I was having a random conversation with a friend recently. He’s the type of friend perfect for my favorite type of conversation- the rambling one. You know, where you talk for what seems like 15 minutes and forever at the same time and, upon conclusion, you look back over the past couple hours and wonder how you got from topic to topic and realize you said things you never even knew you were thinking. If you have no what I’m talking about you need to immediately go find someone who excels at this art because, trust me, you have no idea what you’re missing. Anyway, back to my original point! It was in the midst of one of these ramblings that we began to talk of sunrises. Now, no matter who you are, there is no denying that there is something absolutely powerful, profound, and yet completely simple about a sunrise. It’s beautiful and breathtaking. The feeling of watching pink and orange and red and gold break over the horizons is one totally unreal and totally unable to be duplicated. We spoke of sunrises for a few minutes, of the beauty and pure enjoyment of them, and it got me thinking about the many moments in my life that have been defined by those rays of color filling the sky.
The first major sunrise of my adult life took place in the desert somewhere between Nevada and California. It was 2005. I was a very new 19 years old. Asleep next to me in our battered little rental-I was lucky to get one at all-was my husband of about four or five hours. We had just gotten married in Vegas. That “what the hell did you do?” feeling was still a few months away. Driving him back to Camp Pendleton, I watched the sky explode in a way that it can only in land touched by none but God. I felt so in love, so sure, so confident in what I had just done. Forever had just begun. It was maybe the last time I can vividly recall having complete and total trust in someone, feeling so secure with my heart in someone else’s hands.
A few months after Vegas I packed everything I could into my little Cavalier and made the drive from my parent’s house in Florida to my new grown-up house in North Carolina. Jacksonville, North Carolina to be exact, where we were to be stationed. I drove all night. The sun broke as I drove down Highway 17. I wanted to cry. I was exhausted, frustrated, and reality was definitely kicking me in the ass-not to mention my cat had expressed his displeasure at the move by peeing everywhere about 30 minutes in. But, still I felt good. I felt strong and accomplished. Funny how that handful of emotions was going to be the defining feeling of my life for the next several years.
As my married life went downhill, the rest of my life seemed headed up. I enrolled in school, and then in another. I was working two jobs. I was making friends in a brand new place. But I was avoiding the biggest issue in my life and eventually there came a time when I knew I had to confront it. No more lies, no more make-believe. He was away with friends for the weekend. I drove to the beach and sat there all night. When the first hints of amber touched the sky, I had no tears left. I was drained but I was finally at peace. It was time to move on. I had tried and, though I felt like a failure, I knew this was not the time for excuses or blame. It was time to say goodbye.
Life moved on-it always does-and I moved forward.
December 12, 2008.
I watched the sun rise from my bed in a hotel room in a small town just outside the even smaller town of Buies Creek. I was graduating. Funny how, even after being on my own for so long, there is something about putting on that cap and gown and that makes it feel like life is starting all over again. It was probably the biggest feeling of accomplishment to date, knowing I had succeeded at something I had put five years of my life into.
Since then, there have been many more nights that have somehow turned into mornings.
Some have been good: the ones seen through the windows of a 24 hour restaurant after a night spent eating pancakes and talking to an old friend, and the ones seen through beer hazed eyes around the remains of a bonfire after a night of laughter and fun.
Some have been not so good: the sunrise seen through m y little bedroom window as I sat on the floor wondering why the someone I loved so much, the someone who slept peacefully in my bed, couldn’t bring himself to commit, to be faithful.
And, I’m sure there be many more in my future. A night of sleepless excitement before my business opens. Perhaps another wedding day. Good times, bad times. Friends, babies, funerals. Tears and laughter. No matter what life has in store, there will always be sunrises, always be reminders that today is a new start, a chance to change everything or maybe just live for the moment.