Ten years ago, my exile began. The decree—to be utterly alone. What worse punishment could there be, my family thought, than to be deprived of their divine presence?
Guilt and shame, remorse, humiliation, those are familiar emotions of a religion to which they still cling. But as the afternoon of life spread its shadows across my face—rage and grief, thwarted desire, lust, exhaustion, self-pity: those were the emotions I knew well.
I fled to the wilderness in shame, and in an extraordinary twist of fate, my life began. Star light, star bright, I found the wish I wished. Innocent child. Lonely man. I made a wish, and the dream came true.
In a life isolated and misunderstood, if one is lucky, there is a moment when another being collides with you—as a meteor strikes the earth. Such a synchronism is Gina Crews Elrod to me. Somehow, she began to transform me into my most real self.
In the woods, alone together, we learned to laugh again, to match every bitter tear with an empathic smile. There were no wounds we could give each other that we had not already given ourselves. We gradually resolved to stand tall once again and pursue a life of happiness.
We learned to recognize and name birds by the melody of their song and trees by the texture of their bark, to pay attention. To be surprised by buzzing hummingbirds and startled by coiling rattlesnakes.
She would slip her fingers into mine, warm and damp. Hand in hand, we climbed the rugged ridges where the ancient poplars speared high into the sky, slipped down to the lower meadow where the black walnuts thrive, and skirted the tree lines where blackberries grew thick and sweet. We wandered the meandering hills, the buzzing fields of dandelion and lavender, and set our footprints across trails blazed by teeming wildlife.
We searched out streams and waterfalls, found hidden caves and foxes lair. We heard the coyotes howl at the moon, and the frogs cry from their mud at dark. We were drunk, as the whiskey and wine in our cellar had never made us.
It is easy to speak openly with Gina. Her heart is like a quiet pool that holds everything safe in its depths. Together we have perfect solitude that will never be lonely again. The world is made of mysteries, and the extent of our communion is only another riddle among the millions.
No wonder I have been so misunderstood, I thought. All this while, I was a tree without leaves, a meadow without flowers, a star without a night.
Yet now look where we tread. We have found ourselves at the seashore. We have found home—in our selves and with each other. It has been healing for us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Happy Birthday (our tenth celebration) to my muse, my lover, my friend, my companion, and my wholemate. Here’s to the enjoyment of the day, the coming year, and the nectar of life. There is nothing else than today—your day. There is neither yesterday nor is there any tomorrow.
I think you are old enough now to know that. And I look forward to sharing that truth with you. What happens in all our other days (should we have them) will depend on what we do today.