People come into our lives for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes they're just passers-by, on their way from one point to another, whose path just happens to cross with ours. Other times, they're milestones and markers on our journey from Point A to Point Me, an interesting landmark that catches our attention and makes us pause for a moment to examine our surroundings a little closer. And other times, well, there's a purpose to their entrance into our lives; we are supposed to stumble upon each other and learn some lesson, to find some new meaning in ourselves because of something one of us has to teach the other.
These aren't necessarily the people who will surround us for the rest of our lives. That's a very lofty ideal, to find our souls' mates and have them with us ad infinitum. So often, though, that becomes ad nauseum, and the time comes when the separation has to be made, when those people have to be culled from our lives. That can be a painful process for one or both sides, but it is sometimes unavoidable if we are to move healthily forward along our path.
I strive to find the purpose in virtually everything I do. Experience is often mundane, and there's little hidden purpose in the activities that often fill our days. Breakfast and transportation and sleeping all serve a very defined and insignificant-though-necessary intent. It's when people cross my path that I am most intrigued, my overdeveloped curiosity piqued.
I got home about a week ago from
Glittery Girl Week. This was my first
stretch of alone time since the divorce began.
I flew to Chicago to see Tiff for a couple of days, then on to
Birmingham to hang with Hot Pocket (née Mandypants) and Growler, plus a few
other glittering beauties and glamazons-in-training. Planes, trains, and automobiles—plus buses
and a lot of cathartic walking—took me to new restaurants and bars and clubs
and shows. I took Tierney on a tour of
Chicago, where so much of her action begins.
I got my first tattoo. I watched Persona Non Grata sell at Quimby's in
Wicker Park, where so much of Tierney's action begins. Where so much of my own life began in
It was, perhaps, the craziest five days of my life. (If you know me, or if you've read Persona Non Grata, you will understand why that's such a huge declaration.) And I loved every second of it.
Sitting on Tiff's sofa on Friday afternoon, she looked at me and said, "I've never seen you so confident in your life, Steph. Really. Ever."
She's right. I am. That's why I didn't shy away from the 70-year-old woman in a full-length mink coat who told me my purple-on-blond was beautiful. I graciously thanked every man who stopped me to tell me how beautiful I was—really feeling the sentiment for maybe the first time in my life. And when Paul, the 40-something guy I met outside my hotel in Wrigleyville held me up for ten minutes to tell me how and why I was special and beautiful to him, a total stranger, I was happy to give him the coat-open, full-frontal hug that he requested upon the parting of our ways.
With all of these new people skittering about me, I am watchful for the ones who may mean something. There was Fragile, a beautiful, young poet from Denver whom I met while boarding my flight from Chicago-Midway to Birmingham. Her life was so different than mine, but there was an immediate connection and reflection of so many of my own hard-fought lessons in this amazing young woman. When I gave her a Junkture guitar pick from my purse, she smiled and said, "I've started to affirm the things I'm going to do, not the things I want to do. I just affirmed that I am going to learn to play the guitar. This is my first guitar pick ever, and I'm going to use it to learn to play."
I gave her the copy of Persona Non Grata that had traveled with me through Chicago.
Maybe I am meant to come into someone else's life to teach them something as well.
There are others who've crossed my path recently, and I'm delighted to realize this stage in my life is about practicing the skills I've learned over the last two years, of bringing those lessons to fruition and proving to no one but myself that the metamorphosis really was what was supposed to happen, that there was a reason I breathed life back into Stephanie, that I met (and left) Absolem, and that my marriage came to its unavoidable and sad end. While I still have things to learn, I can sense with some of these new acquaintances what those things are—in one specific instance, it is trust in another person in the most intimate of ways— and I am realizing with each encounter that I have something to offer them.
Maybe it's a different kind of trust. Maybe it's learning how to allay their own fears in the face of certain criticism and lurid judgment. Maybe it's how to open their mouths and say what they want from me or someone else or their lives. Maybe it's even how to embrace the truth of their selves and to integrate those truths fully into their daily toil. And maybe it's something I will never know.
As I was circled by crows this morning—an omen of being mindfully true to yourself and your opinions, of walking your own talk—I realized that it's safe for me to impactful on someone else, that I can do it in ways that are healthy both to me and to them, without having to resort to the shame of keeping or being a secret. It is refreshing.
And I'm sure the learning will be reciprocal. I can hardly wait to discover what new thing is waiting for me.