Friday, October 7, 2016

Ghost Town - Written 2/21/15

The city is a ghost town.

I don't mean that it is an abandoned, dusty relic in which the streets are deserted and the homes barren of life.  What I mean is that it is filled with ghosts.

I had the need to drive to Rohnert Park this evening by myself.  I was delivering a special order and didn't think anything of it, that is until I turned down Golf Course Drive and Steve Perry was singing "Open Arms."  Whoa, did everything shift.  The light changed, the air changed, and there I was remembering a different house, children young, friends loving - and leaving.

I was alive during those years, more fiercely alive than I have ever been.  From 1984 to 2001 my life was centered in Rohnert Park and Cotati.  As I drove toward my destination I flipped the channel to country music, and rather than dissipating, the feeling became more intense.  I gave up, gave in, let it take me.

Lost in thought, I dropped off my package and picked up the envelope under the door mat.  I was lost in memories and deep feeling as I drove away.  I was so tempted to drive around town, to all those places so fresh in memory, so intensely present in my heart, but I resisted the impulse.  Instead, those memories continued to crash over me as I drove up Snyder to my next destination, and that didn't help.  Snyder, that midpoint between the two main places I'd lived, past the virtual middle ground of the bookends of my first married life and the greatest joys and greatest pains I'd ever experienced.

Believe me there were highs.  I smiled as I remembered roller blading with the kids, sunshine and laughter, watching them learning how to ride a bicycle, cooking dinner, doing homework, playing games.  Walks at night when I could see my breath before me, hands tucked into pockets as I looked at Christmas decorations and smelled baking cookies.  Getting dressed for a night out, filled with anticipation and in the best physical shape of my life - a person looking back in the mirror who only exists in memory.  Sitting on my bed with my best friend, talking for hours and hours, laughing and crying and consoling and learning.  Pregnant and birthing and sitting with my new little one in the freshly mowed grass, looking to the blue sky.

Life was full.  It was an adventure.  It was extreme highs and terrifying lows.  It was confidence and love and joy and lots of great sex.  It was loneliness, hours on the phone, sitting alone, writing and writing, and working and fretting.  It was trying to find my way.  It was thinking I found it.  It was having it all torn from me.  Complete destruction in the wake of what I thought was the greatest story ever told.

It was flying across a dance floor.  It was laughing and singing.  It was finding myself.  It was losing it all.  It was feeling enveloped in love and then utterly destroyed.  I left Rohnert Park not scarred, but with deep unhealed and weeping wounds I still carefully hide.

Life changed.  I shut down.  I still laughed with my daughters, cared for my youngest baby, was present, worked hard, but I was more worried and less open.  My heart had broken open.  When I put it back together, it functioned to pour out love into the world and onto those around me.  It functioned perfectly well.  It took care of those I cared for.  But it did not receive.  It was closed, sheltered, protected, because no one other than family could really be trusted.  No one was let in.  No one would hurt me that way.  Ever.  Again.

I remember weeping while sitting on the concrete steps in my garage.  I remember wailing on the phone that I would never, ever, love another again.  I figured I'd get over it as I had before.  But not this time.

Driving home tonight the memories continued to replay as the radio sent me more memories and more messages.  I was really feeling again for the first time in a long time.  Even though some of it hurt, I felt more alive.  I wanted that back in my life.  To experience the highs and brave the lows.  A glimmer of resolution grew as tears flowed down my face, salt sliding onto my lips.

By the time I got home and got busy, the feeling was dimming and the numbing protection creeping over me like the deep river fog.  By writing this I'm fighting it, as I put music on from that era to remind me.  The losses still hurt.  The betrayals still hurt.  But the I miss the highs.  I miss living.  I miss the dance.  I miss feeling loved.

I still don't know if I am lovable or if I want to risk it all again.  But at least I'm thinking about it.  And maybe these tears are starting to heal the wounds that keep me from moving freely in the world as I used to.  At least I hope so.

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