Five years down the road

I had a dream the other night.

I was sitting across from a friend of mine, sharing a booth in a restaurant or pub. He was telling me the good news that he was having a baby. He already has two girls, and was pretty excited that he would now have a boy to join the family. A small compatriot, a man to follow in his footsteps, a smaller version of himself.

He went on to tell me that his wife, who was out of town, somehow didn't know the gender yet. It was slightly strange, him telling me. Not only was I to know before his wife, but the sense of the scene was that I was the first one he was telling. This friend and I don't see each other all that often, and seem to walk this line of tenuous and deeper connection. Why had I been picked above all the rest?

This thought was dancing around in the back of my head, along with another. See, this friend had recently undergone surgery to prevent this sort of thing from happening. He had been "fixed" as it were. But there he was, ready to have another child, and somehow it made perfect sense. The questions quieted, and I was just there, sharing in his moment.

Then I felt her tuck into me.

Her head rested in that safe spot between my arm and my chest. Without a word, I felt the sadness and regret press into me. It wasn't her head that I felt, but her heart. Why had we missed our opportunity. Why had we denied ourselves. Why had we not brought this joy into the world. Why had we let it all slip away.

My friends words faded as the world became just the two of us. No words were spoken. It seemed none were necessary. There was one small nuzzle, and then we faded away as well.

I woke still feeling that weight on my chest.

It has been about five years now since it became clear our marriage was over. All that was left was for her to finally say it. That would be a couple more months, and even then the papers making it official would take another year.

I have been at various times happy, sad, connected and alone. I spent almost three years in the soul-warming sun of San Diego, a place I could stand in the ocean and let the timeless tide wash away a sliver of life. I discovered a better version of me, and sometime later, I even found love, But it turned out it wasn't enough.

Life now is very different in some ways, strangely the same in others. You can never go home again, but I feel myself circling the block of a familiar neighborhood these days. I feel that better version of me slipping away, and most nights I can't find the heart to care.

But this is not how the story ends. I can't see the how all the threads are going to tie together, so I suppose I just have to write my way into the third act. All I know is that the ending will surprise me most of all.


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