Don’t bother, they’re here.

I did the hard thing; it’s always the hard thing, every time I’ve had to do it. I told Alec about it all, everything, 20 years worth. He listened attentively, asked a few questions along the way, and when I was done, said he needed to go for a walk. When he’d been gone for three hours, I started wondering if he was giving me time to pack up and go. At four hours, I started thinking about where my bags got stashed. At four and a half, he walked in. I waited until the race of his breath slowed, then asked why he left.

“It was people like me. I could have grown up with the bastards. I could have been one of them. And now I can’t even find them and give them what they deserve. Maybe they were right, the ones who said I had no right to touch a woman like you. Look what happened when people like me did.”

It was my big mouth that got us in this, so it needed to be my big mouth that got us back out. I tried. I tried harder than I can recall trying to do anything in a very long time. I tried for two days. I failed. I don’t know if what he said was the problem really was, or if he just wanted to put an end to it and decided to try to be nice and shoulder all the blame; either way, I left. It was mutually agreed on.

I offered him some money since he was stuck with a six-month lease on a more expensive place because of me, but he wouldn’t take it. I spent the next day in a hotel, mostly talking to Maman through the tarot and asking why. Why is it ending now, when I was starting to trust in being happy again? Alec helped me so much; why couldn’t I help him? And now what do I do?

She answered: First of all, that it’s time to do what it was in my heart to do from the time I decided to return to Scotland. So I packed up my three bags yet again and made for Inverness and yet still another hotel.

And it’s over, she said more or less, because it’s over. Alec did what he could for me, and there was nothing I could do for him. And Tam and I would have no chance at all on our own, which I already knew. I have myself back, my strength, and it’s time to take up a life that relationships are not the center of, maybe no part of at all. If that’s so, I’m going to need all that strength. It’s a lonely future from here. Life as a hermit has never had much appeal to me, but I’d far rather do that than try to pretend I want to be social and watch a lot of happy people being together everywhere I look. I’d rather stay home.

As if to underscore that it’s the decision I should have stuck to in the first place, I found a house on my second day of looking, and my offer on it was accepted. It’s a nice little place in a very small village just outside the city, and it has a view of the water. It will be home, and my hermit’s cave if that’s what I’m to have now.

I’ve been feeling a call from the plant spirits again since I arrived, very strongly. Experience has shown that I don’t have to journey to work with them, and that they can play a role in healing even when they’re not being used as medicines. The ones that are sold here, I can have legally. It’s time to look into getting a greenhouse; I’ll have enough space in the back garden for a pretty good-sized one.

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