Harry is a pal from college whose effortless acceptance of art in his life is something I often quite covet for my own. Harry graduated a year before me and was off to Nashville for the beginnings of his next adventures. As our individual stories are forged far and wide, across the country and into others, I have not forgotten this admirable quality of his, as it catches up with me periodically through postcards always adorned with one of his newest prints. And there is something about the limited space of a postcard that makes the act of crafting its message a work of art all its own. A while back, Harry adroitly sculpted, “I feel like life is a wish you were here type feel.” And with that one line, an exhibition of dancing images filled my mind.
I have somewhat embraced a transitory lifestyle. There are too many things I haven’t done yet. There are too many places I haven’t seen. There are too many people with whom I have yet to converse, to swap stories. And these too manys keep my feet fluttering, chasing after the enticing motion of it all. It’s not that I’m not settled, but rather that I settle in many places. What begins as a trip or a temporary move soon becomes a place, an emotion with which I become intrinsically intertwined. Put simply, it is a good thing that I was born with a big heart because I sure tend to leave a lot of pieces of it in a lot of places.
A couple of years ago now, I was sitting in my little Eugene studio in the woods listening to the rain hit the trees and then drip down to pitter patter on my skylights and moss-covered roof. While taking in the calming sound, I had a realization — I will always be missing someone. I miss my mother, my father, and my brother. It seems so strange to me sometimes how we can be so powerfully bonded yet concurrently live such free-standing lives. I miss my adopted Greek family. No matter how much time passes, the love and connection I have for them is unequivocally strong. And each walk of my life so far seems to bring me some individual who makes my heart happy with the knowledge that I’ll treasure them forever — Katie B., Rachael, Erin, Michelle, Jonide, Naomi, Monika, Allison, Tania, Nicki, Kietryn, Liz, Nora, Lauren, Katerina, Shelby, Ciccy, Ty, Kelly, Kyle, Tiffany — these names create a mere partial list of the Diaspora of the pieces of my heart that I’ve left with cherished beacons across this great planet. And sometimes I meet another roamer, a kindred spirit, who understands my plight, and they’re terribly wonderful too.
Since my grandmother’s recent passing, I have had moments where I have really missed her, and these moments have brought with them an interesting awareness of the state of “missing you.” When my grandmother was alive, I also had moments where I would miss her, but the difference was the existence of the possibility that I would see her again. No matter the stretch of time that would pass, no matter where off in the world I may be at that time, I knew that it was an option, it was a potential that I could go see her again — that I could feel her touch, smell her smell, hear her voice, laugh with her, eat with her, be with her.
On one of my beginning days in Greece, I hiked to the top of Mt. Lycavittos, the highest point in Athens. I stood and gazed out at the sprawling entirety of the chaotic beauty of the city, and found myself reflective. I thought about my family, my friends, the steps that had gotten me to this height, the ones I couldn’t decide whether were scripted or simply the end result of universal happenstance. During my reflection, I looked down at the stone railing before me. In black marker, a small note read, “Algún día…estaré aquí contigo…” I had enough high school Spanish under my belt at the time to quickly understand its meaning. Someday, I will be here with you.
I imagined the person who wrote this. I imagined the look in their eyes and the feel in their mind when they stood in the place where I now paused to ponder. At that moment, I didn’t exactly know the fleshy being who would fill my “you,” but I did realize that I held a similar sentiment to the writer of this message. I knew that there was this future soul with whom someday I would be standing, not needing to miss. And the thought of this warmed me; the existence of the possibility that I would be with this person, that no matter the stretch of time that would pass, no matter where off in the world I may go after this moment, it was an option, a potential that I would someday see “you” here — that I could feel your touch, smell your smell, hear your voice, laugh with you, eat with you, be with you.
I have been, at times, a little skeptical of, “I miss you.” I guess my thought was that maybe it should just be a given, that to say it too much was to risk sounding cliché or insincere. Not to mention, the addition of Facebook wall posts into society led to a rapid and excessive dissemination of the phrase, “I miss yo’ face,” and although I, too, at times have fallen victim to the use of this lingo, I am hesitant to fully embrace it as a soul-aching, yearning, pining, true craving for the physically absent companionship of another.
However, when I miss my grandmother now, the missing is no longer covered up by the knowledge that I can go see her again — I don’t get to tell her, “I miss you,” anymore. My future Mt. Lycavittos companion, on the other hand, still has that potential. And that potential is much more calming than empty space filled by confusion on how exactly to proceed with felt missing. This chasm between missing with potential and plainly missing is what has left me with a renewed understanding of the historically enduring sentiment of — “I miss you.” For I have come to realize that it is the knowledge of the chance that you might see someone again that is our numbing agent. To miss is to hurt, to experience discomfort, and a simple, “I miss you,” or by all means an, “I miss yo’ face,” is the remedy we have at our disposal to remind ourselves of this potential, to numb the impending ache of separation from he or she whom one loves with pure honesty. It is an example of one of those acts that create the mystifying concept I have alluded to in previous posts — melancholic joy, joyous melancholy. Life is beautiful, but life is also what happens to inconvenience the beauty.
I don’t want to miss you. I would much rather hold you, hear you, smell you, laugh with you, eat with you, think with you, be with you. But, I do miss you. And, so, alas, this is the best I’ve got — Someday, I will be here with you. Until then, it’s always an I wish you were here type of feel. And, maybe, if I just keep writing, I’ll distract myself enough to not notice the extent of just how much I terribly miss you. Just maybe.