Ok, so as you see I have not written in a really long time. This update is actually a chapter I wrote months ago, but never put it on here because I wasn't sure where to go with it. I'm putting it up now just because I feel I should…this story started out being very close to my heart, and it still is. Suggestions on where to go are very much welcome by all of you. Thank you so much for your time.
"Angie, you have a letter." My mother walks in and throws a small white envelope on my lap. Immediately I recognize the cursive letters that make up my grandmother's handwriting. She had called me yesterday, her voice worried, southern tones softening the questions. Since he left me, that spark that had shown so brightly with inspiration had begun to dim, and everyone in my family could sense it. Winter just wasn't my season.
Tearing open the paper, I am surprised to find an article sticking out of a Christmas card. Inside the card, she had written in her dainty cursive about how she would take me to see the monarch butterflies when I graduated from college. I open the article and read about how the monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico in these huge groups; I imagine them hanging on trees like leaves and then how a small sound could make them all open their wings, filling the air with an array of color and pollen.
I can't help but smile as the image plays in my mind. It's as if I'm revisiting who I once was. Moments like these help me remember that I'm still the girl I always was. I still have beautiful dreams and interests, even if I am quietly repairing my heart at the same time. It's difficult to remember that just because he forgot who I was, that doesn't mean I have to. I want to go to the desert and ride horses this spring, I think. I want to revisit some of the things that made me so happy when I was younger. The memories of my past with him still cloud my mind in the mornings, the sun peaking in through the blinds bring back the memory of him kissing me awake. But it wasn't until recently that I began to find a hope on my own. I can go to the desert again, I can take some time for myself for a while. I don't need to keep opening this wound, reminding myself that he doesn't want what he used to crave so deeply anymore.
The candles are flickering when we enter the church. I hold my mother's hand, I feel that the only reason I am attending the evening mass on Christmas Eve is because of her. When I was younger I used to feel something in such a place, but as I got older I began to just feel lonely and cold in churches. I don't know when it was that I gave up on having any beliefs, but I remember that ever since then there has been this sense of disappointment that seems to overwhelm me whenever I go into churches.
We find a seat and the music begins, a chorus of hymns about the birth of a messiah. My hands are clenched in my lap as I sit on the cold wood bench, and suddenly I feel my eyes blur with tears. It hits me how different Christmas was for me last year. How my father had been home, how I had a boyfriend that couldn't get enough of me. I remember having friends, sitting in a car full of laughing people with Christmas lights going past the windows in a blur as we headed to some party. Parties back then were so different; they were organized with a loving sense of preparation that is nowhere to be seen at college parties. I remember last year I hated how small my world was but now I wish I could go back to that simplicity. Instead now I am alone, the friends I have are transient, my family is broken, and I feel that no matter how hard I try I can't seem to forget him. I made the mistake of talking to him on the phone the other day; his voice was cold and distant. We couldn't even call one another friends, no matter how open or kind I was.
"On this night in a manger…" The pastor is going on, telling a story that has hit my ears many times in my life. I remember when I was a child, how I had this book with the story of Christ plastered upon the pages. I remember how even then it wasn't the story I cared about but the pictures; the gold painted wings of angels, the soft glow of Mary's face. I cannot say that I have anything against religion, but that I've never been one to feel a connection with anything except what I can create. I think that in this way, I've always been reaching for something, or someone.
I suddenly feel my throat closing up, I want to leave immediately but there is nowhere else to go. It's Christmas Eve and I couldn't feel more apathetic about the season. In fact it seems to have passed me by, the lights, the colors, everything that used to excite me has lost its glow.
I want to start over again, I want to find someone who will hold me in the rain and inspire paintings and stories to come out through my fingertips. Suddenly my face is hot with tears and I have to excuse myself. In the bathroom I see myself, my body thin and clad in a little black dress that I picked out specifically for such an occasion. But what really hits me is my eyes, when did they become so sad? Was it always so painful to meet my own gaze?
"Hey, hey, are you ok?" I glance up and see a man with soft dark eyes staring at me, his hand in mid air as if he is about to reach out and touch me. I realize I'm standing a little bit too close to the railing; the ferry isn't moving fast but I could easily fall off into the ice cold waters of the Puget Sound if I truly wanted to. It's the day after Christmas and after a holiday of my family trying to hold it together I decided I needed a day alone.
I realize the man is still looking at me, waiting for an answer and all I can do is manage to utter a small "fine". I watch as he scratches his head and looks out at the water, his eyebrows knotted up in a frown as if he's remembering something. I'm surprised at how well I'm taking this ferry ride. I was afraid that I would drown in memories when I stepped on board and looked out at the vast expanse of grey sky and water. Instead of remembering Denmark, and all of the beautiful ferry rides I used to take with him, I've found myself thinking of when I was a small child and I would take this ferry out to the islands for camping trips. The wind blowing so roughly in my face doesn't remind me of his hands in my hair on a day similar to this one, instead it reminds me of school trips and bubble gum stuck in my hair from sleeping on the benches.
"So, are you alone?" His voice is soft but deep and it reminds me of the water I'm looking at. I push my hair out of my face and look at this man; he can't be more than twenty-five years old, but that still feels so far away from me. After so many things changing in the course of just one year, I can't even begin to imagine adding seven more onto my life. Something about the sound of twenty-five brings images of success, plans, and true adulthood in my mind. I know that in reality, I'll be just as confused at twenty-five, no matter what I achieve, as I am now.
"I'm alone, I just….I wanted to take the day to just enjoy the San Juans. I-I haven't been back here since I was small." I smile meekly, looking up at him. He looks nice, if that makes any sense. His hair looks soft and it keeps blowing in his eyes as he stands on the windy deck beside me. I like the way he keeps reaching up to push it away from his forehead, his mouth twitching with annoyance and his laugh uneasy. In a way he reminds me of myself, and at that moment I know he's alone on this boat too.