My fingertips are raw and red, nails jagged and bleeding, shorn off by my rabid scrabbling. Come, sit with me here, he gestured, the vista of the savannah behind him.
There are two chairs in the center of this vast landscape, this depression in the wide, long plain above. I walked here earlier with my guide and overlooked the gulf.
This is all yours, my guide had told me months ago. It felt to me as if it were Love; there was no sign or true indication, but the sense that this whole of land below us was mine, was love.
And it was an elephant graveyard.
As she and I stood above, her a sentry, me wary, the sun came out and did something miraculous: it vacuumed all the bones into its depths. The litter on the floor of the canyon rumbled and shook as each piece of deadness was lifted off into the air, into absolution, into white heat. Gone.
When I look again at the earthen floor, it is clean of its detritus, the hulking masses of death and memory and intractable sorrow/horror.
We walk down in, my sentry and I.
And here, this morning, sits my beloved, my boyfriend, the one who just right now sleeps a bit restively in our bed in the other room. In the savannah, he rests on a chair, wooden, light-colored, tall backed, and now, he gestures for me to sit in the next.
I recoil. I panic. I have a hardness in my heart that is now a cage of ravens flinging themselves at the bars. I follow their panic and begin to scrape at the sides of the cliff to get up and out of the ravine. Come, sit with me here, and my skin trembles with fear and my mind is a primal sphere of neural terror.
My boyfriend and I are looking at moving to a bigger (and more expensive) place closer to my work and housing a garage for his motorcycle. It’s perfect in all the ways we need it to be, and I refuse to commit to it, to him, with this panic still a chaos in my heart.
He is generous and sensitive and more understanding than any of us have a right to be about my process toward commitment.
Because here is the rub:
In my meditation this morning, with the scrabbling, squalling lady that is me, I invite some other imagined man into that savannah, seat another man — an idealized, “fuck yeah,” perfect but imperfect man — into that other chair.
And I react the same.
J. has been incredibly patient with me as I attempt to parse out what of my fear and doubt and terror is about our relationship in particular and what would be, for me, the same fear and doubt and terror in any relationship.
But, patience runs thin for us both. My “process” is no quicker because of the impatience, but the demand for an answer is ripe on my mind nearly all the time.
If a “Fuck Yeah” imagined person, a man who has some kind of qualities that I feel are absent in my current love, will arouse in me the same panic as the man who now sits in front of me, then it’s not the man that needs to change. Clearly, it’s me.
And though both J and I have known this, and both realize that my work is to parse out the wheat from the chaff, the hurt from the truth, the terror from the path forward, this work is wearing us both a great deal thin.