"Everyone's wrong", she said. "The real problem with life is that you don't get to choose who loves *you*."

January 12th, 2015, 10pm

It was 17.8°C with scattered clouds. The breeze was light.

She kept no attachments. Sentimentality an affliction of the weak. The unable-to-move-forward. She absolutely had to be able to pack up and get out at any time. She loved the feeling of slipping away and relished the evaporating tactile memory she left behind in the skin of other people’s hands. She needed to capture their desire and then eat their need for her in little bites. It was a sickness. She knew that but it’s warmth was a force against self doubt.

She left me over and over. She left me for minutes and quietly walked away. She left me for weeks when she had a plan and a map. She would leave me for seconds sometimes when something else tugged at her attention. I hated it each time and regardless of the length of her departure I felt it just as acutely. The energy of her focused light fortified my esteem so swiftly. It was a sickness. I knew that but the firmness of her attention under foot was such a force against the instability of my own self doubt.

We spent an afternoon on Baker Beach describing the people in our past who we had loved for any length of time. Each story started with a descriptive sentence describing the most irritating, interesting, or physically identifying part of that past love and the length that it had lasted.

The sky was crystal blue. There was no moisture to diffuse the light which made it harsh. The shadows in the sand were sharp. There was some wind coming in off the Golden Gate but if you kept your body low the warmth stored and reflected from the sand was enough. You just had to stay low.

This also meant that our words were hushed. Moving around only in the area between the sand and the wind rushing off the water and up the beach into the city. The limited space constrained not just our words but also built a feeling of privacy. It was real and slowly, with the help of some provocative questioning she started to open up more than I think she would have normally. Her inhibitions were lowered. She was intoxicated with trust. The closeness manufactured by the intimacy of our stories and the wind rushing overhead kept her in that emotional space and from her mouth, as a whisper, came the most alarming insight.

“Everyone’s wrong”, she said. “The real problem with life is that you don’t get to choose who loves you.”

Read more stories like this one: JohnMcAlester.com

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John McAlester

Adventure dad, writer, Content Strategist @canirank

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