Of the journey from Pittsburgh to Lakewood, the most difficult part was the last few steps to the gold house on Elmwood Avenue. I had experienced anticipation and trepidation while packing the items I would need for the twelve days. I had paced the floor of the bus station in downtown Pittsburgh. I had shed tears in the seat of the coach, and described my excitement and terror to the fellow passengers who had noticed my crying. It was those last few feet, however, that I traversed with feet of lead.
It had been twenty-three years since I had seen the facade. It had been twenty-three years since last I had seen the person who lived there. It had been a very long twenty-three years. I remembered our meeting, in high school. I remembered the profundity of our falling in love. I remembered my stepping back when I knew that my parents would only hurt her terribly, when I knew that I could not subject her to that pain. I remembered our reunion, fifteen years later. I remembered our working together in her writers' workshop. I remembered our feelings for each other surfacing again. I remembered my stepping back, again, when I knew that I would only be a major complication in her life and that of her family.
I remembered my flight to Pittsburgh when my life in Cleveland came apart, and falling out of contact with her again. I had known that her health was not good, and I expected that she had died. I cherished her memory, recalling the good moments we had, and lamenting the errors of my past decisions. I loved her still, as I always had, as I always would.
Then came the contact request via Facebook. I was stunned; it took a full day for me to stop shaking. She was alive, returned from the grave. I considered it no coincidence that I had discovered her finding me on the day of the winter solstice, the event marking the return of light and the lengthening of days. We began lengthy correspondence, speaking of times past. She held a mirror to me, showing me what I had been, showing me how I had, for four decades, been in denial of my own motives in life. She initiated a torrent of tears that was to last three months, and which was the best thing anyone had ever done for me. She turned my life around; she even saved this life of mine.
Now I stood at the house on Elmwood Avenue. We had agreed that I should go to the side entrance, such that her Labs would not bolt through the open door. As the doorbell did not function, I took out my cell phone and entered her number. When she answered the call, I announced my arrival:
“Hon, check your side door.”
From the time of the embrace of our reunion to the time that I write these words, we have been engaged in long and intimate discussion. My life is changing yet again. She is helping me gather the pieces of my shattered existence and fit them into a whole, helping me build the basis of a life of which she is the cornerstone. She is my soul.
With all that I am, with all that, with your support and guidance, I may ever hope to become, I love you.