I remember a morning, just a few days prior, on the road early, driving. I love to drive. I love the solitude. Nothing is more perfect than an early morning drive alone. Nothing, except, a quiet morning drive in the rain.
I was driving, then it started raining.
Softly. Like the sweeping of a brush. Not the attack of a storm, but a gentle embrace. A quiet murmur to keep me company on my silent journey. It’s beautiful, but only because it’s temporary. If every waking moment were trapped in this grayness, it would drive me mad. But, just for a bit, it’s perfect. A gift. Nothing could be better.
Not all change is painless. I get that. I was speaking with a friend and she was telling me about her divorce. “I refuse to call it a failed marriage,” she said. “Yes, it’s over, but it wasn’t a failure. We had 18 years together and a lot of fun. We made this beautiful boy. It ended, but it didn’t fail.”
It’s a beautiful perspective—one that reminds me to pay heed to all of these daily things before they fade—balanced knowing that some things are allowed to drift away.
I’ve had words bubbling in my brain and permitted them to escape to the page. I know these words won’t get shared. They won’t get posted for my friends to read. The email will never be sent. This group of thoughts will not make its way into these collected stories.
But I did get to enjoy thinking them. Writing them. Reading them to myself.
Maybe I’ll even admire them and think, “That is possibly the greatest sentence I’ve ever written.”
Then I’ll delete them.
And maybe I’ll panic, thinking, “Wait—why did I do that? Bring them back!” I’ll tell myself I should rewrite them before I forget exactly how they were arranged. But instead, I just let them go and I enjoy them even more for having been, but are now lost and out of reach.
This is really what I’m learning. Things don’t need to have eternal substance for them to matter. And even everyday, common things can matter.
Things like rocks from the riverbed. My grandmother called them “lucky stones.” Eroded over time into rounded objects. Perfect for skipping across the water, or for carrying along with you as an amulet.
It was the first good luck charm introduced to me that was in abundance. They were everywhere. If you needed one, you could get one. Easily. All others received their power from being rare. These, merely by persisting. By refusing to go away. And this persistence showed. The hard edges of their former lives couldn’t withstand their own determination. Smoothed away. Soft to touch. Comfortable in my pocket. Probably not bringing me luck, but maybe buying me a little confidence. Maybe that’s better than luck.
Even stone. It’s not really permanent.
Ink is, though. Well, should be. It’s right there in the name. “Permanent ink.” Don’t look at me—I didn’t name it.
I stare at our tattoos as we lie together, me and her. Blacks, now less black. The edges a little softer. These were marks designed to be forever, but they’re slowly changing into something else. Hers, graphic dedications to the men she loves. Me, covered in skulls and flowers. The illustrated blossoms remind me of her.
All summer long she’ll cut wildflowers from her yard and put them into vases throughout our home. They’re beautiful, but so fleeting—lasting only a few days. So, when I see new ones, it’s notable. This is a pretty thing that will soon disappear. Enjoy it until it goes.
When it’s the end of winter, such as it is now, I can think of how this season, too, will soon pass away and the promise of those blooms lays just ahead. She’s reliably predictable.
She reads every story I write. She said, “You know, someone reading these would think that you’re a really nostalgic person. But you’re not at all like that.”
It’s true, I’m not. I don’t spend much time thinking about the past because it doesn’t matter. If it’s not now, then who cares? It’s gone and I automatically discount those things that have refused to endure.
And that’s, perhaps, the biggest part of what I’m learning. That it does matter. That those stories are stones that I walked upon to get here. And how I got here is kind of important. My entire perspective is grounded in those experiences. Anything I have to offer, it comes from where I came.
But even more important is the present. What I plan to let in and what I plan to enjoy. Not everything has to be immortal, forever lasting. Some things I can just hold in my hand, savor for a moment and then tuck the memory away.
That part I get to keep forever.