The sand sprays over the shining water, and rains down into the foam of the most recently crested wave. In the air, the carefully sculpted sand-balls burst into millions of tiny grains, diffusing what we had built, what we can’t live without, what we must live without. We hold hands and watch our gift to the ocean become the ocean. The sun gleams warm on my bare shoulders, but the breeze reminds me that it’s December. My first winter in California.
We had walked down to the beach because it felt keenly familiar to me. I was on a mission to find something I’d lost, perhaps centuries ago. I’ve been to the boardwalk in Santa Cruz exactly twice now. But each time I experience the most eery of familiar sensations. The entire left side of my body and brain start buzzing. Involuntary tears crop up, and some kind of deep and old recognition awakens in my chest. I can only explain this by the knowing that I have been here before, that it was wholly, entirely important, that I built something, that I buried something.
We turn and look at each other, feeling the weight of what we have just let go lift from our shoulders and hearts. We’ve given up the idea of what has to be. We’ve given up our attachment to how and why. We are in the wanting. We are in presence. We are in ally-ship.
It had been an overwhelming 12 hours. It was nearly 10 o’clock when I unlatched your gate and walked into your backyard. The edges of the car ride melted away when I saw the glowing fire and steaming drawn bath, quietly waiting for our enjoyment. Candlelight diffused into the night air from your room, and you, sitting in this soft light glowed with the same softness. I opened the door and allowed gravity to take me into your arms – the passion of longing and missing and here, now. It felt like the first time I really gave myself over to this feeling, the first time I owned and showed how big I feel for you. Somewhere in my system I already knew this night would mark the end of something, and my feelings were sprinting, giving it their all in these final moments.
Caring for you is a process I’m learning. I watched my carelessness dropkick the serene evening we had planned. I watched you back away in the room, felt your heartspace leave mine. I let you sit over there. I sat over here. I braced myself as you said things that poked at my old wounds, kicked up the dust and revealed what of my shadows were alive and lurking. I quietly noticed what of your words felt true. I let it arrive, I waited.
Somehow, my body knows how to sit with you in this. I know, even when I don’t think I know, how to navigate back to you. I know when to pause, when to wait, when to be silent, when to search for you, when to ask, when to step back, when to step forward, when to speak. Even in the pain of it, in the loss, in the self-shaming and self-loathing, in the remorse and the panic, the easiest thing in the world, the thing to do, was to just sit there with you. Over the next hour I moved from desk perch to sit beside you on the bed. When you let me, I offered a light touch, a caress, an embrace. I asked myself how can I grow here, what can I let go of, and what can I expose for the sake of our growth, yours and mine? I fumbled, I shared, I waited for what’s really true, I offered again. I pawed and padded around the entrance to the castle around your heart and hoped that you would let me back in.
You asked me what I would do if I were you. I sat in silence for a moment, and then said “I would let me hold you until it was okay.”
Slowly, incrementally, I found myself in the antechamber to your heart, a place of divine sweetness and vulnerability. Entwined limb for limb, heads and hearts in contact, my body came to recognize this as the moment.
After weeks of holding back, telling you that I love you was not a matter of mustering the words, pushing them up from my heart through breath and tongue to lips. It was a matter of a simple, quiet decision – the tiniest of keys in the tiniest of locks that brought down the flimsiest of walls. It was an allowing. It was putting down the shields to my bigness and letting me out. A relaxation from a tense clutch, and the words said themselves.
The words came with no expectation of reciprocity. I watched them land on you, first your skin, then your eyes. I watched the words wash in like waves to your core. I watched them turn around and be spoken back to me, and witnessed a simultaneous shock and release in my system. I had to close my eyes to hold it, lest it spill away and be gone. You asked me to say it again, only after you tell me we cannot fall deeper. I wondered what on earth that could mean. I am in an act of movement that knows no measurement.
So I told you again, and it sent shivers of joy and warmth through me, spreading through my fingers and toes as I witness you take it in. A buzzing spiral through my core from you, to source and back again. This is it. There is nothing better than the joy of loving somebody without need or want of reciprocity. Nothing better than love without agenda, a love that cannot help but exist, a love from lightness and wholeness. A love that can be held, a love that can be received.
These last hours I spent with you were pure magic. We entered another dimension where every moment was tying and untying the cords and connections between us. Every exchange a momentous one. Every quiet moment an integration and a peaceful prayer, every ecstatic moment an exclamation, a celebration of what we have been. Every small ritual we created, an honoring of the gifts we have received through each other.
“Be big” you said as we finally parted at the train station.
And now I am waiting in wanting. I am wondering about what comes next, but mostly I am letting my bigness through, I’m giving myself what I need to fully feel this love and this loss.
Beloved, I am waiting for your total yes. Looking back on the journey of my heart over the last few years, I see how I’ve been edging closer and closer to a full yes. With every lover, every encounter, there is a little more yes and a little less mystery. A little more presence and a little less hesitation. And here we are now on this beach, parting from our own version of partial yes. Leaving space for the fullness to arrive and point us in the direction of each other. Or not. Parting to create space of you, space of me.
I am also waiting for my total yes. I wonder about my proclivity for projections, and I have come to realize this:
Projections can only exist in the presence of darkness. Try to decipher the images projected onto a sunny wall, and you won’t see much but sunlight. I may have this video reel of what I want to see, but the sun has a different idea, and the sun always wins.
When we are in our bigness, we are shining. Even our darkness is lighter when not cloaked with apologies of our own existence and the shame of what’s underneath. In my carelessness and in your reaction, we showed up big. And in all you do, you move from your bigness, your light, your purity. The more you show up big, the more you shine. The more you shine, the more you make this video reel I carry obsolete. There is no shadow on which to cast another story-line. And so perhaps I should give up and admit what I’m pretending not to know: There is no other story, no second-act plot twist, no surprise ending to my feelings for you.
But today, on this beach, this place so deeply remembered and loved, it’s time to give ourselves back to ourselves. Any part of you that I’ve squirreled away to have and hold in my dark moments, any parts of me that I’ve given to you for safe-keeping. We breathe them in, we breathe them out. I say goodbye to you. I say hello to me. I place my hand on your heart. “I am your friend. I am your ally. And I am here for you in this container. I see you, I hear you, I feel you.”
Behind us, a man is scanning the beach and digging for metal. He pauses as we speak these new vows, and digs in, as if searching for the old, ancient, forgotten roots.
january 7, 2014