Tuesday, Jun. 28, 2022 @ 1:42 pm
I accept all social invitations. The weather heats up. Days pass in a blur. Forests, dogs, jumping into the ocean, sunsets, kids hanging from my arm, inhaling the aroma of crushed sagebrush, and the rhythm of hoofbeats reverberating through my body.
An extraordinary bout of vomiting in the grassy orchard in the campground. I haven’t thrown up since I was a kid, and the experience is as terrible as I remember. Unable to breathe, panicking, crying, while my body hurls my stomach contents out of my mouth and nose. Before I have recovered enough to gather water from the pump to pour across the mess of kale, mussels, and potatoes, an off leash dog gobbles it all up.
I spent three days at the ranch with my childhood best friend, the one who dumped me when I was 12 years old and she had just turned 13. That event changed me, shaped me. Who would I be if that hadn't happened?
At the ranch, we talked about surface level things. There is so much of her life that I’ve missed, basic facts about where she’s lived and her occupations. Her life surprisingly linear: school, career, marriage, house, children. Mine a zig zag across time and space. I didn’t have the courage to go deeper. Apparently she didn’t either.
Each morning we’d meet for breakfast, my sister snoozing as long as possible before the morning mount up. We sat across from each other sipping mismatched mugs of coffee. Her telling stories about her daughter. Me studying the lines around her eyes. Sometimes we’d say the same thing at the same time: jinx!. You can’t have grown up with someone and not still share some of the same pieces. The same turn of phrase. Our intonations uncannily similar. Despite everything, we are one and the same.
On the third day we parted ways, her driving east back to Nelson, me headed south to the coast. Driving through the arid canyon, my heart gave way, and I cried. Sad. So sad for all of the years that we could have been friends.
Should I have done something differently? Should I have reached out years ago so that we could one again be a part of each other's lives? Was I wrong about her all of this time? In my head she was a monster. In reality, she’s just like me, going about life and being in the forest and nurturing her relationships and tethered to the same street on which we both grew up.
We asked someone to take a photo of us together, both of us messy from two hours on the dusty trails. The first photo of us together in thirty years. I put my arm around her. I touched her. The girl who causes me so much pain.
Squinting into the sun, I smiled.
I can’t erase the sadness, nor the past. I can only move forward with gratitude that she is once again in my life. I can only move forward with courage and an open heart.
Like a sister come back from the dead, Carolyn is once again by my side.