We’ve done this dance before. Pull up curbside. Arms easily find their positions, circle the partner – you – facing me. Words are spoken, dry-mouthed, yet they drip with significance. Eyes searching, trying to make contact and failing, because one or the other of us is starting to move to the music neither one of us wants to be hearing. Feet shuffle, move into the right sequence; the tuneless melody has weight, where days before the songs to which we recalled the words were light and airy, even blasted through the state-of-the art stereo system. The engine is humming, yet is not comforting, for it will rev up eventually taking one of us away from the other.
Yet this voyage is different. My bags are heavier than the gaps between the words which we don’t have to say because merely two weeks ago, I watched you tear up that old script and throw it out of the window. Naturally, I burst into tears, but from gain, not from loss of that tired volume. And so today, I’m off on a solo adventure, but am not alone. This is the last journey that will be shared through FaceTime and hilariously autocorrected texts, which still can’t quite say what sits inside my heart, for my grasp of the English language will be muddled by canned air and timezones, by jetlag and offbeat routines. It will start on that glorious second my stomach drops and the plane lifts. That moment when the jet steadies and sways and bursts through the clouds.
Over whisky the other night, you told me of your own arduous trek, hiking, mainly, on a trail I did not know, nor could find a map to follow. You found the point at which to stop. You let the walking stick fall by the last stream you passed. Next time, I’ll offer my hand instead, but I think you know and I certainly do, that this path is not one I need to see. You told me that you saw the stars in a clearing there one night, that it was time to make your way from this forest onto a different path. I silently agreed, but wanted to hear your story come to its conclusion.
When I fly back again and watch the sun never set over the course of a night, I’ll be holding my half of a new map. Mine’s going to be an antique, it’s from England, after all, but that’s what will make the road enlightening and somewhat foreign. Your half of the map sits in the glove compartment in an envelope, and eventually, we’ll put them together and select the next route. Until then, we will play a new song, as I step out from the vehicle, dancing no more. Your eyes have found mine, and the light from within contains the music of the universe to which there are no steps, no sequence, merely being for a lifetime.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”