There is a side of me that, although she still exists, has been tucked away for some time now.
I feel her as I turn my face to the sky, sunlight filtering through the pines, and imagine the tread of a Rocky Mountain trail beneath my feet.
I feel her on a beautiful Friday afternoon itching for a backyard barbecue or time wasted on a restaurant patio with friends.
I feel her anytime I breathe deeply and exhale the shackles of weariness and discontentment.
I feel her when something sparks a memory of the disbanded tribe that was once the anchor in my life.
I miss them–my people, my tribe.
I miss you and the me I was when I was with you.
Not the childless one, not the one the bar owner bought drinks for, not the one who’d ask the band members to dance.
Not even the one on a mountainside with a man and a Rottweiler-mix or the one who told herself everyday that lifestyle weighed far more than financial wellbeing.
No, I miss the one who fit in. . . just perfectly.
My tribe knows I’m not particularly religious. My tribe should also know that if heaven does exist it looks like a 100-year-old wood floor painted a deep shade of red, the stickiness of margaritas and PBR dotting its expanse, the clicking of the claws of a dozen dog paws, the safeguarded steps of wobbly young legs, and the vibrations of Old Crow Medicine Show or Trampled by Turtles or Michael Franti and Spearhead traveling up the soles of Chaco-clad feet.
A 100-year-old wood floor painted a deep shade of red but coated with an unseen, immeasurable, and impenetrable lacquer of rightness.
At times I miss you, my tribe, and the life we had together more than I miss my dad. Maybe because he hadn’t been part of my daily life in such a long time. Or maybe because you were who I called to say, “One of us–either me or this baby–is going off the Orange Street bridge,” and almost before I’d hung up the phone you were on my doorstep with chocolate and a spare hour.
For a father I’ll never see again and for a life I’ll never lead again, the grief is saddeningly similar.
As a friend wrote to me, “There’s never enough time with the people you love.” Alive, dead, and the me I was, included.