“Fare forward, you who think that you are voyaging;
You are not those who saw the harbour
Receding, or those who will disembark.
Here between the hither and the farther shore
While time is withdrawn, consider the future
And the past with an equal mind.”
T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages
I do not have words for the last days of my journey.
This is not to say that they were less wonderful, less fascinating. Playing breton and yiddish songs in the smoking room of a club on pause from gay bingo, treading slowly through the press of people in an open-air market to feel their thoughts, sitting wistfully below a willow which for the last three years stood motionless in a framed photograph upon my bedroom wall. Sleeping and waking and dreaming to arms of warmth, smiles of friends unseen for years, the Other whispering always still and then, suddenly, withdrawing until I made a choice.
Staring at a canal from the edge of a bridge, the place I’ve gone in my head relentless times when the present revealed itself as less than even it’s shadow, I remembered: it was a vow which brought me here. It will be a vow which brings me back.
You can weave love, like stories, into the warmest of cloaks to wrap about you against the coldest of winds. Not all shields must be made of wood or metal, and not all which protects you must prevent you.
The night before I left I played in darkness, unknown songs pouring from my flute into the breathing air, the chill. Again, his voice, questioning–“did you forget? You should not forget.” Remembered always when most needed, when most required, awakening those who listen past life and death, awakening what hears past flesh and bone.
I’d gone for reasons near numerous as stars, but one, outshining the others, reminded itself to me, what I could not leave without addressing, what I could not part without deciding.
Another vow to gods and land and spirits, another vow to myself.
I have wondered to myself why these nearly five weeks were so different from the other four times I’ve been to Europe. Each time I’ve left bits of my soul, bits of my heart in those lands, and have wondered to myself why I’d go back again just to feel the pain of leaving.
Like love, knowing an ending is birthed in every beginning, why embrace what will one day cause pain?
But this analogy falters on a truth I’ve learned, a self I’ve finally met. I’ve scattered myself elsewhere on purpose, to draw myself back, to sabotage the saboteur. I did not know we could wield desire until now, relying only upon unconscious forces and whims to draw ourselves to others, others to ourselves.
I am in America now, after having selected and chosen and left bits of my soul elsewhere for safekeeping, things I intend not to live without, things I must see again.
I once feared promises and oaths, dreams and visions, desire and will. Now I weave a cloak about me, another winter to endure, and I am ever warmed.