He Is Gifted In The Art Of Alchemy

A photo from our weekend backpacking trip to Packard Lake, The Uintas

Do you remember that scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's when Holly Golightly (played by the eternally enchanting Audrey Hepburn) explains to her friend Paul Varjak that she doesn't get the blues so much as the mean reds?

"The blues are because you're getting fat, and maybe it's been raining too long, you're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid, and you don't know what you're afraid of."

I get the mean reds, too. Out of nowhere they latch onto my body, beleaguering my bones and suffocating my cells. They make my guts feel crowded and dizzy. It's like a giant bruise, spreading purple and pulsing. For several days this week I was battling my way through a mean red onslaught. I was feeling angry and trapped. Most maddening of all was that I couldn't figure out why my world felt cracked.

I went to CHB's house on Sunday to seek some refuge, but only ended up feeling angrier. For hours I tried to explain my bruise to him and bruised him in the process--as the mean reds are anything but elegant. Finally, in a moment of total vulnerability and exhaustion, I said to CHB, "I don't like myself." And I didn't. Not in that moment. Not with all of the clumsy and cruel thrashing about that I was doing.

Without missing a beat he walked over to me--me who was crouched in the chair like some frightened animal--and held on tightly.

I cried hard into his shirt. He laid his hands on my back.

I said, "I feel alone."

He said, "I'm here."

And the three days of darkness left. Up to the sky they flew, swift and immediate. My cracked world let in the light. My bones sighed, my cells expanded, and my guts relaxed. Every drop of venom pulsing through my veins went sweet. It was nothing less than alchemy.

In that moment, I thought back to my dissolved marriage and the ways in which the man I chose to love ten years ago was not interested in tending the bruise but only intensifying it.

Then I thought forward to the man I'm choosing to love now. His heart is crystalline. He is a healer of bruised spirits. His love changes me. It's clear, he is gifted in the art of alchemy.