Saturday, May 25, 2013

Character Lessons - Part Two

Seth used to surprise me. At least he tried to. I've never liked surprises. I get bent out of shape because my plans have been ruined. I used to think surprises were best to be avoided. The midnight walks along the beach, the pink azaleas on Sundays, the dinners in Boca Raton - they were all his way of keeping me alive. Of keeping us alive. He used to warn me, "don't let your life get too stale, babe. Go after the moment, not the ending."

He and Sal had that in common. There wasn't any time for worrying about the future. It would come whether you wanted it to or not. The biggest surprise he gave me was dying. I'd gotten so used to him being beside me when I needed him that I'd forgotten we can never use anything as a crutch forever. It's sad, really. You find something you love and then you have to let it go. But as Sal would tell you, a journey isn't about a destination. It's about the experience of who you are. And that means facing anger, pain, happiness, exhilaration, and everything in between.

It's never easy to start a new life, she told me. And it's true. Constant renewal brings constant suffering. There aren't any answers except the ones in your heart. And those answers are always floating around you, like pieces of a puzzle that need to be put together to make any sense.

Eventually the crutch is no longer useful. It simply doesn't make any sense. And time shows you what you need. It gives you space and dignity to be yourself. You alone make the decisions for who you are. The question to ask isn't where should I go, but why am I leaving? The truth about any journey is that you can always go back. You just can't turn around.

Seth, if I could tell you what I realize now, it wouldn't do us any good. You'll always be gone and you'll always be right beside me. I didn't want to leave you. I didn't want to leave us. You were part of my plan, Seth. For better or worse, did we say? I spent so much time worrying about the better that I forgot it's the worse that makes us shine. When I found out you left me, I wanted to run. So I did. I let Sal lead me to the edge of something I once dreamed of. But then I realized I was more than that dream. It was one of the things I had to let go because I was someone else now. Someone who knew she wanted to live beyond the voice of her former self. Someone who wanted to experience all the dreams she'd hidden since she decided she wasn't going to leave anything beneath sand anymore.

It's why I came back, Seth. Not to you. Not to us. Or the crutch of your memories. Or even the gold band that sits on top of the jewelry box you made for our anniversary. I still miss you sometimes when I trace the wings of the butterfly you carved into grooves on the lid. I used to think we were like that. Half full, half empty. Fulfilled and yet searching for something we couldn't find because it didn't exist.

There are no destinations, Seth. Only steps. And time.