Deep as a River

Tetons River_feistyharriet_May 2014

When I was an angsty teenager I wrote a book of poetry, 64 pages carefully copied into a beautiful notebook with pages lined in gold. The first poem was dated April 7, 2001 and the last is June 28, 2002. I did not compose in this book, the rough drafts and scribbles of my thought process have long been lost, but the final versions are there in my best handwriting.

Those pages are an interesting study into my 18-year-old psyche. I was angry, suffocated, broken, and desperate for recognition, understanding, and unconditional love. I also wanted nothing more than to be free of the life that brought on all those hurtful feelings. I wanted someone to see me, not for who they thought I should be or who they wanted me to be, but just for me, as myself. I was anxious and desperate for space–space to breathe, space to move, and just space to be.

I told you: angsty teenager.

Which doesn’t invalidate my feelings or make them somehow wrong. They were, and I was, and that is all historical fact, carefully recorded in a golden notebook.

There are several pages dedicated to deep, wild rivers constantly on the move, belonging nowhere; lyrical paragraphs about roads to anywhere; ballads about ocean waves crashing into a shore only to race back to the comfort of the sea and throw themselves back on the sand; poems of thunderous rain clouds sailing over dark, moody mountains with angrily flashing lightening; stanzas of shooting stars; a haiku about racing the sunrise across the sky;  verses of a bitterly cold but terrifically strong northern wind whipping snow into the sky and exposing craggy granite peaks; prose about value and worth and distancing oneself via emotional canyons.

Goodness, I so wanted to be simultaneously lost and found, to be loved and appreciated yet on my own and free to make my decisions. I was willing to accept any consequences as long as I could also revel in my own successes. I think, to some extent, all people go through a similar period of being caught between adult and child, independent and also protected.

When I was 21 I signed a lease on a small one-bedroom apartment, left my abusive husband, and felt–for the first time–that I was finally free.

My new-found freedom was intoxicating, exhilarating, sometimes frightening, but I owned every minute of it.

I was finally that dark river, full of secrets and hurts, determined to keep going, to live a life “passing through” until I found somewhere safe to rest. The need to move, the constant churning, that is still there inside of me, a fierce independence that demands her freedom. However, right now–and for the last little while–I am content. I don’t expect this contentment to last the rest of my lifetime, but I also am better equipped to “run” without actually leaving. All it took was a couple of years of testing my wings to learn how to fly, but also to learn how to return home, wherever that home existed.

Harriet sig

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2 thoughts on “Deep as a River

  1. I absolutely love that photo on top. Nature has so many fitting metaphors for life, right? The seemingly placid river that is churning underneath, the loud but shallow brook, the trees and plants that stretch up to the heavens. There is a strong but unspoken poetry in nature that I wish I had the power to translate into words.

    PS: Glacier National Park is on my bucket list thanks to one of your posts a couple of years ago.

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    1. Yes. Absolutely this. (And frankly, I think you translated all of those ideas beautifully).

      I really hope you make it to Glacier! And I *really* hope the Going to the Sun Road is open!

      xox

      Like

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