There’s a park by my house where it happened.
A year ago, more already.
Time flies when you don’t? can’t? won’t? look up.
Across one busy road where traffic halts for a stroller and down a small hill to the geese, pavement and rock encircle a lake. A lake with a park where I remember playing in first grade. A lake where I remember releasing my brother's pet turtles in the 90s when my mom got sick of their stench. When I was sixteen, I was grounded for the summer and the only place I could run to was literally running around this mile stretch of lake and land. I never ran so much in my life—and me and my giant boobies and shin splints are not runners! Once or twice, I saw my mom cruising, creepin hella slow around the lake in her red suburban, making sure I was where I said I would be.
There’s this little hillscape on the southwestern ish corner of the water where geese go to snack, crows to murder, and folks to contemplate both. Between sage brush and tree are metal benches, for view, for thought, and for privacy. The elderly feed critters, take rest, and birds seem to go out of their way to shit on these benches.
It was here last November where it happened.
I had gotten here early to collect myself and reread the notes I’d tried to memorize earlier. The ones about crucial conversations and listening with love and quieting defenses. I’d been lent this book and it resonated so deeply with me that I thought it was the answer to all our problems.... which at that moment, was me. All me.
I had gotten there early to smoke a cigarette.
Okay, fine, two. In secrecy and shame.
I made my way over to the green bench, the one facing north, the one half shaded and chilly.
I waited and rehearsed, imagined, and planned. I waited openly, with eagerness, with child and with faith.
It was cold and we were both wearing Carhartt's, but only I showed up to do work.
He arrived with his decision on his face.
This relationship was over and launched to its end like a torpedo and I didn’t even get to turn my key. It felt like the most major of decisions in the whole entire world had been made without me.
I don’t think I cried until I got back to the car... I didn’t stop crying until the year ended.
I had to avoid this bomb sight of a lake bench for some time after that. Take an alternative route, avert my eyes. I remember regretting having agreed to meet him there, this sacred, historical lake to me. After I stopped crying, and the pills began to kick in (and I would leave my house), I would let? make? myself walk the path around the water most every day. As I would approach the hillscape to the bench I would look and I would see and I would remember. Sometimes I would cry, sometimes I would be angry, sometimes I would turn the music up. I would just glare at that bench and wonder and replay. The bench became an icon I fixated upon... I dreaded its eye contact and yet it fueled me.
It’s now November again and the city has been kind enough to pay special attention to that patch of land. The bushes have been trimmed out, leaves collected, weeds pulled, and wouldn’t you know... benches utterly rearranged? replaced? reset?
I couldn’t tell you which one was which or where that one is. It’s just no longer there. There’s no green, metal reminder facing north, half shaded and chilly anymore.
I walk there now with our daughter. Sometimes she sleeps, sometimes she coos at the birds, and often people stop us to tell me how beautiful she is. Especially the old people...always the old people.
I’ve walked that circle more times than I can count to my life. I’ve walked that circle most of those times in the last year. I’ve walked to breathe and think, I’ve walked to isolate and stew, I’ve walked alone and with friends. I’ve walked to sweat and shrink. Nugget and I just finished a Saturday stroll come to mention it and I’ve lost all the baby weight and then some.
I feel great. Renewed. I feel lighter and less heavy, like a great many weights have been lifted.
Insert cliche “dropped dead weight of 180 lb boyfriend” line here.
Come on, 2019.
I am ready for ya.
Mallory Kate is a blogger, artist, single mom and funny girl outta Nevada.