It's the number of the month she was born, and the number of places she's lived. It's the number of diseases she has, and the number of times she's dodged death. It's the number of deep down desires she still nurtures, and the number of times her heart's been deep down broken. And today, it's the number of years she's spent learning how to live without her father.
She forgets sometimes that things have changed, and that practicality is an imperative. Seven years ago, she had sold off many of her possessions, made good on all her debts, planned a move. Deep South. Home. A few acres near her family, room for a pair of small houses (because she knew her parents would have probably followed her eventually), a horse like the one her cousin used to let her pretend was hers over long hot summers. Simple life, hard work, socking money away so she could travel to every corner of the earth. Now, she thinks it's funny how easily dreams die when the people you never knew were a part of them die first.
She still wakes most mornings with images of days spent in strange new places, air saturated with words in foreign languages, breathing so deep she can taste history on her tongue. It's not even the slow, steady arrival of pain, the dawning realization of her disability, that clears that fog; at times, she feels as though her mother's smile is all that tethers her to this place. When nothing much matters, her mother's smile matters the most.
It makes her own lips heavier to move.
Because, she sometimes lives in a world where feelings don't hurt. Hearts don't break. No one ever loses anything, because no one belongs to anyone. It makes her so very tired, vacillating between that chasm of impenetrability and feeling so much she's near to drowning. He was always her grounding wire, her lightning rod. Things moved through her, and they didn't stick. She was less singed.
He made things make sense, and made her feel all right about herself when they didn't. He gave her space, but hooked her tight to reel her in when she came undone. She realizes now that he gave her too much space, seas of water and stars, but what else could she really expect? They were the same. She thinks he was the only person who ever really understood her. The air is so much harder to breathe away these days.
Seven is the number of years he's been gone.
She's still not sure if anything works right without him.
November 18th, 2011