Head and Heart at Odds: A Story of Forgiveness.
This is a story about forgiveness.
Many summers ago, I met a man with eyes the color of sea glass. We were both waiting for the thunderstorm on a dark night when I was dancing with magic.
We spent hours talking about butterfly migration and outer space and god. He doesn’t believe in god. “It contradicts science,” he said.
“Science is proof that god exists,” I say, “in the way a seed grows and a bird flies and the sun burns.”
We discovered our own private island. We let the sun paint us golden. We wrapped arms and legs and bathed in light, iridescent and beyond time. He used a seashell to pour warm salty water from the falling tide over my body. I melted into the sand.
We learned the color of each other’s eyes in moonlight and when we were bare.
“What’s your favorite shade of moon?” he asked.
“I once saw a hot pink full moon rise,” I say, “that’s my favorite.”
He likes the soft yellow low-hanging moon color, before it rises into its arc across the sky.
“You’re either a soulmate or a serial killer,” I tell him.
There is electricity and longing and chemistry on levels beyond being human. We often sit close, in silence, as if we are remembering other lifetimes, apologizing for how long it took us to find each other, playing in feelings we don’t understand. We play cribbage and word games and cards.
We have dance parties and laugh. We disagree and lean into each other to understand. We hurt each other and we forgive.
We make three promises: to always communicate, to always be honest, and I always forget the third one.
Spring arrives and new things begin to grow. Mistrust and fear.
“No one has ever loved me this way,” he says. He doesn’t believe in magic.
“It’s because I love you that I would let you go, if that’s what you wanted,” I say.
We dream about Zanzibar. We make lasagna. We dream about our lost summer, when we played like children in the sand and felt the light of the sun on our faces.
“I slept with someone else,” he says, and my heart breaks for the first time.
I let him go the first time.
“You made me believe in magic,” he says.
“Then I won the only game that ever mattered,” I say. We listen for just a moment, and through the tears we can hear each other’s breath before the phone goes silent.
We become silent.
Summer comes to visit again and he won’t leave me. I feel him everywhere I go, I ache to be close to him again. I contact him.
“You always get me right in the heart space,” he says during our brief rediscovery of each other, “how do you do that?”
“That’s the good stuff,” I say.
We only see each other one more time. We sit together on a dark, starry mountain night, in a park under a clock tower. Summer rain begins to fall and it’s time to go again.
“I’m lost,” he says.
“You’re not lost,” I say, “you’re healing.”
It is so easy and sweet for us to fall into each other, to the words and the emotions and the intimacy we will always share. And, I am not what he wants anymore. He breaks our sacred contract. And, he breaks my heart for the last time.
“Say something else,” he says urgently, “leave me with something.”
“We will never leave each other,” I say, “your head and your heart are at odds, you best sort that out.”
I send him a framed picture of us. A frame handmade from the wood of my ship. A picture of two people standing on that ship, gazing together toward a setting sun. Their arms are draped casually, comfortably. They are caught in a daydream. Their hearts are bound, but their minds are different.
He sends a message to say thank you… for the picture, for always hitting him in the heart space.
I reply, and the last words I say are, “Good morning, you’re welcome.”
The world goes silent.
He was not a serial killer, and the pain of losing him is almost too much. It breaks me in ways that I haven’t been broken before. The learning is slow to come and the letting go takes ages.
And then one day, without knowing it, I forgive both of us… for the contract we didn’t honor and the pain we caused each other. That’s the thing about soulmates, you see, they may be bound but they must also choose.
Annya Broderick is an author, coach and sailor. Her memoir, from elle a., was the finalist in AWP’s Award Series in Creative Nonfiction (2012). She gave up working for a living and now spends her days as a life and leadership coach. She practices yoga, holds a US Coast Guard Captain’s license, and studies the stars on the side. She can usually be found messing around on her Cape Dory, Edelweiss, and her favorite words are ‘transformation’ and ‘delight’. You could contact Annya via her website.