We use the term heartache as a metaphor but I wonder. I feel physical pain when my heart is involved. And that pain is probably why I continue to build the walls I do.
It still hurts to think of what my aunt is facing in the coming months but I’m slowly reaching the numb place behind the walls. I can think about her without crying; I can almost talk about her without tearing up. We don’t know exactly what she’s facing, obviously; the many test results will come in next week and she’ll likely start treatment soon thereafter – but even that information doesn’t truly tell us what is to come. Ultimately, yes, I know the outcome. She does, too. But how we get there, and when, isn’t in evidence just yet.
So, as much as it’s out of character for me, I’m going to try very hard to concentrate on the here and now. She’s still here; I have her now; and we’ll navigate the future as we get there. How my heart will manage, I don’t yet know.
I’m back in PRU City today, and regularly scheduled life has recommenced. The suitcases are unpacked; the clothes are in the laundry room. I’ve responded to a few emails. I’ve had dinner with my girlfriends. Tomorrow, I’ll be up at a decent hour to continue working through the lengthy list of things I need to do as I both live here and prepare to leave here.
I was actually back yesterday, in theory, but I met up with Rockford in a nearby city instead of coming straight home. He was there for a conference and we decided to extend his stay an extra night so we could have some time together in a place we like.
It didn’t quite work out as planned, since I ended up getting there later than expected. Since it was so late, we stayed close to the hotel for dinner and drinks, rather than going farther afield to explore a section of town we really like. Dinner was fine – nothing that special – but the bar afterward was nice, and the rest of the evening was definitely memorable. I don’t know if he really missed me, or if we benefitted from a change of venue, or if he had an epiphany but it was a very nice get-away.
I do wonder if the drunk guy at the bar played a role in all this. The place was crowded so we ended up at the bar; there was only one open seat, so Rockford gave it to me and stood to the side. It was rather evident the gentleman on my other side had been imbibing for quite some time but he was pleasant enough, as well as very talkative, so our time together passed in a relatively enjoyable manner – in part because the guy loved me. Rockford kept laughing at his heavy-handed compliments and whispering into my ear, “You sure made an impression on this guy!”
In vino veritas, perhaps, though. During the twists and turns of conversation, I watched as Rockford got that tiny bit possessive: stood a bit closer, put his hand on the back of chair, leaned against me. I listened to him as he agreed with the guy that I was very pretty and we did make a good-looking couple and he wasn’t the first person to mention that. I felt his eyes on me as we sat and talked; I heard him stand up for me when the guy said something potentially rude; I saw him offer a knowing little smile when I made a few snarky comments. We really felt like a couple last night, and I could tell he was happy to have me beside him. Later that night, when he pulled me against him while he slept, I felt more at peace with him than I have in a long time.
I don’t need a lecture on how we aren’t suited or why it’s better to make a clean break when I leave or how he isn’t the right guy for me or why we’d never work as a couple. I can answer all those claims for you and make a pretty convincing case that they’re all true.
That’s not how the heart works, though. I like this man, very much. Despite and because. He confuses me and frustrates me and exasperates me; he isn’t the most sophisticated or cosmopolitan; he doesn’t listen as much as he should or respond as well as he could; he’s completely wrong-headed in many of his political and societal convictions. Yet. He still manages to make me happy; he manages to make me laugh; he manages to make me step away from work and just enjoy being; he manages to make me think. The interests that we share are ones that move me, and it means a lot to share my enthusiasm for history and music with someone equally enthralled. And when he puts his arm around me, all the noise in my head stops. Whether we’re sitting in a bar or stretched out on the sofa or eating dinner with friends or falling asleep at the end of the day, the noise stops when I feel his arm coil around me and pull me close.
I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m too often a fool with a very poor track record with relationships. I don’t need a diagnosis of my faults and foibles or a list of my flaws and frailties. I can tell myself all of those things, likely more accurately than anyone on the outside looking in. The difficulty is the strangeness of the human heart. It rarely manages to do what we expect of it.