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Catalysts. That is what he called it. The events that kick off a snowballing chain that lets you know that you have done the right thing. His voice was deep and smooth, aesthetically pleasing to my ears. They come in all shapes and sizes, he embellished. We were sitting in the corner booth of one of those all-night joints. I knew I'd regret the food the next day but I ate it anyway. I let my tongue fidget against the roof of my mouth as both a way of inspecting the new burns there from the horrible coffee and as a way of distracting my mind long enough before it made my hands do similar nervous fidgeting.
He said, there are two things that happen that let you know moving on was the right choice. I could feel the words move across the table, then into my ears, resonating my ear drums. For a second it was like being under water, suspended there in that moment. My eyes watched him closely as he pulled his notebook towards him, flipping to a blank page. His hands instinctively took a ball-point pen across the paper in patterns making sense to him. I was trying to figure out how he could make his hands do that with the ink but the words kept coming, they kept moving. I could feel them. Catalysts. Yes. Synapse after synapse down the spinal cord and suddenly his smooth voice bellowing out words I needed to hear.
The first is that you end up happy. You do something for yourself that you would not have done otherwise. You take a trip. Make a move. Find a new job, a new place, a new person to call home. This is the easy part.
The second is much harder, and slower to come to fruition in your mind because you don't get to watch it. She ends up happy. She blooms in a way that you finally understand that you were poisoning the soil all the time. You didn't know it. You had no idea you were so virulent. But you see her there, wearing a smile that you did not even know she owned. You catch her radiating and you cannot help but appreciate it for everything it means to her. It hurts like holding your paper-cut hand in a bowl of saltwater. It stings and then it cools; it softens; it heals.
You forgive her for all of her wrongs. You forgive yourself too.
You can let her go. You can say, beautiful woman, you have been hiding things, or building them, I am not quite certain. They are wonderful.
I am happy for you.
And you can mean it.
Like most times in my life when someone hits the nail on the head before I even knew they were going to swing the hammer, I didn't know how to respond. I said, I know, not because I knew, but because I had no other thought to put there. I watched his hands, finishing a sketch of me, sitting across from him, head hung and eyes low. He sketched my hands mindlessly stirring the spoon in my coffee cup. It was black. It didn't need stirred. I couldn't help myself. He knew it, so he drew it. He read me like a book with blank pages and tried to do what he could to fill some of them in. I politely excused myself via a make-believe text message, before the ink could dry. Catalysts. Yeah. He meant well, but I have to make it happen for myself.
I stole the title of this node from Buddy Wakefield's poem "Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars" which he wrote on my birthday in 2010 but Buddy says he stole the line from Reverend Kathianne Lewis, who was actually quoting Alexa Young. We all got there how we may.