Yesterday, I walked back in time. I stepped through the door of our home into the filtered sunlight, over the carpet of moss, and down the gravel road bordered by rhododendrons and hemlocks. I meandered down the winding road under the shadow of the big mountain with the sound of the rushing creek in my ears, the air cold on my nose. I walked down into the valley to our first Carolina home, the cottage with the star and the big garden and the brightly colored fence. The pantry was filled with home made jams, stewed tomatoes and pickles. I could hear you mowing the lawn, beer in hand.
I walked down the highway, through the gorge with the big river. I walked until the land became flat, the trees became tall straight pines, and then I smelled the sea. I walked to the city on the coast where we first met. I walked down the streets lined with giant Live Oaks dripping with Spanish Moss to the brick bungalow on the park that always smelled like barbecued pork and home-made beer. The old couch was in the front yard and I heard the laughter of our gathered friends. I paused in the dining room where we got tattoos, and then I walked into our bedroom where you knelt down and asked me to marry you.
I walked over the water to the secret island where we camped, playing with phosphorescent sand under the gaze of a billion glowing spider eyes. I saw us running naked on the beach in the sunshine, doing cartwheels, fucking and falling in love.
I walked to the dumpy apartment with the wobbly floor, the whole place would shake when the dog panted. We celebrated your birthday with a boobie cake that had pink frosting and cherry nipples. I walked three blocks over to the big park with the azaleas where we fucked on a blanket under the stars, and you turned on my light.
I kept walking back through the dark time, with the boyfriend who only fucked me from behind. Did he not want to look at my face? I walked north to the university where the darkness began, up the stairs to the noisy dorm room that smelled like popcorn and weed, where I was supposed to find myself, but I only got lost.
As I walked my body changed, I sometimes grew leaner and sometimes rounder. My hair got shorter and longer and shorter again, my face was my own but different. I walked all the way to the perfect little town with the golf carts and soccer fields, where I became me. I walked to the big house in the nice neighborhood, and I saw my first car in the driveway. I could hear my sisters singing Spice Girls songs about things they didn’t yet understand. The smelly dog was sprawled on the plaid couch in a ray of sunlight, her tail beating a loud patter.
I walked to the creek where I was touched for the first time by a nice boy just as nervous as I, trembling fingers sliding into newly discovered wetness. I felt the awkward kisses where braces knocked against each other, his mouth felt so foreign on mine. I walked down the cart path to the pond with the three bridges and the gazebo to the little apartment. The dog was just a puppy brought by Santa Claus, sequestered in the kitchen for bad behavior. I walked into my old room with the pretty white furniture and the wrought iron daybed where I first discovered what pleasure my own fingers could bring, shyly touching only on the outside of my panties. I walked to the school down the road, the hallways filled with the din of adolescence and uncertainty. I felt so mature then, but I was just a kid.
Then I stopped walking, I turned around and looked at the journey I’d taken, the path that led me to you, filled with darkness and light, mountains and valleys, all the different sounds and smells of my life. And I ran. I ran as fast as I could back down that path, and I came home. Back home to You.