Upon listening.

And there I was. Walking again. Walking the streets of this city once again with a woman who seemed to know me, or who at least knew me enough to lead me in some direction that I may not have found myself.

I made the pot of tea. We talked for hours about our dreams. The ones that we had not spoken nearly enough. The ones that were dangling on the edges of our minds but which we didn’t grasp. We never let them fall, either. They had come to hang there, in the ether.

There was something about this place that makes it feel like a transitional space between a here and a there. A sort of stopover, a moment in limbo. Where snow only exists in the mountains and the cold comes in buckets of wetness in the city, if it ever comes at all. Where the air can get so dry it feels wrong not to want to crack out of our skins.

Mel had been in this city for ten years. Since she was very young, and she was still very young. She thought she was supposed to be here, but she had the feeling that she had to go elsewhere at the same time. But there was so much tying her here. There was so much that she still had left to see through here. She couldn’t leave. She couldn’t abandon all that she had spent so much time building.

“Or could you?”

“What?”

“Maybe you could leave. Maybe what you’ve been saying to me all this time is something you really have been saying to yourself. Maybe you’re the one who needs to go.”

“That’s–” Mel sighed. The long sigh of resignation. “That’s probably true. It would make me happy to see you go because I don’t know how I would go about going by myself. I have so much here. It doesn’t make sense to leave it.”

“What makes sense about staying?”

“What? What are you talking about? Isn’t it obvious?”

“No, it’s not that obvious. Sure, you’d be leaving your obligations. You’d have to take a hiatus from building your diner empire in downtown. You might miss out on some of the new buildings that open. But all those things– are they worth waiting for? You’re young. You could go now or ten years from now. You could wait that long. Or you could not wait at all. Ultimately, it’s up to you. What do you really want more right now? Why are you telling me to go so vehemently? Why are you trying to get me to do something you won’t do yourself?”

And there we found ourselves at a pause. A moment when I recognized that I had, for the first time, offered something to Mel that was more than a vague answer about what I felt. A moment when I recognized that perhaps there were things that I could offer her after all. That perhaps there was a spirit inside me after all.

It is easy to forget our spirits as we focus on what others have to offer us. As we become fixated on what everyone else is saying and forget that we also have truths living inside our skin. Truths that we know without anyone having ever told us.

The gut. That’s what it was. It was the gut. The ability to listen to it. To not only hear it, but to understand what it says and to act up on it. To know which way to move. To know which way really feels right and not just pretend.

I felt like I had just learned how to listen. Like I was finally hearing the cries that were telling me that I knew what needed to happen. That I knew something. That I wasn’t just being pulled along by the people around me, that I wasn’t just latching on to people I thought knew something, people I thought could lead me somewhere.

“So what does this mean,” Mel asked, “does this mean I ditch everything and run away across the ocean? What am I supposed to do now?”

“Well, you know what you want. That’s a good step.” A confidence rose up in me. I actually believed in what I was saying. I genuinely felt. I felt genuine. It is not as simple or easy as it seems. It is not as cut and dry.

“Now I’ll just be seething. I’ll be seething every day now about what I’m supposed to be doing. About what I want to be doing.”

“You were seething before anyway. You just didn’t pay attention to it. You pushed it away.”

“Now who’s acting like they know everything?” She smiled at me.

It felt good. It felt like wholeness. It felt like, for the first time, I was not just experiencing another person, but that they were experiencing me.

I had put Eve up into the clouds. I admired her as a goddess. I thought she was otherworldly. I thought she was the beginning.

And she was. She was a beginning. And she would always be the beginning. She would never lose that place in my heart. But there was more. Yes, there was more.

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