I’ve always seen the world in metaphors; I think it’s why I studied English in college. If I had to give myself a religious label, it would be Atheist. Not believing in a divine influence on my life has left me constantly looking for Signs from the Universe. I have this silly habit of reading the most mundane happenings as Great and Meaningful Literary Symbols in the novel of my life.
Last night, I went on a walk to deliver an Esther-tine (an “I Appreciate You!” platonic Valentine, in honor of Esther Day) to a friend. I can’t walk from my house to his without passing my friend Paul’s (as in, “Paul’s puddle of blood”) old house. I spent all of Monday (move-out day!) scrubbing the walls and baseboards of that house, and was a bit affronted to find the house deserted, but with lights ablaze and the door left wide open, inviting dust back in. Because I am normal and not creepy, I popped in for a quick visit. We’d patched a hole-of-unknown-origin, but it still hadn’t been textured or painted. An energy bill and a handful of pizza coupons cluttered the mailbox. (Yes. I checked the mail. Normal and not creepy!) The walls and baseboards still sparkled. It was still as empty as it was five days ago, when we packed that moving truck.
I’m an incredibly sentimental person, and I always let myself grow overly-attached to people and places. Even though I’d seen the house in its bare state- and had a hand in emptying it out- I felt this incredible sadness, standing in there. I didn’t like that the Mystery Hole was patched, that the skateboard wasn’t nailed to the wall, that the row of old movie seats, adopted from a theatre remodel, were absent from the porch. All of it made me profoundly sad, a feeling which was quickly replaced by the absurd realization that I was totally trespassing.
I walked across the street to find another empty and quiet house. Nobody was home at the Spiritual Development Center. My friend doesn’t own a cell phone, so I had to leave this awkward voicemail on the center’s business line, “Hi, this message is for Justin. This is Lydia Page! I wrote you a letter! But I couldn’t find your mailbox? So I left on the back porch, inside the middle window. I hope you find it!” As I walked away, I thought about how sad I felt to have friends in far places, how happy I felt to still have friends so close and most of all, how incredible it is to have friends to love, no matter their geographic proximity.
And then, in the most metaphorically resonant moment possible- I swear on my life this happened- I found myself being chased by a toddler (who was being chased by his exasperated father) screaming, “Leeeeeave me aloooooone! I want to be aloooooone!” while the cheeriest white-haired gentleman I’ve ever seen rode toward me on a bicycle, flashing a smile so white and so perfect I know for a fact it sits in a glass of water at night. I was sandwiched between generations, one side running for his freedom and independence and the other riding into a crowd, looking for company when- I’m seriously not making this up, and if this whole night wasn’t a symbol, you can have my English degree back- a gust of wind rustled the bright green leaves of the full tree I was standing under, and a branch with dry, sun-crisped leaves floated down on the breeze, literally right into my hands. I made no effort to catch that branch; it came right to me.
I thought about all the things we want in life: not to be smothered, the chance to prove ourselves on our own, and most of all- to love and to be loved. I thought about that tree, bursting with life, and the way the old bit broke off and floated right down to me. I thought about the small child, screaming and the old man, smiling. And I thought about myself, right in the middle, floating between the old and the new- watching a new world bloom while cradling our wonderful old seasons.
Then, because my life is not a novel and did not end with that scene, I went home and called my friend. We talked and laughed and suddenly an hour had passed, and I knew that everything would be alright.
If I had any respect for ending a good story, I wouldn’t still be typing but I’m a sap, so I simply have to say it: I feel so blessed to have such incomparably lovely people in my life. I love them. I love seeing them in love, and happy, and going on exciting new adventures, and I love that we’ve reached a point in our lives where moving on and moving away doesn’t mean erasing each other from our lives.
It’s not Esther Day anymore, but I feel like I should carry on the theme and say it one more time: I love you.