I don't regret being married. I don't regret marrying the man I married. I don't regret knowing him, or loving him, or having a baby with him. I don't regret our life together even after our divorce. I'm grateful to know him now and then.
During the end of our marriage, which in hindsight seems too close to the beginning, I took walks. I walked at night, in the morning, usually twice a day, sometimes at lunchtime too. I needed the air, the light, the dark cover of night, the movement. I needed the space where I could think my own thoughts. And walk.
Sometimes, closer to the end, I would walk just far enough away that I was out of our regular neighborhood, out of the regular flow of our daily routes to and from our home, to this little park. No playground or picnic tables, just a green space and a rock.
I would go to the rock and sit. I would smoke. And I would sit. [I regret smoking, if I have to name a regret, but I digress.] I named the rock, Lovers' Rock. I wrote stories about it in my head -- about the teenaged lovers who would sneak from their houses to meet late at night, to kiss and hold hands, and talk of all the things they had yet to be. Stealing every second away from sleep, from the safety of their homes, their beds, their families, to be in the presence of romantic love, to become the lovers they saw on TV, away from the eyes of the watchers. She would show up early and hide slightly in the shadow the tree cover. He would walk fast and look for her shining eyes among the branches. They would embrace. So close. Inhaling each other.
The other story I told was the dark version of that. The old, beaten, dilapidated version. The story of two older lovers, who've left their families at home. Who, also, meet under the cover of night. Both hiding in the shadows. Quick and dirty and rougher than our young lovers. More to the point. They embrace too, but it's not to inhale, it's to exhale. The only place they feel like themselves anymore, raw, free, alive, when they are finally able to steal away from spouses, from work, and the kids. They can only meet in the car, at Lovers' Rock, an occasional quickie in the garage (it would be too weird to come inside, wouldn't it?) when everyone's at soccer practice.
A writer sits on a rock.
A writer whose marriage is troubled sits on a rock and smokes.
A troubled writer smokes while sitting on a rock and imagines generations of doomed lovers.
Today, I walked to that rock. Not on purpose at first. A regular morning walk before I sat down to work and work and work.
As I approached a family of deer were walking through the park. I approached slowly with an open heart. I sat on the rock. The doe and four fawns watched me approach the rock, watched me sit, watched me sit and smile. Then two fawns approached me very slowly, with the doe following close by. I reached out my hand and the fawns sniffed. They stepped closer. I pet both of them. Just a quick pat on the fur. A love pat. We were all satisfied and the doe led her babies away.
I sat on the rock. A little in awe. A little wishing someone captured a video of me being freaking Snow White (COME ON!) And also somehow, not at all surprised. It felt right. Man, Lovers' Rock really changed for me. I pet deer here. I just do that now.
I used to wish that I was inside the story of the lovers -- either story -- that I was able to live outside of my life, to invent another story and step into it. Could it be me walking to meet my lover? Could I live in a moment stolen from the rest of my life, to kiss and talk and fuck so hard and out of breath? I will do anything for you.
I am the lover I meet in the night. I am the one that I race to. I inhale me. I love myself. I steal moments (like this one) to be here now with myself, to dive in, to leave it all behind for a time and have this. Just me. I realized that I was always meeting myself at Lovers' Rock. I was the one that I wanted all along. I would walk to meet me, right where I sat smoking, imagining stories. I am the one.
And now, friends, I am one with the deer family of Lovers' Rock. No more smoking though. It's horrible.