A love letter to my Texas pals before tomorrow's giddy-up

My relationship with Texas started in the late 90s when I flew to Dallas (from Ohio) for art consulting. I remember a rough flight, the kind where the plane swings broadly side-to-side. With uneasiness stirring, I thought, “Oh, unfriendly air.”

Little did I know.

Strong wind has personality. It was a Texas spring blowing with abandon. Five climate zones converge in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and that’s a mighty fine meet up. Think of it as one heck of a hug.

Today I’d smile while thinking that air thought differently: “Howdy Texas! Looks like we have a rodeo!” 

I had no idea that ten years later I’d be living here.

Or that “unfriendly” would be the last adjective I’d use to describe being here.

When I think of Texas now, I think of beautiful people.

I’ve fallen in love. Deep love.

Which is why I’m here writing tonight, on the eve of driving away on our next adventure (we’re headed to Florida). I’m calling your names. One-by-one. Slowly, I’m letting memories of you come. You’re here.

I’m joyful and sad at the same time. 

I am so happy we met, that we found each other. I even believe I came here to be with you, to heal and grow in your love and wisdom, to ride that buck of a cancer project. (Thank you. I’m stable and feel my healthiest ever. I love being alive. Thank you.)

I wrote last month about not being so good at letting love in. Well, guess what? I’m good at it now. I’m so good at it.

Because I feel all of your love. I’m letting you in.

And right now it’s hurting.

Why of course, I know that you’re forever in my heart, in my cells (thank you Thay for helping me understand this). And that our relationship is not ending, it’s transforming.

But, the grief part. That’s different.

Letting go of the luxury, the pure luxury of sitting in your presence, walking with you, studying with you, tending the garden with you, practicing yoga next to you, reading books with you, tap dancing next to you, sitting in the clinic counting love chemo drips along with you. Well, that kind of sadness in missing you is coming like a wave.

(Time to take a break to blow my nose.)

I told some of you this already. But I need to hear it again myself to embolden my ability to ride this detachment river. It’s about feelings. And being able to stay with them.

Having feelings for me is a lot like that kid’s book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen. When a brave family comes upon a difficult landscape such as a mucky swamp, they exclaim something like this, “Oh! A swamp, are you afraid? I’m not afraid. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. We have to go through it.” And they do: splish, splosh, splash, muck. They don’t stop in the middle, they keep going. It’s the same for feeling any emotion.

Why go through the swamp, high grasses, or raging rivers of my experiences? Because unexpressed feelings show up later, in other events. And I know way too much about that. So I’m feeling this as it arises, and using that energy to write.

I feel myself settling and my tears ending (for now). I better understand the bigger picture of friendship.

I recently reread Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book, Gift From the Sea.  In it she says that a good relationship has a pattern like a dance. The partners do not hold tightly because they move with confidence in the same pattern, moving and nourished by the same rhythm. She references a favorite verse as she describes this dance, one I've memorized:

“He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy,
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.” – William Blake

I know what to do. Kiss the joy, Susan. Let go.

I realize that “there is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing” (Lindbergh, p. 96).

Tomorrow early, I’ll smile and drive into the rising golden sun. Of course, you'll be riding with me.