While standing on my balcony and watching yet another rainstorm pass over the city, I pulled out the keys out of my pocket and discovered that one of the hearts on it – a Celtic heart key chain that a friend once gifted for my birthday – had cracked.
I thought about this. Of course, if we look for symbolism, we can find it anywhere and everywhere. But finding that specific heart, cracked, on this specific day, well, it basically ensured that I’ll be writing this blog vs. the one I had originally set out to write. That’s twice now this week.
It was 20 years ago, today, that I walked down the aisle. That marriage ended quickly and while there’s no anniversary to acknowledge, today I celebrate, with gratitude, peace of mind and freedom. Two things that were impossible for me to acknowledge in 1994 because I had no idea who I was. Or what I wanted. Or what a healthy relationship looked like. Or how to be a good spouse. Or any of that.
The next 20 years of dating adventures had some highs, some lows and some in betweens. In 2008/2009, everything fell apart. As in everything. And so I kept a little diary that turned into a 4-year book project. And that led me back to Barri and she pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed me to confront my biggest ache, the kind that makes all your physical senses explode with the prickling of 1000 needles.
Slowly, ever so slowly, those layers of hurt, anger, regret, loneliness, pain, numbness, mistrust and hopelessness began to release themselves, one by one. In parallel, going to Dublin for one month this past February and walking the streets of that amazing city, where I have zero physical DNA but couldn’t feel more spiritually at home if I tried, there, the pages of my pain all just flew away, like a loose manuscript in the wind.
Each day I spent in in Dublin, my heart got better and better and better.
By the time it was my last week there, I filled a lot of journal pages and shed a lot of tears. Alison, the woman from whom I rented the room, wisely observed, “I don’t think you’re crying because you’re leaving Dublin. I think you’re crying because Dublin helped you heal from something.” She didn’t know me long, but by that point, she knew me well. And she was right.
If our heart’s a vessel, then mine not only finally stopped leaking, but it no longer carries the dead weight of life’s relationship past.
And so today, of all days, as I saw that broken Celtic heart, I realized that with that physical object releases all that I carried with me for the past two decades. And today, in this present moment, love is all around me. I felt in on my travels and in the homes of the individuals and couples I stayed with. I felt it in the openness of all the good people who welcomed me back to Cleveland as well as the ones who stuck it out with me, throughout the entire roller coaster. Finally, I’m feeling the love by being open to the kind surprises entering my life with unexpected frequency. It’s as though all the summer ice cream trucks all showed up all at once, right in front of me.
I can’t wait to taste the new flavors.