Thousands and thousands of planes take off and land thousands and thousands of times across the globe. Once a plane is at cruising altitude, autopilot often takes over the flying; because of winds and other things that move a plane around, Ms. Autopilot makes multiple mini-corrections during flight, just to make sure the plane stays on course, heads in the right direction which is essential to the plane landing where it said it would land, where the airline company promised it would land, and where all the passengers accepting that promise, paid their money so that it would land.
We like those kinds of promises, don’t we?
We like to know that when we head into something, that we are going to get to where we think we should be, or if not where we should be, then at least where we want to be and where we hope to be. We want to land safely and softly, even if we aren’t sure where that is and what it involves.
Some women think it’s easy to be a lesbian. That they can simply switch their sex partner and life will be perfect. Well, that misses the whole point of that little thing we like to call coming out…
Coming out as a lesbian doesn’t guarantee safe and soft. It doesn’t guarantee anything except perhaps a sense of feeling true to yourself, having some friends who understand and accept you, and, no more dating and sleeping with or hooking up with men. On the plus side that translates into no unwanted or unplanned pregnancies or a need for birth control. That’s got to count for something.
Romance, sex, affection, love, becomes about women and if women loving women is anything, it is — depending on the women — more. More everything. Will it make you happy? Hard to say. Life doesn’t come with guarantees and neither does love. There is wonder. And love. And lust. And magic. Loving women is magic. I’m not sure straight women understand that.
She’s lost again.
Not since I’ve known her has she had a starting point or a landing point or a place to go. She’s just lost. Oh, she’s landed somewhere and it’s a place and she can see where that place is and where she is, and she knew as soon as she landed that there was no promise except the one she whispered to herself in the moonlight, the same promise she whispered to herself the last time she landed here and the time before that, and for all eternity.
This night, after a glass or two of wine, and me keeping the conversation light and easy, she talked so much about journey this and journey that and journey then and journey now that my ears were twitching in annoyance at her sudden adoption of new-ageness and self-development speak. I went in search of just the right antidote. A poem. I pulled out my Mary Oliver book and read to her:
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.
— by Mary Oliver
She picked at the edges of the place mat.
“You’re making fun of me. I don’t need to be saved. I need to be found.”
I looked at her. “You’re not lost. You’re here. You’re always here.”
She might have smiled a little. I wasn’t sure. She raised her eyes then, meeting mine. She shook her head.
“You’re wrong. If I’m here, it’s because I’m lost. Because every time I leave here I get lost, because everything I was and want is here with you and you can’t or you won’t. I can’t take it all back and I can’t go back and I can’t make it change. I’m trapped in being lost.”
It was my turn to shake my head. I started to say something, but she continued.
“You found me… can’t we…?” and her voice drifted off as her green eyes started to change to grey, the colour of tears, her tears.
“I can’t. We can’t. You know that. We set a target and we met it. I made you no promises.”
Tears tumbled from her eyes, streaming down her cheeks. I leaned close, touching my cheek to hers, then turned and kissed her tears.
The sound in her throat stung my ears. She moved away from me.
She took a deep breath and turned her back to me. She slipped off her shoes. Then she took off her sweater, dropping it on the floor. Then her shirt. She raised her bare shoulders as her dark wings unfolded. My heart pounded as I watched.
She turned around and stepped in close to me, wrapping us both in those wings, looking into my eyes, ignoring the electricity around us. She had no more tears.
“I’m not coming back.”
I nodded, afraid my voice would not work.
“Don’t visit my dreams,” she whispered.
I swallowed and nodded in agreement. It would work this time. She figured it out. I twisted in her arms and wings, moving to get out and away from her. I needn’t have worked so hard to be free. She was no longer there.