Love Stole My Ability To Breathe, And The Road Seduced Me.
Whereas most people spend their lives searching for love, I’ve spent far more time running in the opposite direction.
When the light of dawn comes to rest upon lovers’ tangled bodies, I mastered the way to unravel myself, to steal back my limbs and allow my bare feet to caress smooth floorboards, placing one step in front of the other, in the prefect balance of care and haste, reaching the door and disappearing without so much as a single breath missed.
I mastered the line I could teeter on with surety.
I did so between holding on and letting go, between loving enough and losing myself entirely, making sure the leather reins were always wound tightly around my wrists and one foot always remained propped in the door frame, preventing the latch from locking and the space inside becoming all too small for my frenzied spirit.
I mastered the way to leave without goodbyes, offering an unraveled thread of hope, of possibility, a dog-eared map of the world with ink blots that suggested where our paths may unite again, one day.
I learned how to keep the word Goodbye rolling around in the hollows of my mouth, trapping its syllables under my tongue when my lips parted to ensure the salt that rested in the ocean blue of my eyes remained there, rather than causing a river to run from my lashes to the cleft of my collarbone.
There was always a reason to stay, a love that could last a lifetime if I allowed it the space to dance uninhibitedly. There was always a reason to unpack my bag, to slumber onwards past dawn, to allow the lump in my throat to dissipate, and to allow my wings to close silently into the indentations of my shoulder blades.
Alas, it wasn’t my way.
Love always appeared in the most logical of places. My track was beaten just enough to come across soul reflections of myself, those lost kindred spirits who, like me, yearned for freedom and anonymity. Yet in our love, we risked stealing that pilgrimage from one another.
And so, being the braver one, the harder one, the one with steel and stone and fire where feathers and snowflakes and water should run, I would disappear, do us both the favor of not giving up on ourselves for the another. In time, I would tell myself, bare souls trekking through dense jungle, they would thank me, one day.
Movement was my greatest lover, the thing that gave me the most peace and undistracted joy.
Movement in the form of dance or Yoga or floating atop ocean currents, but more likely, movement in the form of a rickety bus ride, a nauseating slow-motion trajectory over the sea or a hair-raising motorcycle ride along roads that were only ever kissed by the shadow of a lingering palm tree.
Movement is what kept me sane. Movement is what kept my dreams alive.
For love is suicide, the lyrics of the song unraveled before me one summer afternoon. They were right after all, but never had this phrase ricocheted off the chambers of my own heart so eloquently. I tossed the words around in my head, allowed them to sink into my skin beneath the goosebumps and scars.
For those who searched the world for love, they sought company and recognition in the eyes of another. Yet, love had always left me lonely and lost, it held me beneath deep seas rather than lifting me up to heavenly skies, it shackled me with the softest caresses and it cocooned me with gentle suffocation.
Love stole my ability to breathe, for the air became caught in my chest, and each day I stayed longer was a day I lost on the road. And the road, well, she was the only one that ever truly seduced me, the only soulmate I had ever imagined I could be true to.
The road did all that a lover could in the books that captured my heavy eyes when nightfall came and lay by my empty side.
The road comforted me, soothed me, made me believe in the dreams I had harbored as a child. There were no drawings of white picket fences in the storybooks that chronicled my childhood. There were airplanes and railway tracks. Kites tangled in the clouds and oceans that stretched onward for eternity.
My gypsy roots are old, older than this skin I find myself in, and they are forever searching, forever on that golden road, that pilgrimage. Home.
I have several ideas where home exists; a place where I may rest awhile in the familiar way the shadow of sunset catches on the cobblestone road, the way music from the street lingers with my hot blood and asks me to dance despite the weariness in my bones.
I know there will be flavors that will catch on my tongue and remind me of food shared under stars another lifetime ago, and eyes that have waited for me to gaze into them and remember the way amber flickered with gold like in the depths of an abandoned mine. Long, long ago.
I know that somewhere the temperature of the air will make the skin that covers my body feel too small for my raging heart, and somewhere, every inhalation will flood my mind with memories long forged and long forgotten.
I have banished love for the promise I made to the road, a promise so old I can never recall when the words passed through my lips. I accepted a life of solitude, for I knew the road could be as frantic or as destitute as one pleased.
I knew every town that I ventured to would offer a roof over my tangled hair, for the look in my eyes is one recognized by those who too have wandered, if not for a lifetime, at least for a while.
Not everyone likes the taste of freedom, for its sweetness has a bitterness that laces fear into the hearts of some. Those who feared loneliness, they didn’t survive on the road, for the cracks and potholes could turn one mad if they didn’t yet know it was the cracks and potholes that you looked back on with tears of laughter and melancholy.
It was the lows as much as the highs that created meaning, that made the adventure precisely that and ever so worthwhile.
I have lived a life without promises, for I know they have a limited shelf life and love can make all kinds of odd things fall from passionate lips. I have lived a life that ordered not a single soul rely upon me, for like promises, my reliability was as questionable as an unblemished track in a dessert storm.
There were things that I have been forced to go without. I may harbor a handful of dreams that will never amount to anything other than whimsical ponderings, because a life on the road doesn’t allow you a place to call home long enough to start… anything.
The only truth I hold tight to is that the road offers no regrets. The only regrets that the black tarmac, the cobblestone road, the tangled jungle path or the rough seas have left me with were regrets when I have detoured for too long.
The road doesn’t disappear, it will always be there, but the ability to trust it, to see its perfect wisdom, to be intoxicated with the promises it holds, can become faded and jaded if you strayed for too long. Society could catch up, bills could tie you down, but the knowing that there was another way, began to be questioned…
Love is always a temptation, but love is a jigsaw puzzle of fences, blockades, barricades and no through roads. There is beauty in love, but that beauty is insurmountable to the beauty of an unfettered journey.
Can I have it all? I am not sure. I have tried and failed, for the needs of love have always been too demanding on this gypsy spirit. When I have questioned this path, when the world whispered that perhaps this time there was enough reason to stay, it is never fair on the one who holds me, the one who wants to build a lifetime with me.
For too often they catch me staring wide-eyed out of the window, a million miles away, daydreaming, forever yearning for that road that holds my heart.
Kelly Alexander is an aspiring writer, a raw food chef and a passionate yogi. A lover of travel and culture, this gypsy poet calls Byron Bay home, a place abounding in natural beauty, spectacular sunsets and endless inspiration. When she is not traveling the world or making raw wedding cakes in the kitchen, you can find her strolling through farmers’ markets in the sunshine, etching words into a faded journal or dancing barefoot along a sandy shore. You could contact her via her website.