heart was silently whispering, “enjoy this moment.” I felt your arm slip round my waist and you pulled me close to you as we began to move to music I could not hear with my ears but seemed to reside somewhere within my soul. There was no sense of growing accustomed to one another, but rather, I melted into you and we moved as one force — fluidly. It was the oddest feeling, no pulling or pushing, just fitting.
I’ve always wondered if that was possible — if the pieces of my soul were made to fit with yours.
Of late, I have begun to question if all the darkness and pain which the past few years have brought, had sliced things up in a way which ensured we would never quite fit. Maybe those questions are wrong. Maybe, instead, it has worn down the jagged bits so we will slide together more cleanly.
I’m reminded of a moment in mid-December of 2013. Walking between the cliffs and the sea of Malibu’s shore, the man I was with bent down to pick up a piece of moss green sea glass for me. I turned it over in my hand and expressed my fascination at how a broken piece of beer bottle, washed up on the beach and covered in sand, can magically be renamed “sea glass.”
“But, it has been transformed into something other — something magical,” he declared. “Glass begins as sand. When it’s returned to the water this way and tossed about and thrown up on the beach, it comes home. It isn’t a piece of litter or cracked sliver of a wine bottle. It is more. It is sea glass. It is home.”
Maybe that’s what this journey has been — you and I making our way back — a return to our true nature. Ronne says one day I will realize all my dreams of you and these letters I’ve been writing are actually whispers to my own heart. Derek Walcott’s words ring in my head, Love After Love:
“The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.”
If I’m being honest with you, until last night, I haven’t felt like myself in some while. The past few weeks threw me back to a hollow-eyed, once-upon-a-nightmare Melissa.
You know I’m always hopeful, even when faced with the dark which seems quite impenetrable. But, this past week I just about gave up. Life without purpose isn’t very useful to me. Pleasure is all good and well but a life of only pleasure seems not like any life at all. I watch people around me pursue such things and it puzzles me. Viktor Frankl talked about it in Man’s Search For Meaning, “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”
All the doors I’ve tried to open of late have closed. Or refused to open. Or have slammed shut in my face repeatedly. I’ve always had a plan and now…the future is a complete mystery. This terrifies me. I’m floundering. Drifting. I even left the noise of social media so I could maybe find some answers in the quiet.
I’ve come to the conclusion that after all of the surviving, I must learn how to live. I have no clue how to do that, darling, so I’ve just begun saying, “yes.”
As long as it isn’t harmful or unethical, I’m saying yes. I started this weekend by spending time with my cousin and her daughters. We stayed up late laughing and crying, as we discussed how our love stories haven’t turned out like we planned. As I look at where we are, I’m in awe of our fortitude. We’re still here. Even after it all. Yesterday afternoon, I pulled out my iPhone to grab a few pictures of her girls at the restaurant. They insisted I take one of them holding hands. Their care for each other is resounding. It echoes the connection between their mother and I. I think strength flows in our blood.
Last night I said another yes.
That’s when I began to feel a bit like me again or this new woman I’m becoming. Time will tell how I feel about her. This yes was to a second date. His eyes smile. Even when the rest of his face is not smiling, his eyes do. They’re kind. Few men I know have those type of eyes — my dad, Jeremiah, Uncle Jeff, Ronne’s Brad; all men I associate with deep goodness. Without knowing more than three things about him and the fact that his eyes smile, I said yes the other week to a first date for pie. Last night I went on a second one to hear some of the best storytellers in Chicago spin tales.
Micah sent me this quote awhile back about love at first sight. It was written by Neil Strauss, the pick-up artist who wrote The Game and then had his own coming-to-Jesus moment which did not involve Jesus but did involve his becoming a husband and father and a realization of how to treat other humans. He said, “They say that when you meet someone and feel like it’s love at first sight, run in the other direction. All that’s happened is that your dysfunction has meshed with their dysfunction. Your wounded inner child has recognized their wounded inner child, both hoping to be healed by the same fire that burned them. In fairy tales, love strikes like lightning. In real life, lightning burns. It can even kill you.”
I thought of these words after my date last night when I realized I’m not in the throes of infatuation which has been known to happen to me a bit. Rather, I’m intrigued. I want to know more.
My date excused himself from the table to feed the meter and I text Micah and Molly to say, “This is scary. I think like him. I like who he is. I’m afraid that might be worse.” They had much to say in response — thirty-four iMessages in quick succession to be exact — but I’d already put my phone away because the handsome, Henley clad man was returning and his eyes were smiling at me.
I’m not sure what tomorrow holds. I don’t even know what today will bring. One of these doors I’ve been trying to pry open could move me to San Francisco or Nashville or Atlanta or a tiny town in Southern California that sits on the ocean and holds dances in its town square. Or I could remain here in the tension of the unknown. Right now I’m trying to learn how to just live and I think that means saying yes. To storytelling at the end of the month (the theme is love stories!). To attending my first wedding ceremony since the divorce (all prayers, good vibes, and anti-anxiety prescriptions are welcome). And to the idea of a third date. He has kind eyes, smells good, and knows about pie and storytelling. This seems like a good place to begin.
I think you’d probably tell me to stop trying to capture every moment and just dance. I’m leaning into the living, love, I hear you.