Have you ever read The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon? Stephen King sends you into the woods with his 9 year old fledgling, and together, you become ever so lost, diaphanous terror tickling your skin like the swarms of bugs hanging, a living pendant, above the marshes. And then you stumble backwards into the very real possibility that there is something in those woods with you. Something not mammalian or reptilian or insect. Something sinister. It follows you. It toys with you. It wakes you from a dreamless, perspiratory sleep. Ever just behind, ever just out of sight. And somehow, you begin to wonder if it never meant you harm at all, or perhaps salivated at the delightful thought of eating you, ripping your flesh and gnawing your bones, osseous splinters for toothpicks, and then, had a monster’s change of heart.
And then you come upon a clearing. And a fence. And a forgotten road. And you think, before you collapse, that you just might have made it out, soul and hide and bones intact. Bruised and scabbed and a little unsound of mind with it all, but also, an adult.
Those woods are a metaphor for life, for growing up, and growing in, into ourselves. This week I’m staring down my 32nd confection aflame, and I think I’ve finally come upon that clearing. And that fence. And that road. And there, in a tangled undergrowth of summer brambles, making way for Autumn goldenrod, myself. I found her. Tucked, a mess of limbs and knowing, just past where my child eyes could see. She stands then, brushes dried leaf bits from her tangled mane, and she takes my hand, and she shows me who she is. Who I am. Who we are. She gives me a map, she whispers into my ear. Her breath is hope, confidence, wilderness dew. She knows where we’re going, and she knows how to get there.
So, here we are. And I’ve never felt braver, or more sure of myself. Every person I turn to in life, and those I’ve come to know through this blog have helped me to get here, to this grassy place at the edge of a New England forest. You send me the kindest of emails at the moments I wonder if this wild idea should have stayed an idea. You come and you visit and you comment and you read, and you take these words with you. It’s trail mix when the going gets rocky. You inspire me with your blogs and your confessions and your successes. You propel me forward when my sneakers get stuck in the swampy mud, wrested free from my feet in the name of walking forward, always forward.
So, here we are indeed. This is the year. This is the year I will continue to put my heart into this blog, and grow it, and tend it, and water its roots.
This is the year I will buy a professional camera body, and the glass to match. This is the year I will invest in myself. This is the year I will turn the earth, plant my lifelong love of imagery and light in concert telling stories, and grow a photography business. This is the year I will belong to myself.
It only took 32 years, but I found her – or maybe, it was she who found me – laying in silent wait until I was ready to see her, know her, take her hand and walk… down that road, and out of those woods, flung out behind us into the wilds of the place where Maine rests calm against New Hampshire.