Retrace your steps. If you have lost something, normally the best way to find it is to go back over the ground you travelled when the item became lost. With people it is a bit different. Your wallet generally stays where you dropped it unless someone happens by and spirits it away. A person is usually far more mobile than a wallet or a set of keys. They do, however, leave a far more obvious trail. Somewhere along the line there is a starting point. You go back to the last place you saw them, remember that last conversation, and remember what it was they said and did in those last days before disappearing into the mists.
If we believe there are patterns in our own life that we tend to repeat over and over, we must believe the same of others. Most of these patterns are not openly beneficial. They are patterns that bring us down and keep us from achieving some form of self-defined greatness. In those patterns it is easier to find what has been lost. In those patterns we reveal ourselves even when we are not intending to, and most often we are not intending to.
They didn't object to their little girl going off into the night with that older boy. They only asked that she bring a chaperone. The older boy had a car, but it was broken down in his driveway, serving as a two-ton cigarette lighter. The boy brought a driver. The driver and the chaperone spent the evening trying to seduce each other and left the boy and the girl to their own devices. Neither one was there to prevent the kiss that frightened the hearts that pumped blood into those lips. They stole away to the two-ton cigarette lighter and tried to figure each other out. Then they ran away from each other. He let her run, although he tried to stop her once. The boy was scared of life in those days, but he was more afraid of endings than he was of beginnings. It was years later that she learned about what he had done. He kicked the two-ton cigarette lighter and jumped on his bicycle and rode thirty miles over hilly terrain and state highways to get to her house before the school bus did. He got there twenty minutes too late. She was already gone. He wouldn't have realized it but she was a quarter of a mile away in a little park swinging on a swing and talking to a trusted friend about how she felt she would come to regret her decision.
She often lamented her inability to score high grades in school. No one spent more time with their faces buried in books or more time dedicating themselves to taking care of business. Never a social butterfly or the most popular girl in town, she was an unlikely candidate to become president of her graduating class. In those days they simply came to realize that someone who gave their all for the school was worth more than a pretty boy who smiled and led empty cheers. The fact that her older brother was the school's most decorated football star didn't hurt. It also detracted from her success.
Her parents owned a home in a the suburbs, but they never really had the income to afford the lifestyle they wanted, especially considering the girl had been the unwanted fourth child. Growing up she mostly wore clothes her mother made for her, and it was always evident that they weren't the latest fashion.
At her high school graduation party, the one time chaperone arranged for the one time chauffeur to supply the graduates with alcohol. The boy who once dated the girl, who could never stop thinking about her and wishing things had turned out differently, decided to cut in. He had not seen the girl in over a year. This was his opportunity to see her again. It took him too long to get there with his trunk full of contraband. A girlfriend he never loved held him up for too long. Nothing bothered this girlfriend except the mere mention of the girl that the boy once rode his bicycle thirty miles to see. She was an older woman working towards a doctorate in psychology who had little patience for wistful dreams of things that might have been. When the boy arrived at the house of the girl, it was almost midnight. The one time chaperone came out to meet him and spat venom at the boy. He handed her the beer and liquor and prepared to leave, but then the girl's twin brother rushed out of the house to apologize. He shook the boy's hand and thanked him for his efforts, noting that the girl would probably like to see him but that it wasn't the right time.
The boy stayed with the older woman for three and a half years. Her name was Lisa and she had a fondness for a variety of sexual partners. When this information became obvious to the boy, he tried to run away from everything he knew. He ran as far as he could, and found himself in a downtown bar trying to forget. Walking through the door, he realized the girl he thought he lost was sitting at a table by the door. She smiled when she saw him.
"You do realize that you have this horrible habit of letting women take advantage of you."
"I had no control over what happened."
"You had more control that you are willing to admit."
The girl and her friends were staying in a hotel two blocks from the bar and they asked the boy and his old friend the chaperone to come with them. Four girls and two boys. In a way it seemed an intriguing combination, but at that moment the boy realized he could never think of this girl in such terms. Every other woman he had ever known was one he wanted to throw down on a bed and devour with lust-filled passion. This girl was different. Such thoughts made him feel strangely guilty and yet pure at the same time. He desired her and found her more beautiful than any woman he had ever seen, but that angry lust he felt for other women was never present when this girl was in front of him. The only thing he had was a deep, resounding emotion, deep inside himself. It was years before he realized what the feeling really was.
"When are you going to make up your mind?"
"I think I already have made up my mind.
That doesn't mean I'm happy with the decision."
There would be a strange scene at the hotel. They would all go up to the room and then the girl would insist they had to leave. Moments later she would rush down the hall and grab the boy's arm and tell him she wanted him to stay. Then she would change her mind again and walk away saying that everyone needed to sleep. The girl's friends watched as she became frustrated almost to the point of tears and began to anxiously apologize to the boy.
The boy spoke very softly in those days, and the girl would chide him for being a "wimp." The only thing that really bothered him was how all his words and all his thoughts became trapped inside him and how he was unable to express himself to the girl. It was easier to run with women that didn't mean all that much to him because it would be easier to accept when they left. That mantra drove him to depression and suicidal thoughts. One who cannot be true to himself drowns in his own overflowing sorrows. The only thing that haunts us from one world to another is love that goes unexpressed and unfulfilled.
"Don't go this way again."
"Because I don't want to see that parking lot ever again."
"Why? What happened there?"
"Something I don't ever want to talk about."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. I'm very sure."
There were things she remained silent about, just as there were things he kept silent about. He began to fear that their interludes would be forever interrupted if he were to confess the depth of his love for her. It was better to have these moments in time that he could place in the scrapbook of his mind. He made one more effort to convince himself that this was something not meant to be. He got engaged to another woman and told her about it the same weekend the girl confessed she was pregnant. There would be no marriage. There would be no baby. Sorrow was magnified and they would not see each other again for three years.
He sought her out again. She had been glad to hear from him. He began to open himself and told her about the collapse of his engagement, his suicide, and how his best friend had abandoned him. She told him that if he really wanted to know what happened to her in that parking lot that listening to "Me And A Gun" by Tori Amos might be a good starting point. Then she gave him the album. It was all she would say on the subject and there were many other things she felt the need to be silent about. They gnawed away at her and she could not speak. His own silence began to feel small in comparison. She asked if she could just look into his eyes for a few minutes.
"Take me out of this town."
They drove north into the mountains, to the land they both considered some kind of sacred ground. They got lost the way they always seemed to. Neither could navigate all that well. It didn't matter. They drove for hours and walked out amongst the trees. She tried to convince him that he left himself too open to abuse and pain. He tried to convince her that she was living in a cage and needed to let herself out before she suffocated. He had told her that he loved her too much to ever be able to stop. She told him that meant nothing because she was incapable of love, or so she had convinced herself. She believed she was only capable of causing pain, at least in people, and could only give her love to the animals she cared for.
He stopped holding back his emotions, whether those emotions were pain, sorrow or love. He coughes them up with regularity. She still holds it all back and hides within herself. They exist at polar opposites of the emotional spectrum and yet there continues to be something between them. He wonders if she has given up or has just stopped trying. He wonders if she has found her own little piece of happiness or if that even matters to her. He has no way of knowing unless she speaks and she's been silent all these years.
This best read while listening to the song "Silent All These Years" by Tori Amos.