Once, when I was happily, deliriously weaving my way home from some party, in my young-womanhood, desperately seeking -— what? I suppose, love and admiration — I found it.
I would often walk home under the street lamps, on the wide sidewalk of my suburban town’s busiest road. Sundress and heels, or maybe mens’ boots, depending on the mood; fashion was of utmost importance either way. I was a reveller in beauty, loved beauty, hounded beauty, my own (whatever of it that I could muster, or magic) and that of others. But I could never get enough and never be enough, to satisfy myself.
Anyway, I would always walk home, from the bar or a party, if I could, even as much as five kilometres, sometimes more. Much rather do that than spend my money on a cab, thrifty student that I was; much rather do that than face the end of the night, and the privileged responsibilities of day. I never wanted the fun to end. And I would always go alone, if I could, though I’d have chivalrous offers to be accompanied. I wanted to be alone, and away from all that thriving togetherness I’d just experienced, yet I also still wanted to be seen and known, yet again by strangers, who were less committed and more impressionable; I wanted to be sought and found, though remaining clearly unidentified; and I was seeking too, always seeking.
And I would walk along that busy four-lane road, which wasn’t quite as busy after midnight, but still busy and well-lit enough to be safe, as well as a little dangerous. I would hope for connection, momentarily and potentially menacing, but eternally safe, and under my seeming, dreaming control. And often I would find it.
It’s amazing how lucky I was. Very little bad ever happened. I craved likes and loves, which didn’t yet exist in the form of digital hearts and stars and thumbs-up, but only in honks and whistles and whoops and shouts, shouts of joy and appreciation from other freedom-riders. And if I played it safe I would pretend not to notice, and I would chastely study the thrumming cracks in the sidewalk, or the strumming street lamps; but sometimes, when the freedom had whipped itself into a frenzy in my heart and I was ecstatic from the revelling at the party I’d just left, and from the emptiness and loneliness of my denouementic walk, I would smile beaming back, from the crescendo of our suddenly conjoined beat.
Of course, there were some backhanded derogative remarks, or silent stares of disapproval from the self-righteous multitudes, and those would cut and burn to the core, instilling change for ever more; but those were less plentiful or visible than the likes, so I persisted in my seeking stride, and in my spangled angelitude.
So one time this guy, beautiful soul, was walking the other way down the sidewalk, walking towards me and I toward him. And I was studying the stars and aiming to study the stars as hard as I could, while smiling angelically, for I yearned for true connection but didn’t know how to get it, and I didn’t know what to do with it when I found it, so I was genuinely shy and genuine, as well as subtly bold and manipulative, for that’s how the world had raised me to be, in its cunning cradle. And this young guy (well, older than me at the time, I’d guess), fell for it, or saw through it, or was doing the same dance himself perhaps, and he said something, I don’t remember what, maybe just “hi,” but the meaning clear in his voice, was, in my own heart’s translation at least, “you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever laid eyes on.” Or maybe he said that out loud. All I know is my heart interpreted love emanating from this other being, and I was so glad to receive it, and my heart gave it back.
And it was Christmas eve, or nearing it maybe, and he convinced me to come with him to wherever he lived, just around the corner it was, and though you may be getting an anxious feeling or a sordid one right now, you needn’t worry, for we never touched, except perhaps fingertips for a millisecond, or maybe hearts for a millennium, and if hearts, it was through layers of cotton and jersey, that much is certain; though if so, I don’t remember and it didn’t matter at all if we did or didn’t, for that was inconsequential and existential to the moment, if we did; our union was spiritual, not physical, though certainly fuelled by molecular substance.
And all he did was say a bunch of drunken, loving things, such as that I was like an angel, which pleased my equally-or-perhaps-slightly-less-drunken self to sky’s end, since that was exactly what I had been trying to be, out there striding on the sidewalk in the well-lit dark — an angel; and he said I’d changed his life but I don’t know why, though I wondered well enough, and didn’t ask; and it was certainly more like he’d changed mine, in that moment, by giving me some kind of confirmation of a half-truth that I’d been yearning for, which is what I likely told him truthfully, in return.
So we exchanged all these loving words, this stranger and I, whose face I don’t remember much at all, except his eyes, which contained the universe, and blazed like stars, and then he took an angel from his tree and handed it to me, as a parting gift. And then I thanked him profusely, and I left, and he let me go, reluctantly but gladly and generously, and we were both smiling, and with love in our eyes, and we neither of us cared, I’m sure, that’d we’d never meet again, for we certainly would; or at least, the only part of us that mattered.
Image credit: screen-shotted from https://www.gratistodo.com/fantasy-gifs/ via a quick DuckDuckGo image search using keywords “tree angel art pinterest.” (Artist unnamed at that site; though by doing a reverse Google Image search, traced the Gif portion of the credit to the legally-blind, amazing motion artist and innovator, George RedHawk.)
Nadine inhales & exhales words & images from current vantage point in Zone of Emptiness, France. Thank you for reading. ❤︎