Monday, May 21, 2007

There is gone and then there is gone...

Every now and then, out of the blue, memories pop up in my path and ruin my day like a car wreck. You are just cruising along and WHAM, you get hit in a blind spot and you are down for the count.

Today it was the thought of my first boyfriend. He introduced me to coffee and a lot of my favorite music and he taught me Italian and Polish phrases (He was fluent in several languages as he only moved to the US when he was 11, yet he spoke perfect English and had no accent.)
He liked going on adventures in our city. On our first date he found out I was not fond of heights so he convinced me to conquer my fear and took me on a date to the tallest building in Anchorage. He found a way for us to sneak on the roof and he held my hand as we stood as close to the edge as possible. It was as terrifying as it was exhilarating. That is where he kissed me for the first time. He said since I was brave enough to do something that frightened me, he would be brave too.
He told me stories of places in the world that he had seen and lived that I have yet to see. He painted pictures of a world outside of our small town that I never imagined but could not wait to be free to discover on my own.
We planned a three month trip to Belize the summer after we graduated. We bought tickets and got shots and studied all of the areas we wanted to explore, but at the last minute I chickened out. I cashed in my ticket and he went without me. While he was gone I got together with a man who eventually became my daughter's biological father. While he was gone, he rediscovered his love of travel and life and he heard an inner calling that lead him to travel all over the world again.
I moved to Seattle, he got married, I had a baby and moved back to Alaska, he moved to Seattle.... two ships in the night. We stayed in touch for the first couple of years, but over time the calls and letters were fewer and farther between.

We grew up and became very different people.

Eventually I moved back to Seattle. I would run into him around the hill every few months. I was all Rock-n-Roll mommy, while he had morphed into a totally happy, earth loving, hippie. He had become really involved in yoga and meditation, and drum circles and that sort of thing. We had very little in common anymore, but we enjoyed seeing one another in passing. There is a certain comfort in knowing that someone else shares your positive memories of youth no matter how different you become as an adult.

Years later I heard that he vanished. He had gone to another country to teach English and in his first few days there he went missing. They searched for him for a very long time, but nothing ever came of it. There are a few theories on what might have happened to him ranging from an accident and getting swept away by the river to being murdered for his US Passport.
Whatever happened to him, he is gone. And not the kind of gone that allows your heart to mourn when you lose a friend to death and you go to their funeral, you grieve and you move on. I've been through that sort of death so many times, the process of mourning is a fixture in my heart now. It is a part of me.

This kind of gone is a question mark. An unfinished book. An opening that leaves room for hope and imagination.

When he creeps into my consciousness I see him meditating in a mountain monastery for tens of years losing track of time and wandering back for our twenty year reunion surprised at his "Death" status in the US. I see him slipping and hitting his head during a hike and losing his memory and starting a new life with a wife and children, a clean slate. I see him joining the CIA with his multiple languages and love of adventure and being forced to vanish for national security purposes.
But what I never see, when I think of him, is dead. I never see gone. I only see him as just not here right now.

Missing Since May 21, 2003



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