by Rebecca Gaffron
If I wait in the rain and you don’t show, does it mean something? And would the meaning change if the evening weren’t so wet. Or cold. Or green. My wilderness is green. But I have always longed for rugged, stony greys. It’s human nature to covet that which we are not. To crave poison in the form of delightful dissimilarity. And so I’ve been drawn up steep granite slopes. I’ve felt the wind lift my feet from razor backed fells where I believed I’d found myself, even as golden curls whipped my eyes, casting them downward, back to the patchwork of verdant emerald and olive and jade. Back to geographies more akin to my own. Or yours.
If I wait and you don’t show, is it because you’ve chosen to be a lone wolf? That is an anomaly. Wolves are pack animals. But you are not. Not a pack animal. Not a lone-wolf. This is clear, at least to me. You speak of wilderness. Of pines that spire like church steeples into starlit skies. Of rivers rushing, coursing, bursting in abandon before turning still and soft. Of quiet unspoiled by human chaos. You seek these out in small doses. Not allowing yourself to stay over-long. Avoiding too much stillness, afraid it might keep you. Or deliver the message you’ve been seeking. Something about finally allowing the wound to heal. Something about strengths found in vulnerability.
And if I wait by not waiting, will it change things? If I escape the lonely rain and cloudy shadows by settling into the warm glow of some social wilderness, surrounded by cheerful noise, might I find clarity? Or faith. Enough that when the phone vibrates in my pocket, I will know without hearing that it’s you. You, whispering the delicious promise of intentions-kept in my ear before appearing at my side. Then we will examine our philosophies. We will seek hidden meaning in IPAs and old Bluegrass songs. You will decry false rhetoric, calling out for more joy. More romance. More beer. While I argue the metaphysical merits of jokes unfit for mixed company.
If I wait and find you walking me out, away from the safely of the purely theoretical, will your wilderness envelope mine? There, in the wet and cold, where our greens still pulse under oily black darkness, will I convince myself that us is not something I’ve longed for? Will I see my hopes and fears reflected in your eyes? What if the pull is too great? What if we fall and in the descent lose ourselves, like pebbles dropped in a bottomless cave, plunging on and on forever, into nothing?