I watched the trees out the window of the M72 bus. They have shed their golden leaves, letting them go at the peak of their beauty, choosing instead strong, bare trunks and branches instead of brightly colored soft ornamentation.
I understand that. I feel very proud of my strength these days, when I can walk down crowded city streets alone without fear, tame the public transportation that eats tourists for lunch every day. I can go out without makeup and feel radiantly beautiful. I have learned my own worth, and no longer need shiny gold and jeweled rings on my fingers to feel it.
Still, though, I know my world is soft. I watch the tree limbs waving slightly in the breeze, while people on the sidewalks can barely walk against the gale. I pull my muffler around me and feel grateful for heated buses. I’m only human, after all, and my skin may have thickened, but it’s not bark. People, I think, envy trees. They live longer, they weep less.
I’m not as tough as a tree.
And, still, not as tough as you.
Winter gales never phased you either. All that tinkering with your dashboard, the search for blankets, the times we sat indoors instead of strolling through the woods - it was all for me. Would you be frustrated to know you were the last guy who ever needed to do such things? I chuckly softly to myself as the bus chugs through the whistling wind. I keep myself warm now, thank you. I have learned how to dress.
Such warm memories of us, of you, stirring homemade hot cocoa, snuggling under afghans on your sofa, making love by the light of a Christmas tree under grey fake fur blankets... I feel cozy just remembering. It hurt to leave. I’ve had many long, cold winters since those days. But not this year.
I think you would be proud of me.
I miss you less these days. Sometime during this last year, I lost the ring you gave me. Forgive me… I never wore it anyway. I kept it as a remembrance, like my photo album, like the crystal I gave you. Like love.
I am full of love, and always will be. I have finally learned the value of that. The trees will have their leaves again. I have a new love. Life goes on.
In the meantime, we are strong, and the world is amazed.