As I was preparing to leave, the dog and I walked down the hill to the road. The creek runs under a bridge, the one where I caught two bullhead last summer. Along the road were deer tracks, large and small, and giant dinosaur like turkey tracks. I rounded a corner and between the trees was the most beautiful blue of a mountain I have ever seen. A color unlike any I have ever painted, or dreamed of. My breath is caught as I take in this royal color.
I walk on lost in my thoughts. Stuck on this notion that here in the country, this is civilization, this is sanity, this is normalcy. But on the long hill down back to the city, I am stuck with this notion that it is not something I would want to do alone. There is too much work in running a home, particularly up here where there is wood to be chopped and the same work to be done. I am annoyed with this man when I walk in the door, he never seems to say the right thing, he never seems to be quite what I want. And yet. And yet. I look out the window and see him cutting up a dead tree at the top of his land. I put on my boots and a warm coat and walk up to him. Do you want some help? Do you want to help? If you stay here and work alongside me, yes. Ok, you can help. We work until it is too dark, burning the junk mail in a barrel, and having a beer in the crisp dark evening.
I think on this, all week. This problem that I have. The one that doesn’t allow me to love all the way. This one that seeks to condemn and destroy when all I want is to loved, and cared for. More than once in this week he asks to go up the hill to our tree, to finish its decorating. More than once I say no, I don’t want to. And I don’t. Why can’t you drive? It’s too dark. It’s too cold.
On Friday, we are talking as we walk up the long hill. What makes a person want to take a gun and shoot a bunch of little kids? Do you just wake up one morning, look at a gun and say ah ha? And is it guns? No it is mental illness, it is the increasing violence in our media and culture, it is the numbing of people to violence through the increasing graphic quality of video games, it is a split from the heart, a split from love, a split from connection, it is all of this, it is none of this. On the hill he says something, one of his stupid jokes, that I become so angry at, I stand turned away from him, from the top of the hill, I turn to call my dog, who has abandoned me and I am forced to finish the long hard push up the hill, in the dusk a giant doe and I catch site of each other and I stop and she stops and then runs. I go to the tree, and he hugs me, I am sorry. I am sick of it, I say, I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want you to say things like that to me. I know he says. I know. I am sorry, and I hear you. Although what he said was maybe more than a little bit true. He reaches in and takes out the bag of decorations, which is the wrong bag, and it is the one full of art supplies. I start to laugh, I am an idiot, I say. He just puts his arms around me and kisses my cheek.
In the morning in the market, I pass a small, elderly Nepali man. I look into his eyes and I smile and his eyes sparkle, and he smiles and between us our grins get bigger. As we exit the door, I am laughing. What he says. That man, I say, the light inside of him was just shining out of his eyes, his soul was full of light and I saw the great sparkle in his eyes and we both grinned so big.
You are an idiot he says.
I know I say, but can you imagine, if we were all like that no one would want to kill little children.
Fucking Aye right, he says. Fucking Aye right.
We walk up the hill to the tree again. The day is cold but bright and clear. He goes on a bushwhack, and I dressed in a wool skirt and long underwear remain on trail. The dog cries for him. And we call back and forth on our phones until we reunite. I have dropped my mittens on the trail and we back track to find them.
Today, as I washed the dishes, I decided to wash the stein where we keep the cooking utensils. I finally looked at it. It has a woman on one side and a man on the other, she clutches a book, he a rifle. In the middle the two are together clearly in love. I turn it over in the washing and the rinsing, and I see his initials and a date on the bottom.
Huh. You mean Mr. Prickly Pear Cactus is a romantic?
I suddenly see him differently.
But I guess I knew this all along. If I hadn’t known it, I would have let him go.
But for me. I have a wall to breach.
It is my own.
Don’t we all build walls to protect us from hurt?