It’s been a year since I got on a plane and flew north.  I knew that that trip would be monumental… maybe life defining.  I didn’t know to what extent, and I couldn’t have guessed that things would turn out like they have.  Or that I’d be sitting here, a year later, rebuilding this blog and writing a post about how everything has changed… how there’s this stupid, ridiculous void that’s been there since April, since it all ended, that I cannot seem to fill. 

I mean yeah, I miss my friend.  I miss laughing until I cried.  I miss his random singing during the middle of a Fortnite shootout… hell, I miss playing Fortnite with him altogether – and it’s not the same when I play on my own.  I didn’t even bother to buy a pass this season.  I miss all of that.  Especially now that a full year has actually passed since my plane touched down, since I realized (pretty quickly) that the truth of it all was simply this: for nearly twenty years, I’ve been trying to “replace” the person I carelessly, foolishly, and naively threw away.  Twice. 

But it’s more than missing my friend – even more than that realization that I, at random times, still flagellate myself over.  I miss what he stood for – security, stability, contentment… that feeling of being “home” that I haven’t experienced with any other human before or since (not the first time, not the second time, and not the most recent time either).  And I miss his decisiveness – the way he makes plans, the way he expresses and/or acknowledges desires, and the way that he makes those things happen… the things he really wants. 

If I was swept off my feet (and he did, once, ask me what it would take to sweep me off my feet – at the time I didn’t have an answer), it was largely because of that… and what it stood for.  It was more than all the “stuff”… or even the sex.  I mean, all of that was lovely, and the two weekends I spent with him were some of the happiest I’ve spent since 2002 (yes… pathetic… it is what it is).  I’ve never felt more wanted or spoiled.  But it wasn’t about the stuff at all.  It was what it all said… what it inferred… which could easily have been (and WAS) expressed simply by nature of the fact that he made TIME for me.  He made PLANS for me.  I was, for a little while anyway, a priority.  And he took care of me in ways that I didn’t know that I needed to be taken care of. 

But, as I said, he’s decisive.  He’s not (and never has been) one of those people that lives in some fantastical world where he says, one minute, that he wants to do something someday and then “someday” never comes.  With him, it’s not someday… it’s some day.  Not indefinite, but definite.  When he decides to do something, he does it.  That was the case a year ago when he made the decision to fly me up.  It was also the way the decision was made in December to bring me back.  And, looking back on it now, I can only imagine that it was the same when he decided to end it all in April. Especially when I consider how decisive and fast, how sudden and sure, that ending was. Even though he never told me the reasons why.

In Tarot-speak, when I think of those decisions, especially the April one, I think of the Knight of Swords… this man, on a horse, riding in, waving his sword around erratically, unstoppable once he knows what his mission is.  Cutting down all in his path.  Though, really, he’s much more developed than a Knight… maybe he’s more like the King – measured and thoughtful about it, more thorough than the knight – but also capable of cutting down (or cutting out) anything he doesn’t want in front of him anymore. Both court cards have a reason… there’s always a reason… it’s just not always expressed to the person that’s having their head cut off.

Still… for the person on the chopping block, it doesn’t much matter whether he’s a Knight or a King.  The sword is equally painful… even if the method of deployment is, perhaps, more strategic.

I told Cole the other night that I did not, at all, regret the time I spent up north.  But I’m still awfully sorry I did it – and we compared it to finding some candy you used to eat as a kid.  You’ve spent all this time remembering how awesome it was… and then you have some and it’s just as awesome as you remembered – even more so, really… – but then, shortly after you rediscover it, it gets pulled off the market, never to be sold again. 

Or, maybe it’s even more like the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter… you probably know this story.  In the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry stumbles upon a mirror that shows him what he desires most.  For Harry, it was to see his parents.  And his family.  He returns again and again, under his invisibility cloak, to see them.  Dumbledore finds him one night and warns him that…

“… Men have wasted away before, it, entranced by what they have seen, or been driven mad, not knowing if what it shows is real or even possible.”

That’s what that trip, and the short period before and after it, felt like for me – like looking into the Mirror of Erised.  I saw the thing I wanted, the thing I missed the most (and I didn’t even know that I wanted or missed it until I had it).  But, more than that, I got to step THROUGH that mirror.  It was REAL.  Or, at least, it felt pretty fucking real.  And then I didn’t have it anymore for reasons that I can’t define.  Someone moved the mirror.  Or maybe it shattered.  Regardless, whatever I had, whatever that was, whatever was made real for a minute, isn’t real anymore. 

And now, not terribly unlike the people who waste away in front of the mirror, I wonder, sometimes, if it ever was real.  I mean I know it was.  I still have the boarding passes and the museum pamphlet.  I still have the birthday card.  I still have the photos from the dinners (and I really should take the one I had printed off my fridge, but I can’t bring myself to do that… not even six months after the mirror disappeared). 

I keep thinking about that mirror though… and those times… not just because I wish I could go back there… or, better yet, that they had never ended at all.  But also because, regardless of what happened to that mirror, it’s taught me one thing: not to settle, anymore, for breadcrumbs.  Because, up until October of 2020 (really, honestly, ever since I played the Knight of Swords myself in 2002), all I’ve settled for, all this time, were breadcrumbs. 

And I know, now, that I deserved better than breadcrumbs – especially when I was making seven-course meals in exchange for whatever I could get.   (I HAD better than breadcrumbs… I had a full loaf of bread. And soup. And pork roast. And macaroni and cheese. I cannot even begin to explain why my nineteen year old self, then, decided to exchange all of that for “crumbs…” I’ve tried to be charitable with her about it, but the more I think about it, the more frustrated I become.)

In other words, as my friend Cole put it today: “Show me your calendar and your bank statement, and I’ll tell you what your priorities are.”  A year ago someone made time for me.  He spent money on me too, but it was his time (and his desire) that I valued the most.  He wanted me for ME.  Not for what I had to give, not for what I could do for him, not because he needed a mother or a nurse, or because he wanted the validation… not for any reason other than that he wanted to spend time with me.

Still, though, I also know how rare it is to find someone who has anything BUT breadcrumbs to offer.  Or someone who can, at least (whether I like the way it turns out or not) make words and thoughts become actions.   I can’t stop looking for that damned mirror.  Or, at least, for something other than a bowl of crumbs.