I hand it to her and she rolls it over in her hand and asks me what it is. I explain that my newest hobby is collecting stones and crystals and researching the metaphysical qualities and histories of each glittering rock and pebble, some rough, some polished, their genesis, their lore, their mysticism. We sit on her back deck steps, the stoop, we both call it; she, using a term from her homeland, and me from growing up in an area that was originally settled by great farmers from her homeland, many hundreds of years ago. Some of the streets still bear the names of the settlers, although my hometown is now as ethnically diverse as New York City (being so close to it) and the denizens don't know any of those people, no memories or legacy save the signposts. She rolls it around and around while I look at the stream at our feet behind the giant clay Buddha. We're both barefoot, painted toes in muted tones of green and blue for me, and cherry red for her. I look up into the sun. Where I live, an hour away, it's pouring rain, but here the ground is dry and when she arrived a bit late for our appointment, I seized the opportunity of escaping the stuffy office by suggesting we go out for some fresh air one day and she said, 'Let's do it now', and here we are.
It's a black tourmaline, called schorl. I tell her that it's hers, but she has to pass it on to someone else who needs it. It's a balancing stone, enhances energy, releases tension, removes blockages. More importantly, it removes negative attachments. I ask her to give it to a patient she might think needs it. Someone who might be in love and needs to and wants to be released, and her eyes light up with comprehension and she says, 'I have someone in mind'. I said, 'I know. I dreamed of this conversation last night. Tell them that I have the sister stone. Whether they're a man or woman, tell them I am their sister too.'
I hand her another stone and tell her that this one is for her, alone. I've already cleansed and activated it and it belongs to her. I knew it belonged to her the moment I saw it and after it was in my possession, I further researched its history and my intuition was correct that it was meant for her. She holds it up in the sparkling sunlight and asks me what it was called. I put down my water bottle and say, Hollandite, the Blessing Star and yours is extra-special because it's a Lightbrary stone, meaning that the main stone, the master, mentor or teacher is surrounded by smaller crystals that cling to it in a cluster, rather than push off in opposite directions. The smaller stones are students, disciples, acolytes, etc. The stone alone is full of the energy of joy and laughter, and balance, and as a Lightbrary, full of wisdom, like her. She tells me she's never seen one and I said, 'They're extinct. A vein of them was found in another stone mine and has never been found again. Whatever is out there is all there is, so it's pretty special, like you. It's not payment for anything, but a token of gratitude and affection.' She tells me she loves it and I can tell she does. That was in the dream too. I told her that a long time before we ever met, I was told that an older wise woman resembling her would counsel me and someone together and although they were wrong about that person and I even said, not possible because he lives in another country, they were right about our working together and she chuckled and said, 'It's so funny the way the universe works.' I agreed and updated her on the goings-on with the latest shenanigans of the ex. 'Well, your decision is very mature. You've grown a lot.' My eyes cloud over and I watch the whirlpools in the water. The cicadas serenade us.
'Are you crazy? Really, what the hell? Are you going to do anything?' We're sitting in a pub in Port Jervis because she forgot that her favorite tiki bar is closed and she's disappointed. I'm overjoyed we're able to catch up and it's contagious because she's happy again. I'm asking the waitress if the mussels are any good. She interrupts the server to tell me their nachos aren't so I shouldn't trust the shellfish and the woman looks at me and says quietly...hopefully, 'We sell a lot of them every night. The steamed clams and stuffed clams too.' I take a chance and order the mussels. 'No...no....I don't intend to do anything about that. He wants me to react. I feel more sorry for her.' 'Tell me honestly, did you feel a pang of hurt when you saw a pic of them together?' 'Honestly, I felt nothing.' It was true and it felt good. The food arrives and the mussels are green New Zealand, my favorite and so pristine without a single grain of sand. The marinara sauce is full of fresh basil and garlic and I listen to her grumble as she delicately picks at a slice of bread like a piece of rich cake. I notice the window box is filled with basil and remember my grandmother's garden and how the largest plant, she had nicknamed, The Dragon. I suck down the mussels, the sauce a perfect balance of hot and sweet and I haven't had mussels in so long, it's like finding an oasis of luscious flavor. I took a chance and it paid off. 'So let me get this straight....you left the courthouse and went straight to the tattoo studio?' 'No, I left the administration building and went straight to the tattoo studio.' 'And you got a tattoo?' 'Yep'. My mouth is full of garlic bread. I grin anyway. 'Can I see it?' I twist and show her my shoulder. She pulls the fabric aside and gasps. 'Wow. I didn't expect it to be so pretty and I didn't expect you to ever get one. You just went in and got one just like that?' 'No, the week before I stopped in after I picked up a sandwich at the deli and wanted to just ask about a price but I was kind of impressed that the artist looked like Jerry Garcia and he was speaking cryptically, so I started speaking cryptically and just when the flirting got good, I turned around and told him I would be back, so I went back.' 'Did he remember you?' 'Not at first. But he remembered the word and then he remembered me. He said it sounded like a cleaning solution you use at the Vatican. He did it in ten minutes and then I went to therapy and she was more shocked than you are.' We both laugh and I dip an onion ring in ranch dressing. 'But it will always remind you of the sadness, that you were set free.' We split the bill and step outside into pouring rain and walk quickly to the parking lot nearby. 'No, we see things differently. It will always remind me of the freedom that I was able to set them free.' 'Okay, I'm going to text you tonight to look at that thing....' I make a mental note to myself to never order the Riesling there again, it was that bad. 'Okay. Love you.'
The text surprises me. As usually agreed, I call her but I'm delighted and later even find an old voicemail that I somehow missed. She tells me that usually I'm always there when she looks for me and she's a bit unsettled that today I'm.....not and where the hell am I, what the hell? I laugh while listening and my father asks why I'm laughing but I shoo him off. She was looking for me, it would appear, a week ago, and I remember that I needed her and was crying. She responded but by that time I had bounced back and was proud of myself of that new ability. I can live and work and play in the same place with someone I once loved. I'm remarkably okay all things considered. I recall our conversation last night or the night before and she had asked me how I came by the nicknames I gave him and how he came by mine, if it didn't bother me to talk about it. She always wondered about the name Spooky Oats and I said it didn't bother me to talk about it but when I started talking about a pink unicorn I became quiet and she said she was sorry. I was holding a beautiful polished carnelian that Wonton had rejected in favor of a golden healer sunstone which was bought for her anyway and I thought what a clever girl she was knowing what was hers and what was mine. She rolled her stone around the floor and I admitted to myself that I'd had the carnelian for two days now and already had an affinity for it and as I looked at it, talking to my friend on the phone, I saw a unicorn with wings, a pegasus/unicorn and laughed because I didn't believe the shaman who read my animal totem wheel and told me that pegasus/unicorn was one of my totem animals, as was a dragon, come to think of it, well, four dragons, four directions, what did it mean and I burst into tears. 'I shouldn't have brought up the nickname thing' 'No..no...it seems I got my unicorn after all.' I explained and she asked me to take a pic no matter how bad it came out so I did and now it's somewhere in a Facebook album. My grandmother asked me who painted the unicorn on the rock and I tell her God, Mother Nature, the Universe. My cell phone however keeps dropping out and she asks me how I feel looking at his name, seeing his picture. She warns me to stop mentioning him, that it feeds his ego. I don't care. How fragile an ego that must be, then. I tell her I feel nothing and it's true and it feels good.
Her burr is not as thick as I'd imagined when we spoke on the phone and Yamz even went so far to say at times it's incomprehensible but I think that could be chalked up to too much conversational wine on both sides of the Atlantic ocean and besides, I grew up living with immigrant grandparents, and my siblings enjoyed being a mini United Nations, marrying people from distant lands and languages so I have the unsung talent of clearly understanding the thickest accented English but today it won't be needed in a private message. 'Do you want me to delete the fucker?' Actually, it said much worse but the point's been made. 'No..no. It's unnecessary, but I love you for caring.' 'I want to say something. I feel like I should say something, call him out or something.' I told her not to bother. If he never responded to anything I said, he won't respond to anything you say, and it's over all over, let it end here and now. I'm not a victim. He has his own demons to bear but that little turd who added him, him, I wouldn't mind you eviscerating.' She asks me again if I'm sure and I am. And I'm happy.
When I first began dating the one who I shared ten years of my life with, he would run up the side staircase, two flights and knock at the door and I would delightedly run to the door and stand there and whisper, 'What's the password?' He would say, always, 'Password' and I would say, 'Awww come on, play with me.' He never did. I think he was incapable. He didn't know how. No matter what I wanted, he couldn't be that person, didn't want to be that person, and never was that person who would play with me. I was mistaken and it would be a mistake I would make again, looking and overlooking but never quite considering what I needed and wanted and couldn't ever settle for. No matter how much love I had to give, there was something that I was forgetting in the process--myself. Everything I wanted was for them, every dream their dream and none for me.
Because the ex has someone in his life who is curious about me, and has made several overtures to at the very least, know what I'm up to, I preemptively changed my passwords, all ten revolving words, which also revolved around the men I loved, names of hometowns, nicknames, inside jokes, meaningful then, meaningless now, except as memories. Now I've picked out exactly what I should have chosen all along. Words like the one now on my shoulder, meaningful to me and not as some proxy or projection of my undying love to someone who hasn't earned it and has lost a treasure, whether they know it or not. Life is too short to shed tears on the undeserving when you can be celebrating it with those who embrace you with wide open arms.