It was the spring of the first time I had ever broken up with someone. I was still processing what the hell had happened over the past two years. I had stopped writing, stopped painting, stopped singing. I had a closet full of clothes I hated. I was raw and not yet angry but starting to learn to be angry. I don’t think I fully realized until later how important that was to healing.
I channeled all my excess energy through running, and I ran with a friend of a friend. We started talking, and soon he was telling me he had feelings for me. His kisses tasted like fresh-baked bread. He cooked me rosemary chicken. We lay side by side in a field and watched the sky overhead grow gray and thick with thunder. We were both going through some serious shit, and I think we each secretly knew we wouldn’t be together very long, but we were there to hold sacred space for one another.
He burned me a CD, and the very first song was Alkaline Trio’s “Over and Out.” It wasn’t my usual cup of tea, but something about it resonated. I listened to the CD, this song, on repeat at full blast in my basement that May, my arms streaked with watercolors, the outside world blooming fiercely. I painted a series of a girl rising from a half-shell in the sea. I painted her making a sailboat out of the shell and fishing for food, and, finally, finally finding land. In the very last painting she is on a beach, looking out at the horizon.
Every time I listen to this song I think of running, the smell of mud on the trail. I think of lightning and the musk of lilacs, light rain. And I think of the girl surviving on her half-shell in the middle of a vast ocean, and the boy who wasn’t afraid to hold her hand.