I told my father: “If I die tomorrow, I just want you to know that I love you so much it puts my heart to bursting.” It is dark and we are watching both the football game, and then, when the commercials come, the baseball game. It is still light enough to see him tilt his head back and halfway smile, halfway sigh at my earnestness. This earnestness that has existed in me since I came forth into the world. His own earnestness tangled up with my mother’s quiet observing spirit and mixed with something handed down from some other soul in the chain that none of us have ever met.
“You don’t ever have to say it.”
It is hard to say. It can only be skimmed across the water, but I do, I do have to, because I do want to, because this heart is just near bursting with love for the people I love. And that is the sort of state of affairs that is notable enough to comment on. Because his brother just died and I know we’ll never see what that means, it won’t be shared in the languages we each of us share with him. It is, I think, as far beyond us as our deaths will be to each other when they do, inevitably, come.
“I know, but I just want to be sure you know.”
“I know. And you aren’t dying tomorrow.”
That was this evening. It’s been a strange two days that have fomented and riled and dragged something, or really, someone out of my center, out of my core. Out of the place where I thought only a singular sour creature d
welled. There’s someone else there, some other piece of myself long coerced into a fragile balance, an apple-cart now utterly tipped over, Galas and Jonathans and Fujis rolling all across creation. There’s someone who is not afraid of driving. There’s someone who wants to be married at sunrise to Morning is Broken with apricot jam-filled fairy cakes and wants to have a child and wants to write her soul into the stars and walk barefoot and full of John Denver songs and can answer the what if questions with “Oh, well” and “Que sera, sera.” and “it will be absolutely and precisely okay.”
I have been talking back to myself. All the time, to the frantic feelings that make no sense, to the things that make me shrink back in myself, to this sour force that decides we can’t make that turn because one time, one brief moment of muscle weakness in our arms created an association. To this need to be silent inside as fear swallows and soaks and chokes and dissolves my sensible nature. The sensible nature has arrived, somehow, oddly, intently, powerfully. I am listening to her. I am fighting for the first time some of the misconceptions I’ve hung my life on.
Some of this can only be attributed to a Dear Sugar article, to Cheryl Strayed herself, to this idea she has put forth, that the bull is in all directions. That you can choose whatever path you want, but you will face the bull. And this spirit inside myself, this guide, this strength, says, here is a red cape, toreador, we are going west.