Contrary to popular belief, I am not always a perfect ray of sunshine. I have a restless streak punctuated with wanderlust. Those who know me best say: watching me confined in life is like watching a thunderstorm in the prairie sky: you see sunshine on one side and with a storm overtaking it on the other. My eyes go from a grey turquoise to a brilliant shade of emerald green as the restless rolls in and settles like a hurricane. I know I am not alone, we all have our storms; we all face them in our own ways.
When the storm overtakes me, my usual instinct is to get in a car or a truck or lace up a pair of shoes and run to anywhere but the place I’m standing. Somedays though, even I can’t run. This week, my restless blew in with vehement intensity and I had no where to run; demands of picking up extra shifts to cover rising feed costs and violent thunderstorms drove me to ground. I was trapped with four walls closing in, storm on the outside confining me and a storm inside me driving me to escape. I took a deep breath and stared miserably out the window. As overjoyed as I was to see rain in a drought, I gladly would have fled for a few hours. I looked around the room, summer had clearly arrived. Paperwork was stacked on my desk, dishes had been stacked by the sink, the floor had been cleaner…
I turned a blind eye and headed to my bedroom but even there I found the backlog of chores. I settled myself into laundry but it couldn’t hold me. I glanced about and my eyes rested on the closet, I opened the doors and began to analyze the contents. Strange thing about closets, they are like memories: things we thought we forgot, things we wish we could forget, things we don’t want to forget and secrets we keep.
In the back, with a tinge of dust I found a neatly pressed Tae Kwon Do uniform. Hanging there as if I was going to put it on and run to a sport I had long given up. I laughed a little as I pulled it out and found a faded blood stain from a bloody nose or lip from not keeping my guard up, I thought I had forgotten. I pull it off the hanger and gently fold it up. I may not compete anymore but I haven’t forgotten the lessons of ten years of training. I don’t hit like a girl, I still have the discipline, determination, balance, grace, flexibility and agility that come with years of practice. I glanced down at the scars on my knuckles and the toes which still dislocate at will and aren’t quite straight: my mind and my body have not forgotten.
I found a photo and a letter from an old boyfriend shoved in a magazine. I didn’t need to read it, it was etched in my memory many years ago; once it held special meaning, later it was a painful reminder. For an instant, some old anger flared: I wanted my time back, I wanted to use that time on someone or something more worthwhile, I wished I could just forget. Suddenly indifference returned; the magazine, letter and the photo landed unceremoniously in the trash. I had no hesitation, no regret and no emotion; I just let them go. I remember well when I thought those memories would always mean something, yet I had moved on, was happy and I wouldn’t go back for anything: I spent too much time there already.
A nondescript box fell off the top shelf, I had no idea what was in it but as it fell at least a hundred cards, letters and keepsakes hit my floor. As I carefully picked them up and replaced to the box, I found letters and cards from friends and relatives who loved me and whom I loved. Some I had lost touch with, others I talk to often and some who could never write me again. I fingered an Italian silk scarf from my great aunt, an Irish teddy bear from my other great aunt, followed by a toy my granddad made me. I gently put the lid on the box and replaced the box to the shelf. There are things I don’t want to forget, places I’ve been, people I’ve known and things I’ve felt. Little things bring those memories flooding back: they are worth keeping because I can’t return to live those moments again, I can only remember.
I glanced about my perfectly reorganized closet, here and there secrets are hiding. Three boxes of art supplies and a set of suitcases which have carefully planned dreams and as yet unimagined potential. A couple new dresses awaiting the right occasion, a couple gifts awaiting delivery and a box of my stylistic discards for goodwill. My darkest secret is a bottle of good scotch I’ve saved for a moment which has not yet come; a moment I am either blissfully unaware of or wasn’t aware I was awaiting. Nothing dark or disastrous here, just parts of me I’m not ready to show anyone. I smiled to myself, my deepest secrets rest with me alone but they are similar to the ones in my closet: light and easy to bare.
I took a step back, a pile of trash, another box for goodwill: my past neatly packaged up. Somehow I had hoped some of my past might disappear when I closed the doors and got rid of the discards: yet there it all still was. A sense of resignation crept over me, there are no do overs.
Somewhere in that resignation, a sense of wonder crept over me. My life was not an accident. Chance meetings, were never chance. Roads I walked, paths I’d taken were not without purpose. My steps were ordered before I knew I would make the choices I made that brought me where I have been and where I will go. I don’t mean I don’t have choices. I mean someone knew me, better than I do, and knew every stumble step I would take and had prepared for them; I’ve been given windows when doors wouldn’t open. Yet I look at the overgrown paths behind me knowing none of them are perfectly straight. I didn’t heed some warning signs, I didn’t always have the courage to fly through open windows. I am not somehow special in this regard, I am simply human.
‘Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be.’
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