A bone fractured, snapped, cracked will heal and the place where it heals, will be forever stronger than the bone around it. Breaking and healing, it seems, they want to make sure you know, makes a bone, you, stronger than if it, you, had never been broken at all.
The breaking part? I and life took care of that, the longer you live, the harder you love, the more you do and try, the more you break, if you dig deeper, love harder, go farther, swing harder, you don’t bend, you break, so the breaking bits, done.
But even though we just met, you stepped up and into me and helped with the healing, even if you didn’t know that’s what you were doing at the time.
You see, I am far from home, alone, and walking the shores of the Mekong, drinking coffee in the hotel restaurant, watching, listening, alone, the broken bits of me are coming up, surfacing, rising up from within and when we meet, I see the life in you. The laughter, the smile, and I take that from you and place it over a broken part of me. And I heal, and that part of me, covered by a part of you, is stronger than the parts of me that have not been broken.
I feel like one of the strays you see in the streets here, wandering as if rabid, hunting, looking then running to the carcass by the side of the road, I take what I need, famished, and leave the rest for you or for the next person on a journey you run into – and each of you has something different I need for the next step on my journey so from each of you, I take something new.
Perhaps I should ask but imagine that, we’ve just met and what would I say?
Oh E, I need your wit and English sense of humor with me, you don’t mind do you darling? Oh S, can I have some of yours as well? It will help me get through the bus rides and the trains and the moments in the airport terminals alone.
No, you would walk away, shun me and rightfully so, so I just take. It’s what one has to do to keep going, has to do, being alone.
Not alone in a simple, ring me up, and oh, I am home alone kind of way. No, alone, as in the ones I love sleep when I am awake, I sleep while they go on about their days, our paths only coinciding for a few hours, my morning, their night, my night, their morning. It would take me days of travel to see my son, hug my daughter, days.
So alone, my thoughts, the past, history, my life, my mistakes, my triumphs, they are my constant companions and in the silence, they scream to me and break me.
After a few weeks on the journey, I am getting more used to them, they are slowly but surely loosing their power over me, which makes them scream louder, so I walk farther and the cycle will continue until they can scream no more or I hear no more, that’s how this journey ends.
But for now, when I am alone with them, too alone, too close to them, they rise up in the quiet, the embers reignite, hot, hotter still when so close, my father, my mother, my grandparents, lovers, partners, friends, especially those like Spence or Wass that are gone already.
Is that possible? Spencer dead twenty-five years? We were just hitting golf balls behind Brooks House, we were just in Boston, we were just, no, not just I suppose, twenty, thirty years ago now, we were. Not just.
See what I mean? S and E? Those are fractures within me, and I am healing them, or well, you are healing them. Hopping in a tuk tuk with you, laughing past the market, making jokes about the monks, you help me, I pull the connection in, I take the laughter and the life from you, place it over an old wound, or a new one, and then, I can go on.
Lunch over the river, trading pictures of our kids, floating in the pool, small steps on the journey, but steps I have taken with you, so now you, too, you share the journey.
I am the traveler, the prophet of the road, guru of buses and planes, I don’t have a ticket home, only to the next town, country, state, you were just on a girls weekend, or so you thought, and I pull you onto my journey and you’ll go back to Hong Kong and your baby and your school. But a small piece of you, it goes with me. It’s here with me now, comfortably enjoying the day in Laos.
By the end of the journey, there will be a large, wide, dusty road, I am walking ahead and behind me, a cloud of dust rises, spreads wide, and up, you are all there with me, dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds by then, walking, helping, following, supporting, loving me, as I walk ahead.
Those pieces I take to heal, I guard jealously, I graft them onto myself, they are not to be shared, they are mine, mine alone and the more I have the better I am the stronger I am, the farther I can go, the more I can find out along the way.
Your pieces, I pile them onto the ones I brought from home, from old friends and new, past partners and future lovers, from people you don’t know, but who have also healed me, and helped me on my way.
I do this because as much as I would love one more float in the pool, one more laugh at breakfast, as much as I cherish that, this is my journey to take alone, so I pack the bags, check out, head to the airport, leave.
But I have you now with me. I have those pieces of you I needed. And I thank you.
If I didn’t have them, or if you insisted in having them back, I don’t know how much farther I could go, I’d be worn out, stopped, blocked, too alone, the memories would rise too high above me, I’d try and climb up, there’d be nothing to hold, I’d fall deeper and deeper into the hole, my father’s voice would become louder and louder.
I’d remember too clearly how she felt, what my mother said, the cord of my son I cut, it would be too clear too real, until the light within me would go out, over-processing, overloaded, the past would win, circuit broken, the story ends with the traveling prophet returning home, broken, alone.
So I take, and take and take, I need it, you that part of you I now have, I need to survive don’t you see? I need those drops of water, the bit of food, the sustaining part of you.
You are with me, right left right, left right which way again?
We will each get to where we are going, and you will be with me. I took a bit of humor, some of the charm, the sense of life, it filled me back up, sent me down the road, stronger, the part you fixed better than the parts you didn’t touch.
So thank you.
Thank you for letting me reach inside and take of you what I need.
I offer myself in return.