02/05/96 (Greetings, Professor Falken. It's been a long time.)
friend, not friend talk to me briefly on the phone allow me to try too hard to amuse you let me come within a heartbeat of naming myself the fool friend, not friend reel me in with your vague indifference warm my heart with the fire of your tolerance bridle my expectations with your longing for another friend, not friend remember the myriad ways in which we are alike recant in clumsy conversations our oceans in common count amongst our few differences that I am mostly alone and you are mostly not friend, not friend lead my hopes on for yet another weekend patronize my tenuous dreams for yet another evening capture me in a net, stick a pin in my back solder me to the car seat blow a flame and melt the phone to my ear suture my lips so I cannot say what I one day might tie my wrists and ankles together with rope and dangle me before your face and blow gently on me so I spin like a dandelion seed and let me pretend that it is all more than a game, friend, not friend. and let me pretend that it is all more than a game, friend, not friend.
This is a tale but not a tale, a tragedy but not a tragedy.
I'm going to tell you about the River of Lights and the Two Letters, but first I need to make an apology.
I made a big mistake recently, from just before Christmas to just about now when I am trying to set things right. I began to think that running this web page, to setting my thoughts out here for people to read, somehow entitled me to certain privileges. Amongst those privileges was permission to be proud of my connection with other Net-denizens, and to brag about such to people on the phone and at parties. You see, I'm still pretty screwed up about relationships, and when a few kind people of the female persuasion were noble enough to share a few of their thoughts and fears with me I let it go to my head. I intellectually knew my arrogance over this was illusory, but somewhere in my heart I lost control. I began to somehow think this was my due. I became enamored of my own gifts, in love with my own folly. At Christmas parties back in my hometown I bragged about how women were falling all over me on the Net. I also, in my usual sterling fashion, managed at the same time to be unable to make any true connection to any of these people, to give any sign of my feelings, and thus managed to slap away nearly every hand offered me in friendship because my need and my hormones got in the way. I became what I despise, someone who uses words to cloud or lose someone, someone who lies because the truth hurts or is inconventient. So, for what it's worth, I'm sorry. My head's all better now, at least on that point, and the most I can say to those that were hurt in the time of my madness is that I'm sad and regretful and hurt over it, too - and while I doubt this apology will make any difference, I have to make it.
Now, for those of you who still have any faith in me or think my words are more than a veil, here is what I have left to say.
I sit before you tonight with my heart floating a foot in front of my chest, drying out in its bed of air, hanging where anyone can see it, touch it, take it. I sit before you tonight empty, drained: not like a wine bottle with nothing left in it; but more like a vessel that has been scoured, cleansed of all the various collections and encrustations that have infested its surface, washed clean and left upside-down on a towel, waiting to be used again.
Waiting to be used again.
I sit in this fashion and this seeming because of the second of the Two Letters, which is the subject of the last of my brief tales tonight, last because it is the one which still grips me in its razor-claws.
It's where I am now, but before I can bring you there I have to relate the other two tales, which explain how I got there.
The first tale is of the River of Lights.
I first saw the river a couple of months back. Atlanta, my current home, has that beltway around its heart like all major cities, in this case called I-285, the Perimeter. I live a few miles up the Perimeter via Georgia 400, a freeway which starts in the heart of the city and intersects the Perimeter about halfway along its northern course. Because of this placement, and the vagaries of geography, almost all journeys I take involve a short or long span of I-285 and those few miles along Georgia 400. I am quite familiar with the pathway, the sights, the periphery and background. My mind and my eyes often wander as the rest of me gets along with the automatic business of guiding me home. It was during one of these wanderings, my car enmeshed in the fairly dense traffic which fills Atlanta's major arteries on all days at almost all hours, that I noticed how much the red lights on the myriad cars and trucks ahead of my resembled a river: all flowing the same course, mostly keeping pace with each other but sometimes shifting or slowing or merging; some exiting and entering but without greatly disturbing the density or flow; winding through curve and slope, responding to the guiding of the path carved by man and machine like a single creature. As I flowed with this river, no longer pushing my vehicle forward but instead being borne in a current, I also let myself become aware that each pair of lights I saw before me (and all the brighter ones rushing towards me across the concrete barrier) contained one or more souls like myself, flowing with me, but apart, traveling the same course but all with different destinations, listening to the same song on the radio as a great number of their fellow travelers or engaged in their private music, but none of them hearing any of the others.
Flowing with me, but apart.
I forgot about the river as that night progressed, and did not notice it again until a few weeks later, again on a journey home, and this time the ride was longer and my mind less encumbered and I had time to watch the river roll.
I let myself float forward, and watched the River of Lights, and became sad.
I became sad because my ever-too-analytical mind did quick calculations and figured that while I made my journey from a place I can no longer remember to home, over ten thousand of those pairs of lights would take at least part of the same course, would fly like lemmings over nearly exactly the same way. Ten thousand, a legion or three, each part of the same stream but each encased in their shells of metal and glass, insulated from the wind and the cold and from everyone around them. I was part of a great gathering of humanity, all with the same purpose, all moving to the same beat, all making the same speed and vector changes. I was in the middle of a flood roaring over the land, sighing its way to all the same places but also to all different places. I was in the midst of a great host, a confluence of souls.
I knew not a one of them any more than the tide knows what pulls it fore and aft.
Here were all these people, all these people, traveling with me, and for all our closeness and commonness of purpose any one of them might as well be riding a yak on the other side of the world. I wasn't sad because I knew this to be true. I was sad because I knew that this combination of closeness and distance was echoed in nearly every one of life's journeys, restings, and gatherings that I could think of. I was sad because I, who take a sometimes foolish pride in expression, was close to so few people in this town of a few million lights that we could all go to lunch together without giving some restaurant manager heart palpitations. I knew that we focus on our destination, we strive to reach whatever home lies at the end of our journey, and we only stop to acknowledge those around us when it is convenient or furthers our separate causes. I knew that we reach out only rarely, and even more rarely do we make the kind of reaching out that requires us to stretch our limbs, to feel around with our fingertips, to lean out over a chasm and risk losing our balance, or place. I also knew that for all my perception of this and disdain for it, I was part and parcel of that which made me sad and sick.
That's why I wrote the First Letter.
I wrote the First Letter to my father, who is dying.
He has something the doctors call idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and which means his lungs are filling up with fibrous tissue for no known reason, and that his capacity to flood oxygen into his blood shrinks and shrinks until his heart labors to meet the demand and even walking across the room carrying a small weight leaves him out of breath. Eventually, sometime in the next few years, or maybe sooner, it will kill him, smother him, force him to leave this life gasping. His two lungs together presently equal about half of one of yours, and luckily the condition seems to at least have temporarily stabilized there. The stalemate won't last, though. He has known about this condition for just over a year now, and given its progression at the start he is frankly surprised to be alive now. He is on the list for a transplant, which will net him anywhere from two to ten more years if he is lucky, and he works out on his treadmill every day to help make the best of what he has left - but he is still dying. I knew about his illness when I made the decision to move to Atlanta, to leave the town in which my father and I both lived. I almost stayed in that town because of him, but listened to his words and my own heart and decided that it would do him more harm to think I sacrificed that for him than it would for me to not be around. We speak infrequently, and see each other once every two months or so when I can visit, and share the occasional e-mail. I have traveled home to find myself surprised at the inflation of his face due to his medication, or heartbroken to see him in his own house with tubes in his nose feeding him oxygen, or disheartened to see him having to struggle on a small moving walkway for hours just to be able to cross the room without those tubes.
And after seeing the River of Lights, I realized that I am maybe closer to those car-imprisoned wanderers than I am to my own father.
You see, no one really knows my father. He hides himself well, and at some point in his life decided that was the best way for him. I don't begrudge him that, as much as it isn't my scene, because we all choose the paths we think are best for us and we all find our own ways to hide from the cold. What his way means, though, is that even though I worked closely with him for seven years as a programmer in his small partnership, even though I spent half my time in his house after he and my mother split up with me ten and my sister eight, even though we have shared a blood, a home, and a life; I never had really reached out to him, never shown him much more than he showed me.
And now if I didn't, I might be deprived of the choice.
So I wrote what at that time was the Letter, later to become the First Letter.
It was a long letter. It took me five hours to write, from 11:00 PM on a Friday Night until the time they make the donuts.
I cried five times when I wrote that letter.
I shared everything of importance in my life with my father. I told him all the remembrances I had of him, all the impacts and effects he had on my life, even all the things which confused and infuriated me about him. Most of all, I told him how much I loved him, and how glad I was to know him for so long, and how proud I was to be his son. I had to say a lot of things in that letter, things about my mother and my childhood and the walls he had built. I knew these things would hurt him, rip him cruelly even, but the fact that they would cause pain made them no less essential than all the things I knew would give him relief and joy. I left nothing out, and in the end the good things, the lights of his life in my eyes, far outnumbered and swallowed the dark. Still, I thought, he had never heard this from me, and the bad things might swell in his eyes, and grow larger because of his own fears, and I might wind up doing more harm than good. He was in a vulnerable situation, and facing more demons and gods than I could imagine, and I was unloading a heavy burden onto his back. All these fears paled before the task - the duty I had to him as a son and the knowledge that if I misspent this chance I would be failing us both. So I cried once more, and sucked the First Letter into my mail program, and shot it as a stream of electrons towards his home.
I can't share the meat of that letter because it is his, and not mine or yours. What I can, and will, share is the ending of that letter:
- So much of my life is lies and half-truths. Only every once in a while can I do something that is pure, that comes from thirty feet into my small intestine, that doesn't carry with it all the baggage of my almost thirty years of life. But if I can come to you, the one man I owe most to and the one man I have never really reached out to, and tell you the honest-to-God-may-the- Lord-plunge-hunting-quarrels-into-my-eyeballs-if-I'm-lying truth, if I can trust you enough to open my heart all the way, even where you can see all the ugly stuff that lives in the basement, then maybe there's hope I can find that honesty elsewhere in my life.
- So know this:
- I have always seen you as one of the most admirable men I have ever known, and you are a better father than I ever deserved or could have hoped for. I account for myself poorly; and I fail to spend the time with you and your family I should; and I often let me own ugliness get in the way - but despite my failings there is maybe one day in a season that I let go by without thinking about you or worrying about you or remembering some lesson or kindness of yours. I owe more to you than you can ever dream; I know beyond a doubt that you have given me so much that I can never hope to repay the debt; that I can only make amends for this imbalance by someday trying to do the same for my own son. And I know that when I do, I will be a good father, one of the best, because I learned from one of the best.
- As a child you were my breadwinner and my best friend; you were my hero. And as I grow enough to look you in the eye, I find that the man I see from a vantage point outside his shadow is one I admire even more. After thirty years and hundreds of relatives, friends, and confidantes, out of all the men who have made a difference in my life and enabled me to get where I am and point me where I am going, you are still at the top of the list; you are still my hero.
- All of the special times in my life, all of my triumphs, all of the joys that have suffused my being over the years; all of these are due, in some part, to you. There is nothing I do or say that you are not an integral piece of; with every step I take I hear your footsteps; at every crossroads I come to I hear your voice whispering advice; if I close my eyes and place my hand to my breast and hear my heartbeat, I can hear your own heart-rhythm when you held me in your arms as a babe. If there is anything true or magical or meaningful in my life, it springs from seeds you planted, and it grows because of your warmth.
- All of these, and more, are the reasons I am glad to have known you so well for so long, and why I am proud (cliched as it may be) to be your son.
- You are my father, and I love you.
- I've made myself cry five times writing this; and I think I am going to stop now and get some sleep. I could tell you more of the various worries and ambitions that make up my life; I could include all of my poetry and stories and letters here; I could relate to you all the unbearable sweetnesses of my life that you have been a part of. But all of that can come in its own time, and all of that is meaningless and trivial before those words which I know I don't have to say but say anyway, and which I hope you will never forget:
- You are my father, and I love you beyond measure or bound or the capacity of twenty-six letters and assorted punctuation to record. Remember this, and know that it is as true as anything in either of our lives has ever been or ever will be.
That is the way I left it, and I watched the graphic bar detail the progress of its emission onto the mail server and into the world. That is how I finished all I had to say, all I could say, to my father.
I didn't hear from him for over two weeks.
What I did hear then, though, made me cry more than five times, restored my faith in him and in myself, made me realize that anything done purely in love can never be wholly wrong. My father, despite all our mutual stumblings and missteps, saw past the hurtful things I had to say, saw what I tried to pour from my heart more truly and clearly than I ever hoped, saw my letter as a gift he could never repay, as one of his life's few cherished treasures. My father knew all along, as he must, how much I loved him and how important a part of my life he was, but was still glad beyond measure to have the confirmation of his hopes and the refutation of his fears. My father let me know, in return, how he felt about me, and though I cannot repeat his words it was all very, very good. For the rest of my days, no matter what my other travails, I will always know that I did at least one thing right and true and as well as I could have hoped. I will always know that I gave my father at least one reason to be glad he lived his life, that I filled some void within him that he never knew he had, that I followed my heart and threw out a thread that was caught, and held, and treasured.
That was three months ago. It brings me to the Second Letter, penned some 40 hours ago and still generating a squall that threatens to overwhelm me, the letter that left me in the empty state you find me in tonight.
I wrote the Second Letter to a woman, not connected to me by blood.
I wrote the Second Letter to a woman, for the same reason I wrote the first - because I had no choice.
I wrote the Second Letter to a woman who I had known and loved for eight months, never during that time giving this love a voice.
Before you can see why this letter was such a sea-change for me, I have to explain to you, as I explained to her, why it was even harder to write than the First:
- When I was in the seventh grade, the sweetheart of that class was Amy Johnson. I, of course, was deeply in lust with her, and of course had no more ability to detect the feelings of others than I had to express my own. I was still stumbling, as I did most of my childhood, without any bearings, without even a curb feeler to tell me what someone else was thinking or feeling.
- So when a girl named Marianne Wright (yes, I still remember the name. Ill probably take it with me to my grave.) told me that Amy really liked me, I had no choice but to believe her. She said Amy also would really like to "go" with me. Of course, I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded pretty good. After a zillion stupid questions I found out that meant you got the girl an ID bracelet and you held hands a lot. Okay, I was all for that.
- So I got up the nerve and talked to my mom and got permission to get the money and buy the bracelet if Amy said yes, which of course given my inside information she would. The next day before the first class I came up to Amy at her desk and asked her to go with me.
- She was very polite, and said Thank You but No. Then I realized Marianne was looking at me with a less than charitable face. Then I realized almost everyone in the class was doing the same. Then most of them started laughing.
- Oh. It was a joke. Ha-ha. Good one. I sat back down at my desk.
- That was almost twenty years ago, and it was the first and last time I ever asked a girl to "go" or even to go out, the first and last time I ever handed someone a dagger and pointed the tip at my heart.
- It was the day I became a coward.
- I've fallen in love with nine women I can name since then, and probably more that I cannot, will not recall; and with none of them have I gone even as far as I did with Amy Johnson.
- I feel emotions keenly, like a dog hears a whistle. I've put all the sharpened stakes in the barriers around my heart pointing inward, and the triumphs and troubles of others fly in unimpeded. I cant even stand to watch someone on a TV show get embarrassed - I want to change the channel, to turn away. A storm rages in me around people I care about, and I can't let any of it out, I can't let them know how I feel, because to do so would be to give the seventh grade classes and Marianne Wrights of the world an avenue of attack, a way to make me hurt again - and I am spectacularly bad at dealing with that kind of pain.
- So I stay comfortably shallow, except in matters such as music where no one takes it personally and I can, for a few minutes, be the person I want to be. I squirrel away the best parts of me because those are the parts which are most vulnerable, and I guard them well. I know the Art of Humor as a Defense Mechanism like a samurai knows his blade of thousand-folded metal.
- And thus, I get exactly what I ask for, exactly what I deserve.
Well, I felt in this case I deserved more. This woman (someday when this is all less painful I may tell you her name, or more about her than the poem about her at the top of this piece will tell you) was too important to me. I had just been at a dinner the night before with her and a few of her (and partially my) friends. These friends included the man she was seeing and that, I had recently learned, she had been seeing for around six months. The sight of them sharing casual touches and embraces, of hearing her say to him the words I so desperately needed to hear in my own ears, did something to me. It drove me insane, made a wolverine grow in my gut and lay about with his claws, shrunk my head to the size of a garden pea without reducing in the slightest the measure of pain it held within its bounds. I had, in my usual cowardly fashion, felt but not dared express certain feelings over those eight months. These feelings started as a crush but grew stronger and stronger until I realized that even without my infatuation, without the support of my desire and need, without my fantasies, without any external flesh or fuel - a flame still burned. I found when I separated all explanation, all source, from my feelings about her, that there was still something there bigger than all I had taken away.
I knew then that I was in love.
I lay in bed that night and thrashed myself with shadow-arms, kept grabbing my head with my real arms and trying to figure out why I was so full of storm and rage, why my life had become a starless night and this woman the only moon, why when I thought of her all went away except a desire to run and fall into her like that first, sudden, and explosive dive into a cold and crystal lake, all full of shock and the shiver-fire and the rush of blood. I raged, and I cried, and I gripped the pillow like a long-lost brother, and eventually I spent myself enough to allow sleep to drag me down. Before I passed fitfully into that dreamless sleep I told myself that if I still felt this way when I awoke I would have to do something about it. I awoke for the first time at eight the next morning, which on a Saturday is farther from my normal rousing than I can comfortably admit. There was to be no more sleep that day, for my pain was still as strong as the night before and my need as great. I threw on clothes and contacts and went to my computer, and spent the next three hours writing the Second Letter. I told her all about my fears and explained to her as best I could that I could no longer be her friend, her big brother, her pain-sink. I told her this was because I loved her, and that I loved her more with every minute I spent with her, and that because of this every minute with her filled me with a longing and a despair that was too painful to bear. I tried in my stumbling way to convey to her exactly what was in my heart and mind, and why I was borne by this maelstrom, and why she was important enough to me to be the only person I had ever reached out in this fashion in my entire life. I tried to show her a picture of my love without trying to convince her or persuade her to return it. I tried to not use the words which I loved as much as anything but her to my own ends, but instead let them bear all I could give of myself to her. Finally, I told her that I had to retreat into the shadow, because in all of the signs my feeble abilities at the art could pick up she did not return my feelings, was either uninterested in me or scared of me, that I already knew what her answer would be, but that I still had to give her the letter and let her answer my suspicions. I told her that I had to retreat from her, closet myself away from her (my only real friend in this town), because as much as I cherished her friendship and liked her friends, it was ripping me apart to be around her with that invisible wall keeping the best parts of me from the best parts of her.
When I finished the letter, I went to Kroger on ice-covered streets , I bought an envelope for it, and I placed the letter and a videotape I had borrowed from the woman (Dead Poet's Society, to be exact) within the envelope. I wrote her name on the front and the words "Carpe Diem" on the back. I drove those long and ice-covered streets to the house she shared with several roommates, for I knew she was working. I saw that only one of her roommates, her best friend, was there, and I banged on the door at one in the afternoon until I roused her from sleep and I delivered unto her the Second Letter. The roommate was puzzled, and wanted to know what it was. I told her I couldn't say much but that it was a thermonuclear bomb, that it needed to be handled carefully, that she should give it to her friend when she was alone. I told her it contained nothing more than a bunch of stuff I should have said a long, long time ago. The friend and roommate smiled a puzzled smile and I left her and the Second Letter in the kitchen.
Six hours later the woman I wrote the letter to called me, and we spoke for an hour. What I learned was that she was already in a relationship and that she didn't think she was capable of love, that she had never been in love and didn't understand it or understand why someone would love her. She hoped this was a catharsis for me, and that we could be friends, because she was not ready to give me up. I told her this sounded like she was saying that what I said was all very nice, but she still wanted to be just friends, and she said she wasn't sure that was what she was saying. And we talked for a further time without saying anything and we decided that we weren't getting anywhere.
We decided to go see a movie instead (Richard III, to be exact).
The movie was sold out, so we wound up eating dinner in a Yakatori Bar instead. I found she was unable to speak to me about the Second Letter face to face, even less than she could speak over the phone. We went back to her house and waited for her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend to show up so we could go out to a local bar where more friends and the man that made me insane to start with waited, and we still couldn't talk about it. Finally, her roommate's boyfriend arrived, which reduced the conversation to pleasantries, and later the roommate arrived. The roommate had decided not to go out, so this woman and I were going to take separate cars to this bar. I told her I couldn't go, that without the buffer of other familiar faces the sight of her and the man would be more than I could take. I told her, then in the carport and earlier in the kitchen, that I had said all I could say, that I was empty and spent and that she could say anything without doing damage. I told her that she had to therefore be honest and clear and painfully direct about it. I told her to take whatever time she needed and to give me a real answer. I asked her to call me the next day after her Sunday's work and let me know what that was going to take.
I spent the rest of that night, and most of Sunday morning, reading C.S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces, a book she had casually given me in response to my mentioning I was out of reading material. This book that turned out to be the story of a woman who makes a mistake and winds up betraying a sister. For this mistake, the woman is then cursed by the gods to be unable to love for the rest of her life, despite being successful in all her other endeavors. I will probably never know the reason the hand of the woman I sent the letter to found that book, either conscious or unconscious, but it remains a wonderment and a puzzle to me on this night. During the time after the talk in kitchen and carport, I had called a few people, important to me, just to hear their voice and to give myself a reality check, to share a little of my pain and to tell them what I was going through. But mostly I waited. I waited, napping fitfully or watching TV, until five in the afternoon that Sunday (now by my watch over for some one hundred and ten minutes). At five the phone rang, and I heard the woman tell me that she was going to have to think about what I said for a couple of days, and then write me a letter in return.
Now you know all that I know on the subject of the Second Letter, with exception of this:
I am not now, nor will I ever be, sorry that I wrote it. Regardless of what the outcome (which I suspect will be no more and no less than I expect) is, I will be ennobled and sustained by that outcome. I have found that after I wrote and delivered the letter I was not nervous or apprehensive, but rather filled with a release and a glee that made me giggle on the drive back home. I have found that while we may fear the opening of our hearts to receive rejection in return, we need not fear the pain of that rejection, for in the giving of ourselves and in the receiving of whatever comes back we know passion, we know that we are alive. I have found that there lies a freedom in placing your whole heart in the hands of another that is far greater than the freedom from pain that the alternative offers. Since I wrote the letter, and since I knew it was received, every song I have heard has come through stronger and in a different voice, every breath I have taken has tasted different, colder but not more bitter, biting but not barbed. Every color of my life seems dipped in a richer hue, and from time to time I find a mournful and melancholy smile painting itself on my lips which was never there before. Even though I know this woman may not want to, may not be able to, return my love, somehow having and offering the love is enough. Even though I long to see her in the morning light, to hold the back of her neck and feel her pain melt away, I know that by letting this longing loose in the world I have already won, I have already found my answer and my exoneration.
So you find me before you, aching but already finding surcease, empty but only in a way that leaves me more filled than ever before, without direction or compass but seeing the way before me clearly and to a great distance. You find me before you with my heart torn from my chest and hovering before us, but glad to be free of its cage and not regretting the sting of the air or the eyes upon it. You find me before you torn asunder, but at the same time for the first time a whole man. You find before you a man who will never make a grudging settlement with Life again.
This I leave you, this one lesson I have learned from the River of Lights and the Two Letters: nothing born purely of love can ever be in vain. When you follow your bliss, when you listen to your heart, you may find yourself led into depth and darkness, you may find yourself crushed between rocks or lifted high by a hangman's noose, you may experience visions which make you want to sit out in the cold in your underthings until frostbite swallows your limbs. You may open yourself to all these horrors and more, you may invite all manner of abyssal creatures into your life, but I tell you as one who has followed his heart into that dark night that when you are true to yourself no night can fully envelop you, no noose can choke out your life, no frost can touch the part of you that matters. I tell you this because the hurt and the storm are only and no more than that which makes us strong enough to bear the love that we must, we will, eventually find; and because the alternative to throwing your heart into those raging rapids is to keep it ensnarled and bound. I tell you that when a Letter, whatever form it takes, calls to you, you must write it and you must send it because the sound of that call is the same sound that drags the poet to his forge and brings the lost child back in from the cold.
So heed your heart and walk the steeper path, and damn the consequences. I tell you this because I have looked into the face of the beast and spent a night in its belly, and I am no worse for the wear, and in fact something more than I was before. I tell you this because I must; because you take the time and care to read my words and share my pain and because you are therefore one of the few fellow travelers of mine who walk with their arms outstretched instead of held close and tight and who ride with their eyes looking at the faces of those around them instead of seeking only the road ahead.
And now I find myself before you at the end of my night's journey, and I leave the river for a little while, and I commend you to each other's care. And having said these words to you while we traveled together, I find myself awaiting that letter from a woman I love with a little less fear and a little more acceptance.
I find myself before you, walking away, becoming apart but not becoming alone; reaching my home, entering, and closing the door.
But not locking it.
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