This next part you do alone...

After the tower comes tumbling down, who's going to be there to help you clean up?

Maybe I could go back and just build it up again the way it was before. Maybe it wasn't so bad. Better the devil you know..?

No. There is no going back. And there is no healing other people. No matter how much I wish I could. If I could wave a magic wand, I would.

I heard "Kathy's Song" today and my ex decided to learn it on guitar. So while he's out on the balcony picking out the tune, I've been inside singing it to myself. It always makes me think of Portland, because I used to listen to it a lot when I drove home from running errands, often in the rain because, well, Oregon.

I was singing it and kept seeing the road I drove near my house, and the inside of my apartment, and the views of the yard and my neighbor's garden and the street through the various windows. I remembered walking Pixie through the neighborhood every night all summer, often talking on the phone to a friend, but sometimes listening to music or just to the crickets and the music from the bars and the sounds of people having little house parties.

I walked a lot there. To the Powell's books or the grocery store or the movie theater, all on Hawthorne Street. To the house of a friend and neighbor for girl's night once a week. To window shop and chat with another girl friend who loved to walk and talk too. I'd walk all the long way up the hill (because I usually missed the bus) with my baby who was still a baby then, to a church that had a coffee shop inside and lots of toys for babies. To the library that did not have coffee but did have books and movies and more toys for babies.

I used to get a tear in my eye when I listened to "Kathy's Song" back then, because I felt like whoever Kathy was, she sure was lucky that someone wrote a song like that about her. I was wondering if anyone would ever love me like that.

The more I sang the song tonight, the more those images rolled... of my little apartment in the old Victorian house, and the neighborhood sidewalks dripping with flowers and string lights, and me three years ago now, making my way with my baby on my hip, feeling all by myself. Sitting on the edge of the cast iron bathtub listening to music late into the night because it was the furthest away room from where she was sleeping, so I wouldn't wake her. And the more I sang, the more choked up my voice got, until I finally broke down and cried. It felt good, like a relief. But I didn't know why I felt so emotional.

I sat down to think about it and I think I cried because... I'm so proud of that little girl back there in Oregon, feeling so lonely and like maybe things were going wrong or something, and like she needed to change. And she walked and walked, and she worked really hard carrying her big baby and heavy bags of groceries, sweating and dodging the scarier street people and making friends and chatting with the girl from Tennessee who worked at the bookstore. She was all by herself in a way, but she made it. She didn't think anyone would ever love her as much as that guy loved Kathy when he wrote her that song (I know it's Paul Simon), and it made her feel invisible and cry. 

But now I find that... I love her that much, damnit. I see how strong she was inside, even though she couldn't see it herself. And I know how much she went through, and how beautiful her dreams were. And it makes me fall in love with her. With myself.

Every day spent with her is not sunshine and roses. She can be self-defeating and short-tempered and annoying. But she's going to make it, and I hope I can convince her of that. I hope I can show her, when she's feeling down, how far she's come already.

This next part, we do alone. Not without company, but still... alone. You have to do your work yourself. And it sucks. The days are long, but the years are short. And before you know it, you look back and go, "Oh my god, honey, look what we did..."

You did it.


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