I have often felt like I have lived many lives in one, but today I felt like I was looking into a past life.
It has been four years since I moved away from the Pacific Northwest and two since I have set foot on Washington ground. This week, I returned to a place that was home for seven years.
On Wednesday afternoon, Christmas Eve, I stepped off an Alaska Airlines jet, walked along the jetway, and into a familiar airport. I followed the I-5 corridor north with the ocean on its proper side. It had taken several years to adjust to the ocean being on my left as I drove north, and then I returned to the East Coast and had to start the adjustment process all over again. I never quite adjusted to the ocean being on my right, so Washington brought with it a welcome, geographic familiarity.
Yet this familiarity felt somehow foreign.
I recognized sights, smells, flora, and fauna. It was my own self that felt out of place. This was no longer my home.
I checked in regularly with my inner self. How was I feeling? Was I anxious? Sad? Happy?
I felt none of these emotions, just a kind of emptiness in its place. I watched the scenery go by, horizontal rain creating diagonal patterns on the car windows. At times, I felt excitement surge. There were the Trumpeter Swans I remembered, dear friends whom I had not seen in so very long. My favorite co-op in Mt Vernon, and my beloved Skagit River. The Petsmart where I adopted Arwen, Puck, and Izzy.
Excitement soon transformed into a strange disquiet. I was a voyeur, peeking into a past life. It seemed like I was witnessing someone else’s life, but somewhere deep I recognized it as my own. It just did not feel like my own.
There were people and beings I loved in this life, but something inside of me had created a wall against the painful memories. The wall was being covered by ivy that reached out with tentacle-like runners in all directions. I felt a darkness fall when I remembered grey skies, rain, all-day driving, wet clothing sticking to my skin.
In my heart, I know there is much light, but the veil seems to blot out the sun from the sky. The veil is my fear. It is the fear that I might succumb to the same sadness I once felt, sadness like a prison that I could not escape from, much as I tried.
My partner tells me this is my chance to create new memories, to write a new story of place. I know he is right. And I know that I do not feel sad to be here in this place where I once felt so alive and full of joy.
I am the writer of my destiny. And so, I will write.