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Saturday, January 7, 2012

wild and free

Dear FH,

(Who will have to cherish and bask in freedom along side me).

This past summer was one of the most liberating of all my life.

Ever.

I'll save you the story of the major heartbreak, the betrayal, the mistrust and emotional abuse for another, more melancholic day.  Today is a day of rejoicing, and celebrating new beginnings.  Having the courage to shed the outer layer of things in this world I clung so tightly; or rather the pain that clung so tightly to me.

This summer I walked away from those things, those heart-wringing obstacles, with my head held high and my spirit, though perhaps ever-altered, never torn.

I owe that partially to my dear friends, old and new, who flooded my apartment this summer.  Their stays and visits swept over my little home like a sudden rainstorm.  Changing me with every breakfast made together, and every bottle of wine broken into.  They left my heart full, revitalized with love and hope.

(After all, FH, this was long before I even knew who you were.  It was during a time when your presence in my life felt like a familiar but far away story, one that I had read but couldn't place.  It was frustratingly on the tip of my tongue, but not yet there.  So close, but not yet close enough).

One salty, and perfectly warm evening, my friend Babs and I whisked ourselves away to the very edge of the East Coast.  Just a twenty-five minute drive on the very straight, very fast I-64.  Her bare feet and her dog, Josephine, had made their second home on my dashboard that summer.  My car had no working radio, but we kept ourselves entertained with the lilts of our own voices.  Our conversations carrying on just like one of those good, old crackling vintage tunes.

I remember everything about that night.  My favorite turquoise sundress, and brown sandals.  My curly reddish brown hair was partially gathered with a few bobby-pins.  The rest I let fall down my back and get carried away with the salty breeze that blew through the ocean front.

Together we ate thin-crust pizza and Greek salads, with as many olives as a person can consume in one sitting.  The wine we drank was yellow and cold, banana and citrus flavored, dry, perfect.  Our favorite watering hole, Catch 31, was crowded with people much older and gaudily dressed than we.  She and I, looking quite natural and sun burned, make-up-less, heel-less, stuck out from the crowd.  Or rather, we fell into it.  Blending in with the faces of women  painted much more fiercely than our own.

We propped our sandy feet on the rim of the fire pit outside and stared into the flames.  Lost in thoughts of Wow, we really are out of place here...


We were not a part of that place, though we were in the midst of it.  We were two locals who felt like outsiders among tourists.

And that's how I feel in my every day life sometimes.  Like I'm missing something.  Like I'm not even comfortable in my own home.  I'm surrounded by friends who live very strange lives (strange in the "I'm not familiar with it" sense of the word) with husbands, and babies, and mother-in-laws.  I feel simple in their presence.  Like I'm missing something important, and I can't figure out what it is.  But it's so obvious to everyone else around me because they're on the inside.

But I'm on the outside looking in.  And I have no idea what I'm doing wrong.

This was about the same feeling that overwhelmed me powerfully as I tried to ignore the strangers around me.

"Do you want to get out of here?" I asked as I turned to Barbara.

"Yes," she said to me.  "Weird vibe here, definitely."

So we paid the bartender and peaced-out.  Leaving the decorated strangers to talk their talks and laugh their laughs.  She and I had to practice our yoga poses on the beach.

And that's just what we did.

We stretched, and reached, and bent and...fell over.  I can't even fault the wine on the last part.  I'm really bad at yoga.

She and I fell into the sand, laughing at our apparent balance problems, the dark, damp sand layering our calves and feet and elbows.  I sat in the sand a while and looked out into the black ocean for a moment.  I lost myself in the beauty of the stars, the smell of salt and foam crescendoing onto the tip of the shore and the freedom of the moment I was currently living in.  A couple of miles out into the water, I could see bright buoys blinking, signaling boats to be cautioned, something was beneath the surface.

I stuck a pin in that moment, in that very day.  Just like a buoy in the ocean of my life.  In that moment I had released the pain of just a month before, and let go.  I had forgiven enough - or forgotten enough, as the definitions of those words begin to look incredibly identical - to let go.

"You look so wild right now," Barbara said to me, breaking my thought.  I took a moment to examine the picture of myself she was referring to.   Sitting in the sand with my legs crossed, my hair falling every which way.  She was right for sure, I was not my little put-together-business-casual-graduate-school-self in that moment.  I was wild.

And I was free.

FH, I hope to still hold onto that freedom when you and I come together.  That I will never be your ball and chain, and that I will never feel boxed in or cornered.  I don't want to fall into the crowd with you, or fall into the trap of keeping up with our friends and family members many steps ahead of us in the stages of their lives.  I hope you and I will be able to recognize when it's time to leave the places we need to, to play in the sand a while.  To dismiss the people in the world who say your life has to follow the equation of x, y, and z.

Who cares?  Let's go walk in the sand a while.  Be wild and free alongside me.

Very dearly yours,

B.
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