Told in Tandem with the Woodsman
There are some days when I should not allowed around sharp objects. Not because I would intentionally cause harm to myself or others, but because I simply have no business wielding a tool that could slice flesh.
Today is like that.
I’m in a fog. A dreamy fog. Even as I peck out these sentences, the words swim across the page, separating so I see two sets. Until I give up and just begin to type without seeing. Like a blind person.
When I picked up the box cutter knife to open the package at my desk, I stared at the blade and watched my disembodied hand. And I realized that’s how I felt for so long. Disembodied. I would see myself from the outside, watching my actions curiously, to see if the script in my head would actually play out. It often did.
I was blind for so long. I see that now. For years I went through life blindly bumping into people, hoping they were what I sought. Or worse, doing things just to feel alive, even for a moment.
So I would touch. And be touched. And that would help. For a little while. And then… it wouldn’t. And the search would continue, even though I didn’t realize I was actively searching. Because I didn’t believe what I desired existed. It’s odd to look back and understand I was on my own blind quest, not realizing it.
I am a searcher. The path and the goal are one in the same. But it joins with that need that I saw as the goal, as the culmination.
So many years, I believed it was the search for the key, the goal, the end point. The final discovery that would make the search complete and the self fulfilled.
She told me. Showed me. Guided me subtly, without my recognition or focused awareness. She made me see that I am an eternal searcher.
And showed me the need for the other side of that filter, other half of that key, that would make the searcher understand the experiences and steps taken.
I am a private person. Given the option to be perspicuous or keep a secret, I naturally choose the secret.
When he would talk to me, he made it clear how openly he lived. “Of course she knows about X. Transparent, it’s the only way I know how to be,” he said. And then he’d chime in with what one of his women had said regarding something I had told him. Because he was open. This unnerved me. I didn’t know how to react. If he was sharing with others what I had shared with him, did that make it “not special” to him? Did that make me not special?
So I would pull back. Retreat. Like a hermit crab into the safety of the shell. Strange metaphor for an extravert. But there is only so much I can show the world. And his openness… it wasn’t safe for me. I couldn’t be one of many.
I am a private person. Given the option to be perspicuous or labyrinthine, I naturally choose. . . abstruse.
Why me? I never had an answer to that question, yet I never put it forward between us. My closeted elephant-in-the-room—a mixed metaphor, as I was prone to use.
That carefully crafted facade, that I easily saw as a facade, was enough to veil herself to the world. I believed she must have received what she sought through that presentation. Yet… why come back to the conundrum of what tied us together? For most, it would be too tangled, too exhaustive, too perplexing to be worth time or effort.
That conundrum… reinforced by showing myself as the opposite of her carefully crafted facade on the other side of our mirror.
Seeing if she would understand that first lesson: transparent communication is the key to everything. Gauging if she could take that defiance of her world. Testing if she could be one of the few to accept it.
But I kept coming back. Months would pass with no contact. And then I would reach out. There was something pure about him that drew me. And even with his open way of living, or perhaps because of it, he had my trust from the beginning.
He was also safe from my sick habit of collecting men. His openness protected him from that. He told me about the women he craved. The One he wanted above all others. And I listened. I attempted to comfort. I asked hard questions. So in my head, he went into the “taken” bin. The impervious pile. And we progressed as friends. But why was he always so happy to hear from me? I could feel his giddiness. But it wasn’t me he wanted… then.
I was always there. . . when she would come back. Through the months of distance, I would wonder if that drift was caused by the directness being unbearable. That I didn’t fit her conveyance of life, and what she expected of everyone else.
Throngs surrounded her, followed her, and she would touch. Each was eventually discarded … gently. I wouldn’t compromise myself and become a number in her count of the distracted masses. I wouldn’t tolerate just being touched. I wanted to see past her crafted magnetism and see the hidden self she shielded. I couldn’t be one of many.
Always, I hoped she would come back, and that she wouldn’t break.
Most would break when I talked about the One. Because the One was important.
And then, suddenly, at least it seemed sudden to me, he had released the One. In contact still, yes… but they had both taken steps that unbound that side of love. He was alone. And I was alone. With the barriers gone…
I would forever be there to storm the gates of hell for the One, but I could never be her Other. I accepted and it was released. My vault was still unopened, and the narrow passageway leading to it was uncrowded. The only key I had ever seen had broken trying to fit.
Happenstance or fate, the day was right. Everything … changed. She walked to the vault and was the key. She unlocked the vault. The vault doors swung wide and embraced her, becoming her shelter.
…magic. Electricity. And exponential increase. He showed me the impossible. He wanted me, and not just the pretty facets. He needed me, and not only the concupiscent parts. He instinctively knew how to love… all of me.
She is setting her ships on fire. I see the uncertainty and pain caused by the smoke, but she keeps burning more ships. Fewer remain and those behind are burnt to a shell.
Some are torched beyond repair. Some remain strong enough to serve another purpose. Friendship, of course.
Through it all, I see her glance at me with each swath of the past gone. Showing me that this is her choice… for us.
I watch as he burns his bridges, dousing them thoroughly with kerosene so the destruction is total and complete. He pulls me to his side, an arm lovingly around my shoulder, and we watch the flames lick higher together. His lips tenderly kissing my temple and whispers, “You aren’t perfect, but you’re perfect for me.”