This week there were grass fires and temps in the 60s, strange weather for a February in Minnesota. Then came the rain, a steady stream on roofs and roads. My son, who believes fog is filled with ghosts, liked looking out the window to where the fine gray mist hovered over ponds and threaded its way through trees. To him, perhaps, it seemed a peaceful kind of second fire meant to make way for new growth rather than ruin.
One morning I drive through fog so thick I can barely see the white lines edging the road or the signs in the distance. It is the kind of fog that headlights don’t help and I almost think I would be better off driving in the dark, illuminated only by leftover moonlight. I watch the way it rises from the ground so slowly, and I wonder which of my ghosts are out there in that illusory smoke, what will haunt me today as I drive in to work, as I put on that face I wear for others, as I smile and laugh and get things done.
How do you stop loving someone there can be no future with? How do you stop loving anyone, anywhere?
Not through time, it seems. Not through distance, though I felt that spread out before me like the miles my tires turned each time I drove the highway. Not through throwing yourself into work, not even art. I did all the things one is supposed to do. I went to the places. I talked to the people. I saw the movies, listened to the concerts, and watched the theater shows; I shopped the bookstores and bought the groceries and went to the gas station and did all of the million other things life is full of. I prayed. I danced. I sang songs in my kitchen.
And then too, there were all those months I spent learning other people only to realize that no one was learning me. How they wanted to slip in and out of my life as easily as that fog when what I needed was the sun, a kind of constancy of presence. How they made my heart hurt.
After all, I already know how to be left. I watch that fog filled with my ghosts fade amongst the trees and I remember this. I watch the fog slip away from the road until I can see the lines again and I remember this. I watch the fog swirl in the sky until it is indistinguishable from clouds and I remember this. I can’t do anything but remember this. What I needed was someone who’d stay.