Happier Trails

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Today was the first day I woke up and didn’t want to be carried out of my situation. Didn’t want to be distracted, stultified, or seduced away from what is – and what isn’t – in my life right now.

Didn’t want inappropriate boys, or social media, season finales on my DVR or house listings on Zillow to send me swirling away from the unquiet, restive core of me.

I’ve been making anything and everything my higher power; any chance delight, siren song, or sultry promise – and why not? When all is lost, all crumbles and stumble-stutters to silence, any faint-heard tune sounds like direction, whether it’s new, or all-too painfully familiar.

Today I didn’t want to dance to any old red-shoe ballet. I wanted to look dead-on at the truths I know right now. To wit: my sangfroid has been smashed, and what was light and firmly armored in me during the years of my marriage is all unraveled now. And at the core, the things I liked, loved, made daily bread of – all mean so much nothing.

But that doesn’t mean I spin out of all reckoning, all recognition of my self and self-love, and the smarts I worked so hard to secure over a decade of dedicated recovery. I don’t lose my wits, nor what is deserving in me of care and comfort.

I don’t toss myself into the wind.

I step into it, instead.

Dale Ball Trail2

Today I took myself out into the sunshine so abundant here in Santa Fe. I let my fair skin freckle and weather brown until my watchband demarcated both time and seared skin against paler, protected flesh. I let the bees buzz in my ears and told Facebook to fuck off, it didn’t need to tell my tale. I drove with windows down and hair whipping stinging strands across my eyes and nineties-era mystery tunes shouting out my car stereo from mix lists made in days I no longer recall even faintly.

I trod trails that, two years prior when I carted up them forty pounds of swallowed sorrow and two hundred twenty of equally unhappy husband, seemed arduous and sere. Today they were full of holiday hikers with grey-muzzled dogs, muscular mountain bikes, modern, moisture-wicking miracle fiber windbreakers and sun hats and Merrell boots and every kind of right to be there. The earth was rich-saturated red with the early monsoon rain that rescued us two days running, the clouds still swollen and piggish with the promise of possibly more.

I felt myself just partly present; my legs strong and lungs up to the task that once winded me. My nose sniffed the strong juniper and piñon scents with gratitude, my eyes touched tenderly upon the agave blooming with rude and robust once-a-year sex spears as my feet sank spongy into that still-giving earth. My mind registered what great good fortune it was to occupy this particular place on earth, yet all the while remained full as well of things I wished it wouldn’t – of people and possibilities and emotions I don’t control.

Still. It was better than I’d hoped for, and a blessing I’ll not forswear for being small.

And when the little electronic iPhone chimes pinged to tell me my diversions still waited, still teased, still threatened to steal what little I do yet know of myself, I wasn’t quite so eager as before to leap upon their call. I wanted to hold on to my center, small and scared as it is.

It may yet be some time before this little life, this solo life, seems good and right and proper; ‘til it has savor and I crave nothing more. I may not want to write lighthearted fiction for a while to come. I may find myself easily bruised, or distracted, or yearn for the false comfort of low-hanging but forbidden fruit.

I will certainly make mistakes.

But today for the first time since the divorce I didn’t feel a panic at being in my life. I felt that empty was okay; not shameful, and perhaps even, eventually, a gift.

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