I would always remember Eve as the beginning. At some point, however, we have to move from the beginning and into the middle. We have to stop thinking about how things started and think about how to keep them going. We have to think about what we really want and how we can move toward it.
Mel and I finished the pot of jasmine tea. She went to her room, I stayed in the living room. There was no lingering look in her eyes. None of the yearning I sensed when I first arrived. Things were different. Things can change very fast. What did she know about me now that she didn’t know then?
Constant questioning. I laid there in the dark again, the space heater at my toes, thinking of what the next few days would bring. Thinking of what the next few months, the next few years of my life would bring.
It could have been anyone. It could have been anywhere. We could have been anyone. We could have been anywhere. It could have happened at any time. Yet it was us, and it was here, and it was now. It is sometimes hard to reconcile the meaning of being the people we are. Of being where we are. Of being who we are.
I questioned everything. I questioned why I was there on that sofa. I questioned how long I would allow myself to stay there. How long I would have to stay there. I questioned whether Mel would go on and pursue her dreams of running away. I had the realization that I wanted to go with her. That I wanted to be with her. That I wanted to go where she went.
It was foolish, yes. It was foolish to, once again, try to follow a woman somewhere. To once again look for meaning in someone else’s hand. Would I forever be caught in this cycle?
Would I just keep looking to women for satisfaction? Would I always define myself by the love I did or didn’t get from someone?
I looked at Mel’s door and wondered where she thought of going. I knew that we would not be here forever. I knew that I could not.
In that moment, something snapped. Again. Snapped the way something snapped inside me when I was in that town a few hours north of here. When I was washing dishes and did not need to think about much beyond not dropping them. Not far beyond the hot water and the slippery soap. Something snapped inside me and I realized that the only way not to fall into the old pattern of following was to go first myself. To go where no one would know me, to go and not tell anyone, though no one would really know or care, anyway. No one would ask.
I decided I would leave in the morning. I would chose a direction. I would take that much from Eve. That was a lesson I was ready to take from her.
I wondered how things would be. I wondered whether things would work. I wasn’t sure they would. I wasn’t sure of anything. But anyone who tries to say that anything in certain is probably uncertain about many things. To be certain is to be falsely comforted by the thought the something will be there, that something would happen, that things had settled into some concreteness.
I knew it was not true. I knew it was not the case. I knew I did not need it to be.
People think life can be certain. That the special occasions will come every year as they always do. That they will celebrate with loved ones as they always do. That they will not worry as they always do. That there will be a respite, and there will be only joy.
It would only be joy for me from now on, I decided. I would only be happy.
Was that possible? Was it possible not to feel pain? Did it make any sense to not want to feel anything but happy? I rethought my position. I rethought my condition.
I would not want to be happy all the time, I decided. That was too fake. That was not enough. That would not allow me to be human. I just wanted to be human.
So I packed my things again. Put them in my backpack. Wrote a short thank you note to Mel on her neat brown stationary. And left.
It’s all about leaving. It’s always about leaving. It’s always about going someplace that we didn’t expect to ever go. It’s about becoming someone we didn’t expect to become. It’s about not expecting anything. It is about going. I wanted to go. I needed to go. As I always did. As I always would.
There is always a time for coming and going. There is a time to celebrate. And I would find it, somewhere.