” At nearly 40, you are finally learning about friendship”

(One of our prompts at the Art for Recovery writing group last week was this: “you wake one morning and you are expecting…” (from “The Crows,” Evelyn Fitzpatrick)

You wake one morning and you are expecting to believe again, to fall into the foreshadowing that the dreams brought into you, or you into. You remember the doves, the way they carried you, and the pelican’s dipping heads, feeding under your feet, and how you walked over the water til you got to the other side of the lake, and to nearly dry land, where you sat back and cried because you were exhausted, desiring, and hadn’t noticed your ability to talk on water while you were doing it, you just needed to get somewhere, and now that you’re there, you know with out trying that the capacity has left your feet.

You poke one toe at the water and it sinks beneath the surface. Minnows startle away like dreams, like longings, like small children—you remember, after waking, the streaks of water down your cheeks and, too, how the surface of the lake undulated with a presence beneath your soles, like no surface you’d ever before encountered    but it felt so normal all the wile you were crossing the lake       what had you needed to get to? Why couldn’t you pay attention?

You think you remember – the way dreams come back unbidden, like childmemory – something having to do with a good friend and a loss, a declaration or a poem you had to deliver       but mostly you just wanted to get to her. She was mourning, and you knew about mourning, how so often it goes and rides through you, us, without words – and how you wanted o sit next to her, and she was, you knew, on the far side of the lake from where you’d begun, and the lake was long, unbearably so, and you’d known, in the dream, it would take too long to go around, something would break in her during the time you were being a good and dutiful; boy or girl citizen and walking barefoot the long way ‘round       and so you rolled up your cuffs just slightly because you didn’t want to be entirely unpresentable when you got to her and you strode out onto the surface of those tidal silty waters. You could have swum, you suppose, but it hadn’t exactly occurred to your dream self to do so       when you get to the other side (not of the lake, but of the dream, after you wake) the day is coolwarm and the dream air around you, back in there, was salty-kelpy, smelled like worms and cormorant feathers and exhaust fumes. When you wake up, you wondered why no one else seemed surprised that you were walking on the water – and that no one joined you. In the dream, you were alone on the other side, you sat down on a rock wall built by laborers fifty years ago to keep the lake’s banks from eroding, and you leaned back onto your hands and you wept with a kind of thick longing. You woke up, still catching the sobs in your sleep-riddled throat, and you brought your waked hands up to your face to feel if it was wet there. It wasn’t, but that didn’t quite convince you you hadn’t been crying –

You knew this dream was something to do with faith and the enormity of friendship, the clotting that friendlove will let you do, how a deep trust in someone who knows you, knows even the things you think you hide, the person with whom you have failed most indelibly and still they hold their arms open to you, the deep trust of settling into letting that love be a part of your life and wanting to return it, makes miracles flow from the tips of your fingers, solidifies even the most liquid thing, makes liquid, too, the rocks and boulders with which you’ve cluttered your heart. All you had meant to do in the dream was get to your friend where you knew she sat alone next to a live oak tree on a greening hillside near the lake and keened for what she had lost, sit your body next to hers and let her keep on howling – just not alone. You wanted to be the hand she could grab onto if she needed one, you wanted to be some ears she could pour story into if she was ready, you wanted only for your body to be there, next to her body, both your fractured human lives embedded into the earth and inextricably into one another’s hearts.

At nearly 40, you are finally learning about friendship, about a kind of love that has not sex at its core but something more substantial, less malleable, something you don’t have words for, something you can’t bribe into or out of place, something you can’t control – and that realization, that without your manipulating it or wheedling it or flirting it, someone loves you in all of your flawed entirety, even still, at your waking time here in your post-good-dream bed, brings you back up to tears, opens you to gratitude, bleeds you toward hope.

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