Monday, July 25, 2016

War and Peace

When you've tired of the battle
I will trace your many scars
Gently, gently with my fingers
Never hardened in a war

I will offer you some water
I will offer you some wine
I will take you to my bed
Where you can quench this thirst of mine

If we lie tangled together
Damp with sweat beneath the sheets
Can we forget for just a moment
All the secrets that we keep

I will smile into your neck
I will offer you my throat
Gently, gently now my lover
This fire ignites my very soul

If we clench our fingers tightly
Hold each other in a gaze
Can we keep the war from coming in
And make a love that stays

Can we lose ourselves forever
Drunk on sweaty, salty bliss
Or will the drums of war intrude again
Until we question this

Will you whisper to me gently
Will you softly say my name
Will you learn to lose yourself with me
To find what we might gain

If our hearts could beat together
Could they drown the drums of war
Gently, gently move together
Until all that's left is love

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Love and Marriage

Yesterday was my Wedding Anniversary, or would have been if I wasn't divorced.  It's a little ironic that I realized it because for most of my marriage, I wasn't very good at remembering the date, a fact my ex-husband never exactly embraced.  It's not that I didn't care, I'm just not great at keeping track of things like that.
I'm not sad about the fact that I'm divorced and, despite what some might think, I moved on a long time ago even though I haven't really dated anyone in the years since we parted ways.  I just needed some alone time.  I needed time to just be me. 
I have thought often in the past couple of years about love and marriage, what they are and what that means to me.  I've thought about what my own marriage meant to my life and whether or not it lost all meaning because it didn't last. 
So, from the perspective of time and distance, here's what I think about all of it.
Love is still the most important thing in the world.  You can have everything else you've ever wanted and, if you don't have the right person to share it with, it can still ring hollow.   It's in my happiest moments that I feel that emptiness most keenly. 
To me, marriage is the moment when you stand up in front of the whole world and say, "I choose this person".  It can be the most daring thing in the world to make that declaration and to mean it with your whole heart.  And it can be the most comforting thing you'll ever know, to feel that the person you have chosen has also chosen you.
The end of a marriage is heart-breaking.  There is no other way around it.  You grieve the loss of not only the person you loved, but the idea of the life you thought you had together, or could have had together if things had been just a little different.
Ultimately, I'm glad that I got married, even though it didn't work out. Tommy gave me a place to call home for over a decade, even if some of those years were difficult.   I'm sure it wasn't always easy being married to someone like me, someone who is independent to a fault.  I often tried to explain why I thought it was important that I didn't need him, that he was in my life because I wanted him there.  I don't think he always understood that.  I never wanted to need anyone.  It's important to me that every moment I spend with someone is by my choice, because I prefer to be with that person over all others, not out of some kind of sense of needing to have someone by my side.  I would rather be alone than to spend my life with someone out of necessity or fear.
Still, I never wanted to date again. And maybe I let things go on too long in the hope that I wouldn't have to. 
When I married him, I made Tommy my family and he will always be my family even if I never see him again.  I wish for only good things for him.  I am thankful for the time we spent together, thankful that he gave me that moment, that he stood up in front of the world with me and told everyone that he chose me and that I chose him.  That moment was everything to an independent girl like me.  It was everything I was afraid of allowing myself to want.
Now, reflecting on all of it from the comfort of time and distance, I can say that I gained more than I lost.  I don't think I could have ever been as happy and as sure of myself as I am now if I had never had that moment.  I don't think I could have ever been as happy alone as I am if I had never tried and failed to make a life with someone else. 
I know now that I'm capable of doing either - living alone or living with someone.  I look forward to the time when I find the right someone to share my life with.
I don't know if I'll ever get married again.  I'm certainly not in any rush.  I don't even know at this point if I'll ever fall in love again...but I hope so.  I'm willing to admit now that while I might not need anyone...I kind of want to.  Maybe allowing myself to rely on someone else isn't the worst thing I could do.  Maybe someday, it will even happen.
But for now, I'm happy.  I'm at peace with my life and with myself. And I'm at peace with my marriage as well as my divorce.
Thank you, Tommy, for being my home for all those years.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Summit

It had been about twenty years since I last climbed a mountain, a trip so terrible I had all but blocked it from my memory.  The highlights of that hike include a run-in with a six foot rattlesnake and wading through chest deep water while taking a "shortcut" suggested by one of my fellow hikers.

Probably because that trip was all but forgotten, I decided that I wanted to hike again.  My goal last summer was actually to start hiking, but somehow it never happened.  This past winter, I decided I was going to start training and be ready to do it in the spring.  I was doing the treadmill on steep inclines for an hour at a time and feeling pretty good about myself.  Then I got plantar fasciitis which is basically fancy doctor talk for excruciating pain in the foot.  For a while, all walking was put on hold, my foot so painful at times that I struggled just to go grocery shopping.

After months of babying it, my foot was finally good enough to start walking again. I went out most nights for at least an hour, enjoying spending time outdoors and yearning for more.  I was ready.

So, last Saturday morning, I got up and climbed Buck Mountain.  As soon as I started the first part of the ascent, I realized I had forgotten my asthma inhaler at home.  At that point, I wasn't going to let a little thing like not breathing stop me, so I pressed on.  I took as many breaks as I needed to, for as long as I needed to.  I took pictures along the way and enjoyed the peace and seclusion of an early morning hike in the woods, listening to the breeze rustling through the trees and the sounds of the birds chirping away to each other.

I made the summit in just under two hours.  It was beautiful.  Amazing.  Everything I wanted it to be.  I chose a rock to sit on and had my breakfast.  A friendly dog belonging to another hiker came over and licked my face in greeting.  I pet her for a few minutes and she ran off as soon as I tried to snap a picture, preferring a life of anonymity to the constraints of celebrity, apparently. I took pictures and enjoyed the wind whipping through my hair and cooling me off after all the hard work of getting to the top.

After about an hour, I headed back down, glad I had decided on an early start as an endless stream of people made their way upward.

I was so thrilled with my day's experience that I decided to hike Sleeping Beauty the next morning. I practically skipped up the mountain, it was so easy compared to Buck, and I made it to the top in a little under an hour.  Again, I spent an hour taking pictures, having a snack, and generally feeling content before heading back via Bumps Pond. 

But this journey did not begin this past weekend.  It didn't begin at the gym last winter or even last summer when I decided climbing mountains was something I wanted to do.  This journey began a few years ago, when I decided I didn't like the life I was living any more.

There have been many starts to this journey.  I have made advances, and I have had setbacks. Some days my path has been clear and others I have all but lost my way.  In the beginning, I took a step.  And then another.  And another.  Until one day, I found myself at the top of the mountain...looking forward to the next mountain to climb.

There is only one way to change your life. Take a step. Start moving in the direction you want to go in and keep moving in that direction, even if you find that your path is long and winding or overgrown completely in places.  Sometimes you may need to sit and rest.  Sometimes you will need to lay back and look up at the stars to make sense of it all.  Sometimes you might even need to stop and have a good cry.  But no matter what else you do, keep getting up and moving in the direction you want to go in. 

I promise you, one day you will get there.