“I have a Goodwill gift for you.”
A casual sentence that sends my heart into atrial fibrillation. She’s thought of me. She pulled the trigger on a dime-store gift, which is, in and of itself, significant. There’s history there. Flea market, Goodwill, thrift store scores are greater than retail-bought; because of their randomness in this chaotic world, as though even more than their deeply discounted prices, there is a reason unspoken why you stumbled upon them. I know this. She knows this. Buy me something new, and I’m suspicious. Score something from a flea-market that speaks to my soul and I might eyeball you as though you and I could commit a great crime of passion together.
She knows this.
I’ve traveled far and wide. I’ve loved publicly and privately, broken a heart or two, and had my own thrown in the wood chipper that is the hallmark of our very own brand of insecurities. Lessons learned have come at great cost and resulted in more grey hairs than I care to admit. I am more leery these days, the masons of consequence having built some pretty solid concrete walls around this heart. I’m getting older, and survival protocols mandate that it’s wiser to cover up that tattoo of your heart that’s worn on your sleeve. But damn the torpedoes, says the heart. As your brain scrambles to gag the sound of your hearts voice, you realize it’s too late and you’ve let the words escape….
“Hey. I need to tell you something.”
“Ok”, she says.
“Ok” could mean any number of things. It could mean she, too, has to tell you something. Something like “I’ve filed a restraining order.” Or something like “I think you’re really swell, and you and I could be best platonic friends forever!” Or, worse. Always something worse. The brain knows this and is screaming at the heart…“SHUT THE HELL UP! SHUT UP!!! SAY NOTHING! YOU WILL GET HURT, YOU STUPID IDIOT!”
“I miss your face. True story.”
Pause. Dramatic pause. Beyond dramatic, now The Pause has hauled off and got itself pregnant.
Seconds become minutes and my head crashes into the table. “Idiot. Idiot. Idiot. You NEVER say that anymore. DON’T SAY THAT! No matter your feelings, it’s too late to say these things. She’s long gone, and your souls’ song has no response. YOU FOOL.”
“Do you want to go on a walk in the park with me and Lark?”
Yes. Yes. I would walk from here to the Yukon and back with you, just to make one another laugh and smile like only we can. You’ve no idea what hell I’ve walked through to get to this place of quiet redemption in my own mind. To get to a place where I can look in the mirror again without that silent companion of self-loathing that walks by my side no matter the journey. To smile again, for once, for reals.
Yes. Yes. Yes. After a thousand no’s in my mind, I can utter a yes without fear. I WOULD like that. I no sooner want to let my heart peek out of its’ cave than I want to be viciously stomped on by an irate gorilla, but my heart murmurs, says, shouts, texts “yes” before my brain can reign it in and weigh the risks.
What are we, if not risk takers? We are foolish. We are perfectly imperfect. We find ourselves walking around the park with the Passionate Woman, the person who can stir the very embers of a muted heart back into a raging inferno with one sideways glance. We find ourselves hurriedly telling tales of work and life and parenting, hoping to convey the stories that only the other one will understand with the same brand of humor and weariness that comes with the burden of a lonely journey as a single parent. No one else in these stolen moments exists. Weird guys in samurai costumes are foam-sword battling white trash guys in tank tops with cigarettes dangling from their toothless mouths in the park. There’s a bizzaro photo shoot involving some sort of steampunk Johnny Depp tribute theme and you could care less about either. You find yourself lost in the orbit of her positive energy that that smile brings.
And you find yourself in possession of a Goodwill-bought Hula Girl that seems to dance approvingly on top of your stove. You find yourself grinning eight hours later as your planer makes another pass by heart on a piece of rough wood being hewn into some furniture. Grinning at the thought that you’re being thought of; grinning at the thought of coffee on the porch with her; grinning at the thought of your heart peeking it’s fearless, foolish head out of the cave, once again. Grinning at the thought of the one who can hear your souls’ song and sings, softly, gently, in a far off place back to you. Grinning at the thought of someone who’s grin can inspire the most vulnerable, creative elements of what makes us all perfectly damaged, beautiful beings.
Dance on, hula girl.
Yes. My answer is yes.