Please understand I love you so,
But if I am ever to grow,
Then I must be allowed to go,
Beyond the places that I know,
And yes I know that you will fear,
For me when I choose to leave from here,
That it does not mean I do not hold you dear,
For in my heart I keep you near,
And yes I will have to make mistakes,
Along the way of my escape,
But this is how is has to be,
Or I will never know the whole of me,
I may get lost along the way,
But what is lost is for me to say,
Just promise me that you will stay,
To be my home when I return,
And show you all that I have learned,
Even all the scars I’ve earned,
To share with you all of life and its beauty
Because if you love me you will see,
That you had to set me free,
To let me find my way to you,
And know that our love was true.
Please understand I love you so,
The witching hours and what follow always give me the most trouble, make me the most vulnerable. In a settled darkness I can allow my eyes to adjust and know enough to watch for the shadows and how they move but at times like this, when the night has just begun it makes it difficult for me to focus amid the dying light of day. And so I breathe in and do what I can to slow the beat of my heart, with this being the final pass I will make for the night I am nearly completely exhausted and that would make running away nearly impossible, so, as I continue to make the climb up the steep hill with its loose and jagged stones it doesn’t take much of a bend at the waist to slip the scout knife from my pocket and to unsnap the blade in one continuous motion. Maybe tonight will be the night, what I had heard was merely twenty yards south of me now, close, too damned close, but I know better, I know these woods, I know myself, and I know that I would have paid little attention at all if I didn’t know that what I had heard in the shadows so near me sounded large, large enough to break a fallen limb of a tree, and if the sound of it weren’t advancing and not retreating.
I hold her in my arms. I couldn’t help but run straight at her like a damned fool the moment I saw her across the parking lot so I bolted towards her until I had her in my arms. Her thick hair is pushed against my face as we talk and I can’t help but notice that she’s holding onto my arm as we do so. I ask her about starting high school, I ask if the girl standing next to us is one of her new friends, I ask if I’m embarrassing her terribly, and finally I tell her that I will always be only a phone call away.
I chase the sound of his laughter while we play along the trees in the yard. I catch up to him and pick him up and continue to circle the trees. And I feel so much better. I can’t deny that there is not love in my heart, that I do not love each of my many nieces and nephews so. I’m thankful now that no matter how dark things got in my life that I never lost my way with children. They have a certain light about them, a certain way of seeing the world that is pure, that is honest. So, for the next hour or so I continue to play. And before I leave I make sure to visit with my other dear niece, to hold her too in my arms before I leave I tell her that I love her, sometimes it’s best to keep the things that we say as brief and as honest as possible.
When I pick up the phone I hear the last voice I expected to hear, instinctually I can’t help but search the sound of his voice as we talk. This is the first time we’ve spoken since we said our goodbyes before he was taken to jail, but now he calls from prison. Our mother had asked that I write him a letter but I couldn’t, I didn’t know what to say, I was still angry about what happened and how it upended our lives, but I don’t let it show in the way that I speak to him. What I do know, what I am sure of, is that he, my older brother, has a very long road home.
Days have passed; weeks have passed, the leaves have fallen and the snow will soon settle in for the season. And as I walk about this empty house and look out the large windows without curtains I can’t help but think about why it is I am the way that I am. I think about that night in the dark with what may very well have only been a curious deer and why I hadn’t hesitated. It leads me to wonder why it is that I feel such a strong connection to that life and not the one that I never really truly seem to understand. Because I don’t and I never have understood the world around me, and in turn it has never understood me. I understand the life of the wild; I can see the balance of it in everything so why can I not see it in myself? Why do men make for the worst animals?
I take my medication. As of late I have been neglecting to do so. I’ve been sleeping deeper and drinking more. I would say that I feel lost but that is not what this is, maybe I feel more wounded and fatigued mentally but that would also not account to the unfamiliarity I have with how I feel.
And as the winter continues its approach soon there will come with it the hibernation, people will bundle up themselves in their homes not entirely unlike animals. But I enjoy the winter, I like that it creates a more noticeable distance between souls, I am a solitary creature by most accounts. I know what is to come, I know that the winter will also bring with it the chance for me to fall into depression and lethargy of both mind and spirit, and yet – I never could walk away from a challenge.
When I watch the sun begin to rise I know it’s time to go home. I feel a steady drunk in my veins, but thankfully that’s all it is, no aggression, no quiet need to do something rash, no remorse for being weak and giving in and the self-pity that follows. I just watch the sun rise and can feel the bleary redness in my eyes. But I worry, I do worry, and I fear for someone close to me, and all I know right now is that she’s at some farmhouse which she’s never been to before with some family that isn’t her own and she’s probably afraid and confused, and I think about this, I let it sink in deep into my thoughts, the memories of what it meant to be in the system at such a young age and everything that followed, foster homes and halfway houses, and for just a few moments between swaying in the breeze I feel a little sadder about everything.
In the dry heat it makes it hard to maintain any train of thought for longer than a few paces, and I like it. I push on and make every effort to move faster. All along the hike so far I’ve noticed that the animals have found their way back to the area and most of them have returned with young. There is a mother deer and a newborn, a fox with a pup and lastly, there is a mother bear nearby and she has a cub who I have to assume is no more than but a few weeks old. Life has found its way back to these woods it would seem, and although it might not mean a damned thing to anyone else, it matters to me. However, I will have to not forget about the mother and the cub; it would be not at all in my favor if I were to stumble upon them. But any signs that I’ve tracked of them thus far would have me believe that they have made their way further inward but I do have a strong suspicion as to where it is they have gone. I might even know where to find them come the end of the fall. These next few months will be interesting as to how life in this ecosystem will play out.
When I awake in the morning I look at the date on the calendar which notes the appointment my family has with my older brother’s parole officer. I’m still very much not in the loop as to how the proceedings of his incarceration will come to pass but that is entirely of my own design. As much as I love my older brother, after all he is still my closest and oldest friend, I can’t shake this sense of disappointment that I feel over the matter, it still bothers me that I hadn’t seen what it was that he was hiding and that he didn’t think to ask me for help when help would’ve made a difference. I haven’t gone to visit him nor have I taken any phone calls from him. I’m still bitter that his stupidity has upended my world and caused such strife among the rest of our immediate family in ways that will reverberate on further and result in things that trouble me when I think about what it could mean, where this could go, the possibility that this cycle will never be broken and for me, that’s all I ever wanted from this life, all I ever wanted was a peaceful life.
I sit outside under the early evening sun and contemplate the goings on of my family and their own families as of late. It’s in my nature to be nurturing so these past few months have been increasingly stressful and it’s starting to show up in the wear and tear I feel in my body and of my mind, or maybe that’s just time finally catching up with me. That seems to have been a theme in my life as of late, age, time, and I do feel worn, I do feel old but not always, mostly I just feel tired and weary. Of course I haven’t been helping things with my night’s spent drunk and stupid, if anything I need to get a handle on my addiction before it handles me again and I end up right where I was when I started this diary. However, my attention is focused most on the state of mental health of my mother, and my heart is still aching from the trauma my niece is undoubtedly experiencing with all of this, not to mention that she has chosen to live with her own mother, and it’s her own mother’s erratic behavior that has me so concerned. I know why she, my niece, chose to do what she’s doing, she’s trying to parent her mother and to keep her own little family together but I know how this will play out because I’ve been in her shoes, and it haunts me how much she and I are alike. And as the sun again starts to set I know that sooner or later I will have to have a talk with my older brother, her father, and I aim to have a letter in my possession after I do so, but not for me.
The sheer idiocy of what I just learned is only dwarfed by my flair of aggression. If this were another time I would’ve handled the situation with swift violence but that’s not who I am anymore. I’ve learned to control my temper, my father’s temper, my thick blood from getting me into trouble for the past few years now and it would be an error to let it go now. I’m still not certain that there is not in fact a warrant out for my arrest. But in light of recent events I should think that it’s my ability to maintain civility that is being tested as of late. And I don’t mean the incident which just now occurred. I keep finding myself in moments where that familiar pull is present. That little tug that says hurt and be hurt, that grip that flushes the knuckles white and makes the heart beat not faster but simply, harder, and I sometimes forget how comfortable I am with all of that, and how there might always be a part of me that likes it. But, I’m not that person anymore. And those thoughts serve me no purpose. But still, if there is a certain person out there who’s looking for trouble, well, maybe I’ll help him find it.
Last night went out walking amid the heart of a thunderstorm that was raging so hard that it shook the very ground that I walked upon and it was achingly beautifully, wonderfully bittersweet. There’s something about storms that makes the world seem a little smaller, a little more contained, and a little less confounding. Brilliant streaks of violet painted the sky. The wind was howling and the rain itself fell hard and purposefully. There are two types of people in this world, those who take shelter from the rain and those who find themselves under it.
Frank licks at my face while I bend down to inspect the damage. I run my hands over the hard plastic along the seat. I hadn’t expected this, how could I, who would ever plan for a dog to chew the seat off a bicycle? It’s late in the afternoon and I aim to be somewhere far away from here but that’s going to be difficult considering someone has been chewing on my bike. But thankfully in times like this it really doesn’t matter much what goes wrong and without forethought I’m already on my way to fetch some tape that I have in my bedroom and maybe a few dish cloths so I can fashion myself something a little more comfortable to sit on.
In the heat I can feel my temperature rise steadily. I maneuver carefully around the little wetland toward the shallows of the marsh in the woods. I had thought I had heard the sounds of white tail deer somewhere in the distance but the odds of me catching them are fairly slim. Not that it matters, I just wanted to be out in the wild for the day. It’s comforting to me to be out here. Somehow it always makes me feel as though I belong somewhere. I sling my pack from off my shoulder and check to see if the new hole that I freshly stitched hasn’t come undone. With the way that I carry myself it’s not uncommon to gain new tears in my clothing or my pack or my flesh. A lot of my clothing is worn and has been weathered by the elements. I should also note that the very comfortable shoes on my feet don’t belong to me, I don’t know why but I took a pair of running shoes from the empty bedroom of my older brother, and while they might be a little tighter than I would like, they just make me feel better today, to be wearing something of his, foolish, I know, but still.
I take a seat on the frame of the bridge and I just breathe. I stare out as the sun shimmers over the water of the river below. This river, it leads all the way into the old part of the reservation and into the lake beyond. There are many lakes around these parts but there is one lake bigger than the rest, I would imagine it would take a life time to know the entirety of it. Lately I’ve been more interested in the water. Just a few days ago I had finally brought myself to go for a swim during a particularly humid day. I sat in the water and I meditated after I had expended a good amount of restless energy. I like that; I like to sit and to hear the beauty of the completeness of life itself around me, within me. A vehicle passes by and the driver and I exchange a nod as I turn back to the river below and the setting sun. For a moment my calm receded and I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to look for trouble with the driver of the vehicle, now this might seem odd but the driver and I know one another, maybe even have always had a quiet respect but the past weekend he put his hands on my oldest brother and if there’s anything that makes me less than peaceful it’s when my family is involved.
At home I watch the clouds continue to blanket the sky from the open door. I could smell the rain earlier. I doubt it will rain much but when it comes I bet it will come down pretty hard. It might even storm, good, it seems fitting that it would storm so close to the anniversary of Danielle’s passing. In fact I hope it rains every year at this time.
I walk in the rain. I don’t care who sees me. I don’t care if I get wet.
I watch the sun start to rise over the waters of the lake. I sit on a rock at the mouth of the bay and I can taste the remnants of whiskey in my mouth. I had forgotten my cigarettes and maybe I’m only out looking for trouble, looking for a fight, but all I found was peace. All I found was the sound of the morning birds and a gentle wind. I run my hand through the water and open and close my fingers. I listen to the hum of the tide pushing in and washing out. I have so much going on in my thoughts at the moment but all I do is empty them, I just want to be here, I just want to be.