A number of years ago–at different moments–we both took our first breaths. While you were living the life of a child in another state, I was born under a neon blue star in a hospital in Birmingham, Alabama that has since shut down. And that’s how we started, even though we didn’t know it yet.
We lived a significant portion of our lives, each of us ignorant to the existence of the other. We loved and fought and made our way through the weeds and tall grass. You loved a man with hands that were large and strong, but he didn’t know how to use those hands to hold your heart. And slowly, your heart began to shrink down to a size that allowed it to slip through the creases in his fingers, and you escaped.
And I loved a state, though I didn’t know it, and I continued to bounce around inside of Georgia making a life for myself doing what I loved. I felt happy. But that was before I knew, really, what that meant. It was a big state and it had a lot of people, but it was missing one.
I’m not a mathematician, but I did well enough in geometry to understand angles, and I know this: years ago–decades even–from two different points both called birth, we started drawing our lines without realizing that those lines would crash into each other one year ago. I use the word “crash” because I’m not sure there is another word for it. I wasn’t expecting to see you on a Thursday afternoon in a conference session in Greenville, SC. And by all accounts, you were surprised, too. We both had plans that were revised in an instant.
There were six-hour road trips, book festivals, and crumbled bed sheets. There were days spent with your kids and nights spent in the soft glow from television sets wrapped in each other. All the while, my love for you grew until it was too big for me to carry alone, and I moved to be nearer to you so we could help each other with the carrying of heavy loads.
At this moment one year ago, the lines that our lives had been drawing were getting ready to collide, and if I could go back in time, I would tell that version of myself nothing. I would want him to get to experience it all as I have.
Cormac McCarthy writes in The Road:
“He remembered waking once on such a night to the clatter of crabs in the pan where he’d left steakbones from the night before. Faint deep coals of the driftwood fire pulsing in the onshore wind. Lying under such a myriad of stars. The sea’s black horizon. He rose and walked out and stood barefoot in the sand and watched pale surf appear all down the shore and roll and crash and darken again. When he went back to the fire he knelt and smoothed her hair as she slept and he said if he were God he would have made the world just so and no different.”