Saturday, June 25, 2011

Solace in Goodbyes

I wasn't going to go hiking today, but I felt like I had to. The traffic on the 110 and the 5 agreed with my first inclination to simply crash in my hotel room after attending my last residency seminar. I didn't care. I kept driving to Griffith Park because I needed to relax after an exhausting 10 days filled with doubt, laughter, discoveries, hellos and goodbyes. It was too hot to make it to Dante's View or the Hollywood sign this time, but I met a stranger named "J." His one year old pit bull wanted to say "hi." It's the second pit bull who has wanted to say "hi" to me in the past month. Maybe I have some sort of "dog aura."

We talked for awhile at one of the rest areas, in the shade, as the breeze blew softly through the leaves of the trees above us. I was crying because I'm not good with goodbyes. Just as this residency began to end, I started to feel home again. I wasn't really crying about leaving tomorrow because I know I'll be back in roughly 5 months and see most of the people I just met again. I'll see and feel this City of Angels another time, which strangely feels older and older each time I set foot on its streets. Today as I drove past a section of La Brea I could have sworn those were the houses and buildings from one of my dreams. No, I've never driven that section of street before in my life; at least not this one.

I began to cry underneath those trees in the park because of another type of goodbye. My heart is heavy at its possibility, as if it were my own pain; my own struggle. I've seen too many of them-the goodbyes that don't end; the kind of goodbyes that take away any physical possibility of connection, of taste, of sight, of smell, of touch. It's not enough sometimes that you can still feel the spirit and still talk in dreams. It doesn't seem fair to me that some of the world's most beautiful souls have to endure repeated suffering. Some would say that's what makes them so beautiful. I still don't like it.

I didn't get to see my biological father before he "died." He could still be out there somewhere, living under a different identity. I don't think I'll ever get to know. I've seen my adoptive father whittle away to nothing within the span of five short months, finally expiring in the middle of the night; confirmed by a long distance phone call. I've attended the funeral of a co-worker, killed in a car crash on the icy back roads during a Colorado winter. A childhood schoolmate died while on a family vacation, the victim of carbon monoxide asphyxiation. My high school friend "B" recently passed because he choked and no one was there in time to save him. To me the process of elimination is so random that you can't waste the gift of life brooding about inconveniences, hurt feelings, setbacks and negativity.

But we do. Because we're human. We are dark and light, male and female, a conglomerate of opposites, as my writing mentor would say. I hate the concept of karma or sin, because then there would be a concrete explanation for suffering. Each one of us would have to acknowledge that the dark exists with the light. It is our final choice that releases us from one of those.

The only thing we can do is dig deep enough to find the strength and the will to make the choice that releases us from the one that we no longer want to be. I know that those of us who form bonds with each other don't really say goodbye, ever. I just don't like the fact that it feels so empty when we think we do.

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