“I have discovered a corner of the universe where I am at peace.”
It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly four years since we last spoke.
On our good days, The Muse was not only part of my life, but also the center of the streams of my thought about who I was. She was the constant center, the North Star, and my lighthouse.
On our bad days, she was the Unstoppable Force against my Immovable Object. We were elements that smashed against each other, chipping away at the pieces of our souls, and shattering the worlds around each other.
We were love, and hate, and anger, and fear, and hopelessness, and happiness.
We were a violent and slow erosion.
Then, one day, we were simply not. As sure as she had appeared in my life in 1992, she was gone in 2009.
As we got healthy, we realized the hurts we had leveled against each other, the wrongs we had committed in the name of our relationship, and the remains of our tattered core were our White Whale. Whatever had once been had long again been damaged beyond repair.
With one, short conversation, our life together came to a close. It was a final, dry goodbye devoid of the pain and love that marked our time in orbit.
Since that night we have had only two moments of communication. Neither were done synchronously. They were bottled messages that drifted through the Web of friendships and technology, washed ashore, and came without a return address. The serendipitous notes traveled in one direction, destroying the line back to its point of origin.
In the time between that last communication and tonight, my life has swirled along paths unexpected. I have worked my sobriety, I have tried to pay attention to the world around me, I have sought to find a path that weaved between my writing and my demons, and I have gotten married.
My life is full and rich and happy.
I have felt guilt about experiencing these three, and sadness about the loss that came before. These are not feelings you expect when you marry someone else, but we are humans. Our truest truth is that our past always bleeds into our present.
I have felt this guilt and this sadness even though it’s irrational to feel them. I have come to realize this is what survivors do. They lament, they ask why, and they wonder how it is they have escaped.
To cope I imagine that The Muse’s life has swirled along equally unexpected paths, and that the universe has given her roads that we could never explore together. I have imagined her with a rich and full life filled with laughter, and love, and trust, and friendship.
I will occasionally look for her footprint, a hope that my best thoughts are justified. This is not that fairy tale, though. I find nothing as I meant to find nothing. I have received exactly what it is that I am owed. For me there are only shadows of things gone by.
Tonight, my wife and I were walking with an old friend from high school, his spouse, and their children. We were enjoying a beautiful evening in Broad Ripple, a small town on the edges of Indianapolis. It was an unexpected visit to an unexpected place.
While wandering through the Indianapolis Art Center when we came across an installation filled with hand-written messages. Many of them were silly. Some were profound. A few were washed away.
One, I’d like to think, was for me.