In my dream, I’m running. In my dream, I like to run. In my dream, my chest doesn’t burn and my legs don’t ache. I can take deep full breaths and long strides. My feet are sure as they land, and quick, too. It must be late fall, because the forest floor is thick with leaves and the trees are bare. I’m running in a dry creekbed, up a gradual slope, over stones that may as well have been feathers since I never stumble over even one of them.
I seem to make the effort for its own sake, for the feel of the ground passing beneath me, solid. For the feel of the air, cool on my skin. In the dream, I’m not running from something or toward anything. There’s nothing chasing me, and I’m not chasing anything. And that’s the feeling I’d like to carry in my hands, like a small bird, when I pass from sleep to consciousness.
I want to hold on to that assurance that the past isn’t some shape-shifting apparition behind me, and that that I’m not exhausting myself just to go after something I will never find. Answers or a mea culpa, or relationships that feel like an endless basket of clothes that need mending.
My father finally called a couple of nights ago, and I can’t say we really got very far. The conversation had a big moment or two, though.
Like his revelation that he forced my mother to leave, that one day he told her to decide what she wanted to take with her because she wasn’t going to be living there anymore.
He had his reasons. Maybe good ones, even, though I don’t feel the need to be specific here.* But his admission counters what I have always believed – what I was led to believe – which was that she left on her own. I always thought that she decided that she couldn’t be part of our family or be married to my father anymore and just left.
After she moved out, there wasn’t much either one of them did right, so I’m not granting a pardon here. (She left the state not long after she moved out. He married my stepmother.) But it still changes a fundamental belief I always had about what happened. To me, there’s a difference between her deciding one day to leave, or being forced to go.
He admitted that she wouldn’t have left on her own, at least not then. Who’s to say what might have happened later on. I’m keeping my sympathy for her in check, because no one did the right thing at any point, not the way I see it. But I do feel like I can ease up on this one, this one thing I’ve judged so harshly. I’m not sure why she never told me this part of the story. If she did, and I forgot it, I honestly feel bad about that.
Because there’s a difference between “I’ve had it. I’m leaving” and “I’ve had it. You’re leaving.”
There just is.
Thinking about it, in the light of day, I want to go back a few hours to when I was asleep and dreaming. When I was running. When I was moving forward, not back. When I wasn’t tripping over stones in my way, over a lie or the truth. When the ground beneath me felt solid and sure.
*(You can make your own guesses. For all my bravado earlier this week and my claim that I wouldn’t change what I write here just because I know that my father or mother might read it, I’m finding that’s not as easy as I made it sound.)
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