Sometimes the world is so sunshiney, so perfectly golden, nothing but lying across my bed with a new friend with the windows open and an early spring breeze saying hello, nice to meet you. Every spring I get back on my bicycle and fall in love all over again. I don’t forget how to do it, but I forget how goddamn good it feels, how effortless, how smooth, how fast and free and full of wonder. There’s water in all the waterfalls again. At work, the whole wall is giant windows that hinge out into the courtyard. We open them in the afternoons and wind down the day that way. Before she left for Joshua Tree, Marta showed me how to round my back in plank so I’ll have better form. At work! At work! How glorious!
I have a desk of my own and a bed of my own (a real bed again! hallelujah!). I have windows that look out on Half Dome if I squint hard enough. I have a misfit collection of pots and pans and I’m cooking again these days (with the same atrocious failure rate as I’ve always had). I have internet too — that’s perhaps the strangest phenomenon of all. I can Skype with Meagan in Paraguay, with Maggie in Boone. From my bed. From my Half Dome windows. From my space, here, here, here. A few weeks ago, my handful of southern friends gathered for a southern food potluck before the bluegrass concert. The next day, I biked with Brian to Cascade Falls, up and up and up, impossibly far, and then we rode down the mountain at a silly fast speed and I got so high on spring and forgot that anything was ever bad at all.
But bad it was, so very bad. I came back in January, in the dead of winter, with a heart still stuck in someone else’s hand. I spent Christmas burying myself in the loss of a relationship I’d gotten swallowed in, then I returned to a handful of words that I thought meant something. They didn’t. Sometimes people say things and don’t mean them. Sometimes they mean them, but it doesn’t matter at all.
Because Yosemite’s winter population is half the size of my high school, it was worse than that first-high-school-heartbreak when you see your old lover with his new lover in the hallways before class. So I fell apart for a little while, ran myself into the ground, let my head and my heart pummel each other for a little too long.
But then that beautiful post-breakup thing happened where you fall in love with every single person you talk to, where the sweetness of the world replaces all the terror. A handful of the most wonderful people here carried me through it, listened to my whining, let me cry in public and loved me maybe a little more when I stopped (THANK YOU/THANK YOU/THANK YOU). Buddy told me the other day that living in Yosemite is like living with gypsies. “People come and go. Good friends leave that you may never see or talk to again.” How true it is. How much it stretches me, challenges me, wears on me. These lovely people… I never know how to let them go. I don’t know how to be graceful with it.
There’s always this matter of grace, of gentleness, of interacting with people in a way that is fair and honest and clear. And there’s the matter of interacting with myself in the same way: how can I be tender with her, care for her, carry her through the hard things with a sense of compassion and understanding? I spend most of every day feeling a mix of manically happy and like my life is some perpetually unanswered mud-question that I’m slogging my way through, but I want to be present for it.
Tomorrow is the first day of spring, and it’s the third time since this year began that I’m relieved for a chance to start over.
I’m starting to kind of see, maybe, just maybe, that starting over doesn’t mean becoming new, it doesn’t mean abandoning where or who or what you are, it just means trying again. It just means you still have some mangled faith that you can be better, even if it’s the millionth time and you’re full of doubt.