The first place we lived together was warm, bathed always in sunlight and the sounds of being under water. All the windows opened to let in the fresh winter, snow-tinged air. Late nights, I laid on a couch you found by sheer chance. We had problems and we were shortsighted — but we had love. And that, back then, was enough.
The undercurrent of alterations was slow as it eroded the ground under our feet that we thought we’d always stand firm on. Not rocks, not sand. A soft soil that filled the air with sweet aromas while it trickled away in the downpours. We tried to hop the rivulets and find new purchase. We grabbed branches that felt sturdy. But the forest slowly morphed around us almost without our noticing.
The first time we slipped on a tangle of vines was bad, but by no means the worst. It’d get harder before the end. We’d cling faster to shifting things. We’d grab dead branches that’d break away like dust. We’d step into potholes that’d swallow our whole ankle up. We’d get higher along the cliff-side only to tumble head-first onto sharp slick rocks.
Seven years we lasted trying to make the summit. That was long enough. We’ve packed our gear, now, and given up.
Sometimes, turning back is the only way to move ahead.
Of course, the trek through all that wilderness with all the signposts of where we failed and where we passed will not be easy. We will constantly feel the strain of having decided to give up the initial goals. We will always think — but what if we had kept on? We will always know that the unknown was above our heads, and we came down instead.
But sometimes, the turning is better than the summit you would have crossed. And sometimes having gone up at all is enough. The joy of achieved some arbitrary goal would not have outweighed the cost. The suffering we’d have incurred.
That is what we’ve chosen. And that’s alright.
We don’t have to scale every obstacle because we thought we could. Or should. Or wanted to. And sometimes, the return home is so much warmer once you start it.
The ghosts I pass along the way are spirits of my past. They are the whispers of old friends. Tracks through the trails where I had been.
I accept this trek, retracing my old steps. I’ll only learn to be better from it.