All is on a breath of wind
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
“… And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave,” the band played into the spring night. Warm gusts of wind raked through the fields under a sliver of moon and pushed empty beer bottles across the concrete patio. Table cloths flapped at the edge of the lighted square, as if they, too, were waving goodbye to Molly. Friends danced and swayed lazily. A Hula-Hoop made the rounds and we all smiled at each other, knowing things would soon change, as they always do.
Molly is leaving in less than a week to spend more than two years in Ghana, Africa, as a member of Peace Corps. It has been a longtime ambition of hers for which she has worked tirelessly. Happy for her as we are, however, many of us in the valley are going to miss her … and probably worry a little, too. After all – for my social group, anyway – Molly and her family have played a large part in making the good times happen. Her going-away party left a feeling in my chest, a melancholy voice gagged by my stretched smile that things will always be different from now on. Oh, she’ll come back to us, I’m sure, but we’ll all have more layers to us then.
There are some moments when I’m perfectly aware that I’m giving another chunk of my youth a sweet kiss goodbye and it’s these that are so bitter-sweet, to be savored and remembered as bookmarks in a story line. There are many forms of graduation ceremonies, big and small, and each one is a formal acquiescence that our lives are changing and there’s nothing we can do about it. Change is so much friendlier to those who embrace it.
Though I went to high school with Molly, I didn’t meet her until last year, through mutual friends. Naturally it was at a barbecue complete with slack-lining, fire dancing, music and laughs. We sipped beers while watching sunsets. I said goodbye to her lovely long hair before she buzzed it off hours later. I flirted with her at farmers markets. I taught her some things about rock climbing, and she taught me some things about friendships between men and women. She has been a great friend. Many others would say the same.
Wishing a companion a safe and happy journey is not for the selfish or weak of heart. How many of us would hold on to someone if we could, prevent that person from following a path simply because it leads them away from us, rips us away from a bit of security? It takes courage to follow your heart, which is why each time I go to a friend’s wedding or going-away party – even a funeral – I try to leave inspired by their courage though I mourn a loss. Ultimately we all travel through this life alone except for our intangible relationships to one another, as if only air connects our spirits into one.
The warm wind blew like a thousand breaths from the gods that night at Molly’s party. I felt it was already carrying her away from us, like the notes that drifted into the darkness on the farm by the Colorado River. Sailors do not linger on where the wind is coming from, though – only where it is taking them. Perhaps their courage comes from the words of their loved ones that fill their sails and remind them that we are all always connected in a single journey across this present moment, for everything shifts like rolling waves, sculpting the earth. All is in motion, all is change. May we all grow together by playing our parts in a great song that drifts along into the future, which becomes present, which becomes past and then all over again, always one.
The local band – All the Wild Horses – picked the perfect song to end the night. I wish I could remember who does it, but it’s the one at the end of “The Big Lebowski,” where rolling bowling balls crash into pins over and over again as the credits scroll. So on and on it goes, Molly. Nothing is the end and you’ll have all the courage you need so long as you remember those notes and the sound of crashing bowling pins, and remember your friends and all the laughs still on the way. Vaya con dios.
Derek Franz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Roaring Fork Schools volunteers who have already completed a comparable background check through an approved entity would be good to go.