I lumber along the concourse laden with heavy bags,
faces blur around me like kaleidoscope renderings.
From out of the crowd, his face jars me, transports me back to another time.
I am immobilized by turquoise shadows falling from his familiar eyes.
“I know you,” his voice calls across the trajectory of four decades and reverberates and reawakens someone I used to be.
I call his name; I drop my bags. Awkwardly we share a brief embrace. Strangers push past us.
Tossed backward into time, memory of us, of a night long, long ago on a moonlit stretch of beach.
Over Starbucks coffee, he tells me of his father’s dying in Albuquerque, of his third ex-wife. I tell him of my failed attempts at publishing my great American novel, my inability to find true and lasting love.
He sips his coffee, glances at his watch, fails to speak.
I struggle to find the words to replace those spoken forty years ago. He stands in my memory at the edge of the sidewalk in that old apartment complex with moonlight shining against his handsome face, rain slowly tapping against my windowpane.
He looks up from his coffee, speaks. “I think you should have stayed. I really loved you. I really did. We were young back then. I guess we had to go and conquer our dreams.”
I nod, gather my bags. Sorrow drowns me. The past cannot be undone. Words cannot be unspoken.
He stands; we quickly embrace. We fail to exchange numbers. So accustomed to failure, I resign myself to the loss of him. I let him go. I let him go.
This is the first time in about a month that I have sat down and wrote anything.
About five years ago I moved into my new house and left boxes of my old diaries in the garage. Fear of revisiting the past kept me from looking into those pages written so long ago. Almost forty years of my life is documented in those small diaries.
After I celebrated a milestone birthday, I decided to clear out the clutter and organize my diaries by year and put them in pretty photo boxes I bought at a craft store. I labeled the boxes by years. From being a young adult intoxicated by the promise of love to a middle aged woman disappointed by dreams that disintegrated in mid-air, I feel shocked by the power of love, the profound depth of despair, the soul-crushing weight of betrayal, the mind-numbing repetition of mistakes, and the power of God’s redemption and grace, that have encompassed my existence on this earth.
Why was I so afraid to revisit that long ago world that I had once inhabited?
Fear that I would be reminded of all those dreams that never came true? Fear that I would be reminded of that one love I walked away from and while doing so I knew I would regret it for the rest of my life? Fear that I would be able to connect the dots in that web of deception that my youth had blinded me to? Fear that in retrospect I would hear the whisper of my own voice and get swallowed up by the sorrow over my own voicelessness?
I have spent the past four weeks reading through my diaries. At times, I have cried; at times, I have laughed. I honestly cannot believe that I was that young once. I honestly cannot believe that I had been so very trusting. I cannot believe the courage that God granted me in the face of the sorrow; I cannot believe the strength that He fortified me with. In retrospect, this life that God has blessed me with is a miracle; it is a miracle that I am still standing after all the sorrow, hurt, loss, and darkness.
Yes, I have taken my diaries and put them in photo boxes and organized them by year. I plan to work on my memoir this coming week. I plan to get back to my writing. I feel in my heart that God has given me the gift of words. He has shown me that I need to extend compassion to myself. He has shown me that the passage of time is a learning experience. He has shown me that His hand is always upon me no matter how dark the night.