June 2004

It is spring and I have crossed a threshold. The path I walk I now walk alone, no hands of mine are held, no heartstrings attached. But I hide behind metaphor. After two years dating Colette, I broke up with her. If I had listened more closely to myself, been more honest and true, I would have ended it in March. As it was, the last few months were painful with prolonged anguish and confusing with words not spoken. I knew deep inside that it was over, had been over for a while, yet consciously I tiptoed around the idea of a breakup, not acknowledging the truth to myself. One night I told my story to a friend, a deeply personal and symbolic tale detailing the life of a boy who grew up in the forest and the bird he found, beautiful and afraid. He nursed the bird back to health and they sang together as they walked down paths and bathed in brooks. They entered dark caves and fought the inhabiting haunts and demons of memory. But the boy's light grew dim and he turned to go. The bird, perched upon his shoulder, held tightly to him. As the boy left the cave, he was drawn by the calls and colors of the other birds in the forest. Excited, he ran to find them while the bird dug her talons deeper into his back. Finally, he reached the banks of a pond and peering into it, saw a boy and a bird, their faces twisted in pain and fear. So solemnly he took a knife and cut the bird from him and drenched in blood, set out to seek his path again.

I spoke without preparation, without censorship or fear, and through this story I was able to face myself and know what I had to do. Such is the power of the symbol, the myth, and the storyteller. If dreams can create reality than artists and storytellers control the destiny of the world. And so I pass on my story to you, with the hopes that it will weave itself in your tapestry. What's more, I'm glad to say that while Colette was really pissed at me for a week or so, we spoke recently and we are on much better terms, and both happy with our situations.

Then, a couple of days ago I ran into an old friend. We got to talking and realized that she had just been through the exact same relationship as I, though in the opposite role. Her boyfriend and her were deeply in love and committed, then he went to college. Like myself, he had assumed the role of a therapist, and she had grown dependent on him. Being so far away added a lot of tension to the relationship, as it brought all the underlying problems to the surface. He was growing distant towards her, and sensing this, she tried to hold on more, which made him push her away even more. When he came back for winter and spring break, they had a good relationship, but each time he went back to college he lost interest in maintaining the relationship. So when he got back for the summer, he broke up with her, breaking her heart one final time. As my friend and I compared stories, we found even nuances in common (her ex-boyfriend also has long curly red hair and wears tie-dye; both she and Colette want to study psychology and join the Peace Corps etc). So I wonder, were we just living coincidental parallel lives? Were we acting as archetypes, playing our roles in a story as old as humanity? Is this a common experience of well-intentioned but ignorant lovers? Or is there some sinister conspiracy involving red-heads, birds, and the land of Mordor? Or am I just fishing for meaning in a reflective (nor revealing, now blinding) pool?


to contact me, email hstone (at) harperstone.org