Lately I've found the soil of my soul turned, again and again, by the turns my life has taken--and now I think I'm ripe for growth. Hubris had me forgetting how much I have yet to learn, and how little I know now. It is so easy, when you're comfortable, to think that you have a tight hold on your life and how it will be--to believe that you have enough imagination to picture the millions of outcomes, enough control to make them come true. But of course, the universe wouldn't let me get away with that kind of thinking for too long, as it so rarely does for anyone, and so I find myself being handed down lessons--of who I am, and how to dream, and what it is I was made for. 

I remembered, when Darren left for the far North, how long it has been since I've been really alone--the kind of solitude that sinks into your heart of hearts, making the center of your chest go very quiet and the mind suddenly very loud. I had forgotten all of this in the joy of companionship, in the ease of being around a person who matched me so well--when you find someone who is on your same rhythm, it becomes second nature to have them around, their presence like a second harmony in the head. Now I only hear my song again, distance and time and the crackly noise of cell phones making Darren seem farther and farther away, but in it myself closer. In the pain of separation has been the gift of independence, the gentle re-emergence of what feels like a long-lost friend. I love Darren and miss him desperately, I feel his absence keenly, but I am too proud to be left miserable and so I keep choosing to find strength in independence and peace in solitude. 

Although I have to say I'm not really alone, because I'm almost always with Cedar. Maybe this negates the whole sense of self I've come to--because his presence is so big, and so loud, that it's akin to having another person in the room. He is anything but subtle. I can't tell though if I'm beginning to go a little dog-like, or if he keeps become human-like. Maybe both. I smell the wind more deeply, he sleeps with his head on a pillow. I raise my hackles at strangers, he whines when we say Darren's name. Jury's still out. 

I don't lack community, and I will always have my family--my sisters my truest friends, my parents still my guiding lights-- and so I can't claim unhappiness, or any kind of hermit-like isolation (it does have its draw though, and Darren is the one who once bought a book for me on historical hermits and how they lived, so clearly he understands me...but I digress). But there is much changed in my day-to-day life, in small ways and in bigger ways, and it has forced me to shed a skin I had grown very comfortable in. I was in Alaska very recently, to see Darren for the first time since he'd left, and we had to get re-acquainted, find out who the other had become when we weren't together. It isn't pretty, always, in the way that growth rarely is. But it is necessary, I think, and very worth it. 

In the end I will remember this--sitting on the steps down to his cabin, the dry yellow of aspen leaves rustling like a rain stick overhead with each rush of wind, the water out in front of us cold blue and whipped from the weather, and inside Darren putting on one of our favorite artists, the music drifting out on the wind. He whistles along to the opening bars, a familiar sound made foreign by time apart, and for a moment I'm undone--by sorrow, for how much I've missed him, and joy, to hear it again, and pride too, for how far we've come, together and apart.