A fond farewell


It was cold - the blustery, wintry cold that chills you to the bone and makes every loose bit of cloth or hair flap like a banner. The wind was fast. It cried down the hills and wailed its way straight to your core as trees whispered and houses moaned, its chill was so penetrating.

Snow still clung stubbornly to the ground, even as the winter sun tried to tell you spring was coming. The grass was yellow, and the trees were bare. No bird dared fly or sing in such weather - they would surely be drowned out by the lament of the wind, and tossed to and fro in her misery.

In the center of winter's chill, I stood against the elements and embraced them. As I walked, I listened to the wailing of the wind and let its chill caress my face in what was like the bitter kiss of winter and her melancholy.

For I was melancholy. The first place that had embraced me since my entrance to the strange and foreign world we call Earth was gone. What remained was a scarred remnant, a whisper of glory lost, never again to be recovered.

With an aching heart I trudged back up the hill that lead to my house. What was behind was behind. If I had only realized at the time that my previous expedition into Other would be my last local one! But ... what is over is over, as what is behind is behind. I cannot change the past, but only what I do with the future.

Behind me, just around the road, was a hole in the earth. Where once had been a beautiful, wild glade with young trees growing and birds singing, where water and deer grazed, there was an aching wound upon the earth. The trees were uprooted. The birds sang no more. And in the middle of a huge pile of snow-clad clay soil was a hideous yellow tractor, at the end of a rough gravel pathway that lead from the road.

My heart still aches, even now that several hours have passed, and I am in the relative comfort of my bedroom, surrounded by things I take comfort in - scented candles and gently lamentful music, warmth and flowing vines. I still find myself being drawn back to the memory of the wound, the feeling of sudden shock peering between the barren branches of one of the many trees in the adjunct field, and seeing instead of my forest hideaway, a great, terrible gaping hole. The tears rise to my eyes as I remember the silent walks, the comfort taken from simply peering in at the world I knew was waiting for me, when I was ready to return to Other.

The memory of the heartache makes me long for rain, that I may flee to the outdoors and be half frozen as I suffer my grief. Or perhaps I'll simply throw on my jacket and run back outside to collapse in the dying snow, to be embraced by the chill winds and weep for longing of a thing now gone.

A gaping hole in the earth where once was beauty. It is not even a well placed hole - it floods in fall and winter, and the ground cracks in the summer. And they have chosen a poor time to make the gaping hole - winter, not spring or summer. A cold, blustery, frozen winter at that. So I must endure that painful mark longer than I would otherwise.

The thought of seeing a house there makes the tears rise again. I feel as if the place belonged to me - or perhaps I belonged to it. But it is no more. My place of wild and of wander, my place of silence and of stillness, my place of comfort and of cold ... gone.

No more shall I follow the tracks of the deer into the last wild place in my all too urban neighborhood, no more shall I listen to the lonely cry of winter's birds calling to each other in wonder of the life that yet remains. No longer shall I take my walks of solitude and reflect on what is and was and may someday be.

Other. The place truly was other. Maybe I made it that way. Maybe in my need for a life not so tainted by grief and sorrow and misery and suffering, I sought it out, and I made it something it was not. But part of me denies this vehemently. I cannot make a place be something it is not. And thus I believe, with the conviction of my soul, that my little woodland realm was not made other, but made me other, and gave me a glimpse to the World Beyond.

But no more. It is gone. It seems that in finding a bit of other in my life, I have come to an end. Since my August walk, where I first learned to see the Otherness in life, I have grown in leaps and bounds. I am not the person I was before, and I acknowledge this fact freely. I have been moved, motivated, and changed entirely. I've learned to find the Otherness in everyday things like deer and snow. I've learned how to see elves - even when I'm not exactly looking.

I had been wishing for a way to finish my stories on my walks into Other. I had never intended for it to be like this. I had hoped for a sense of closure. It seems instead of closure I have received an ending. This is the end of the tale. Not all tales, but this one. I am afraid I have nothing more to say. It is as if fate has given me something to write about. I had been hoping to find an opening for works of fiction - tales of what could be, rather than what is.

And here is my doorway. I have come full circle, from knowing only that another world exists, and waits for me to find it, to finding it and peering within, to having the door to my other shut, leaving me with only windows and memories.

But somehow, in an ending so sudden as this, there is closure. How do you say goodbye to a woodland, anyway? How do you shut the door on wonder intentionally? There is peace in words, I find. It seems at last, I've found the words I need to heal. If only words were like phoenix tears, and by saying enough of them, I could heal what I feel is a gross wound to earth itself, and restore my little bit of Otherly wonder back. But they are not. I can only heal myself with words.

So my walks into Otherness are over. Not forever ... but for a time. It is almost as if something - or perhaps someone - is telling me that it's all right to turn my attention away from fact and to fiction. Almost as if to say I don't need a woodland realm to find otherness ... as if other is right where it needs to be - inside.