We sit across from one another, a small table between us, coats and bags at our feet. It is cold out and the requisite clothing, now off, is spilling over toward the next table. I sip on white wine. He tells me it’s not good for me. He drinks water. Carbs too, he says. He orders meat. I ask for the pasta.
And because I know he cares for me, I let him ask the hard questions. What is the future? Have you decided to go back to school? What will your life look like in five years? What will you bring to the table? How will you make money?
And my stomach twists in an uncomfortable knot. Because the truth is, I don’t know.
And he sounds like my father.
I only know there is a small seed of self-belief. And a faith that I am moving toward something. The shape and depth of which has yet to reveal itself.
But for a linear mind these are not answers enough. It’s hardly enough for my mind, which moves in many directions and all at once.
It’s hard to say, wait, just wait. It’s coming. When I can’t be sure what it is.
How much I want to make it all tangible, for others, as well as myself.
But I’m learning--I think what I’m learning is, the answers--or any semblance of an answer--lie on the other side of returning home each night, sitting before the computer, and writing.
Which is a relatively solitary existence. Occasionally lonely, but mostly not.
To write more.
To write relentlessly and persistently and ruthlessly.
To revel in those few hours each night. In the honor of the fight. To celebrate the commitment. Because not everyone gets to spin air into magic. And at this moment in my life, I get to try.
We speak different languages. Literally and metaphorically. His hard questions are met by my own. About love. And what it means. And doesn’t he think he should hold out for the real thing? He thinks my version of the real thing doesn’t exist. And we sit in silence wondering who is right. And living with the possibility that, in this context, right is beside the point.
Because there are so many shades to the thing. And we all make our own choices.
English is not his native tongue. He will complement my photographs, but never my words. He hasn’t a clue if I’m any good. And most days, I don’t know either. But I go back to the words of Brian Doyle--again and again:
...It's what I do, and what I love to do, and no one else can do it quite like I do.
Better, perhaps--but not with my particular flavor and music, and somehow, in a way I do not wholly understand, that is important, and in a very real sense miraculous, and necessary.
How I wish he could hear the music of my particular voice.
How I wish I could give him the answers.
But it is for this reason--and so many others--that our affection begins and ends with dinners and hard questions and a kiss goodnight. And with him walking away.
So I drink my wine. Because I believe in a glass with dinner. And I order the pasta, because I believe in carbs, too. And I let him kiss my neck and I pull on the collar of his coat and then I go home and I write.
And sit with my questions.
And do my best to suss out answers . And make peace with the terror of not-knowing.
And I remind myself: Wait, just wait. It’s coming.