We sometimes say things we don’t mean and don’t say things which threaten to build up inside of us until we are so full of them that they carry us away like a balloon to some foreign place where we have never been and we know no one even ourselves but it doesn’t matter anyway because now we simply must figure out where we are and how to go on from there.
In the early mornings during that peaceful period of time between sleeping and waking, I sometimes forget that I am in another place and I am transported back into that safe place in your arms and you love me and I love you. And then I remember where I am. I wish I could drift through life on a cloud like that sometimes, in a dream, but then I stare into that empty timeless vacuum of reality and I feel I am forsaken; I feel forsaken.
It was just so close this time, so near to that mark. If I were more compliant, if you were less complacent, if I weren’t so late, if appearances weren’t so important to you, if I were more trusting, if you were more open, if only I didn’t need those shoes, if only you didn’t crave those nights out, if only I cared more about conformity, if only you cared less, if I were less passionate, if you were more compulsive, if God was God and Jesus was Jesus and there was no right or wrong way to love them, if, if, if….so many ifs.
I know I should go out and join the living and they keep asking me to but I say I am not ready. I look at them and they are either too much like you or they will never measure up to you and I am afraid either way. I know the time will come but it is not here yet and so I wait for it to come but meanwhile I am alone.
Life goes on around me and I must flow along with it somehow. Funny how the most trivial things become of great consequence, such as how you made the pizza, the way you fed the squirrels, the sound of your voice when you sang those words to me which at the time meant so much, the quarrel at the motel, and the way we looked at each other and time stood still and we knew, we just knew.
And this morning, well it had been so long, so very long, you know. And I thought about your voice saying things we knew we should not say and my voice saying those things I should not say but it felt so good to be bad with you. It felt so good to be your little girl and well…I just felt free. I could read you and you could read me-like a book of life, a mirror to our souls; that is the worst of it. Knowing someone almost as well as you know yourself and having someone know you, I mean really know you. That is the worst of it.
I imagine sometimes that we run away together but I know that if that happened I may one day begin crying and I would cry so much that it would fill up the room and we would both drown. And I can’t swim and would you save me? Could you save me if you can’t save yourself? I must learn how to swim. I’ve made myself a promise that is one of the first things I shall do whenever I feel a little more like myself once again. I mustn’t be afraid of the water and you mustn’t either, but I worry that you are sometimes not so cautious and you may just dive in again so quickly that you will hit rock bottom, yes I still worry about you. I don’t believe I can even sink so low as to hit rock bottom again, I would just flounder about, and float. That’s simple enough, to just drift along hoping that a big wave doesn’t come along out of nowhere and knock me off balance again. But it will someday, and it won’t be you riding it but it will knock me off again. I am sure of it. I am prepared for it though for I know that no matter how high or wide or mighty it may be, the ride will never be as exhilarating and the wave will never carry me as high and the fall will never be as deep and the thrust will never be as great. I will never fall this hard again. I recall the taste of the ocean on my lips and feel it sting my eyes and I know that of all the memories nothing will ever taste as bittersweet or swirl so warm around my heart or leave me shivering so violently when I step out of the water.
Sharon Lynn Van Meter