Most people run from treachery. Most people run form the notion of emotional turbulence and potential heartache.

I’m not most people.

For me, Trent “Blade”, was the very first thing I felt that wasn’t pain. He was the first thing I felt that didn’t break my heart. He was scary, and  intimidating,  and  completely  mysterious……… But he was in no way a reference to the pain, or my previous   loss. I had to know him. I had to. I found reasons to go to Skitzy, several times over the next two weeks, until finally, I flew up behind a grader, and saw, sitting in the operator seat, a tattered hoodie, and a dirty ball cap. I slowed the truck and didn’t pass although he moved over when he saw my approach. My hands trembled as I touched the screen on my phone to text;

“Is that you in front of me?”

I watched intently for him to move, or shift to grab his phone. I couldn’t be certain it was him, but I had a pretty good idea. The glare from the snow reflected back off of his windows at me, and   I couldn’t see any distinctive movement.

“Who is this?”

“Carrie, the safety girl in the Gray truck behind you.” “YEAH!!!! It’s me!!!!!”

I giggled out loud, and then went cold. What do I say now? I  know nothing about this guy. Nothing. He’s  married  for  all  I know.

“Alright, well I was just going to hit on you if it was.” I casted the bait……waited  for  a nibble.

“You were, were ya?”……. Grammatically perfect. Hmm……and ambiguous all the same.

“Yup, unless your girlfriend is going to beat me up.” “ha-ha, I don’t have one of  those!”

I jerked the line, set the hook.

I bounced up and down in my seat, forgetting momentarily that he was twenty feet in front of me. I stopped immediately and stared hard at his seat to see if he had turned to see me acting like an infantile teenage girl. He didn’t seem to notice.

I bantered back and forth with him for a few days, texting and talking. He asked a few times to come and see me, and I held   him off. It was during the time I had Hunter and I didn’t want to relinquish any of it. He was patient, and understanding. He had children as well, and knew how it went. We began to develop a relationship that was initial curiosity that melted into respect.. Although, I don’t doubt for a single moment that I loved him the second I saw him on the grader, on the top of Skitzy, in the snow flurries. My relationship with Trent is identical to a  weld.  Two pieces of cold metal, tacked together from the  first time  I saw him. The hope is that, the tack. The rest is prep work while you figure out your next move, and adjust your settings to make the root pass. I wanted to cut through the bull shit, and I had little interest  with  being  a  cheap  lay.  My  intimacy  and  emotional issues were evident and up until I met him, I had no interest in seeing or  being seen by anyone.

He referred to me as “impressive” and “captivating” not terms  used by a man looking to get laid. Those came out as “sexy”     and “hot.” He talked to me about issues that seemed intimate regarding his life. He told me secrets I knew had only fallen on   my ears….a rare glimpse into a man complex, and entangled together with me. I was honored every  time.

“I’d invite you over for a beer, but that’s a little forward…..even  for me.” I remember texting it. I remember wanting to be sure I didn’t come across as cheap, or easy. But I wanted to see him. It was a dangerous position I hadn’t found myself in since I was a single….and a teenager. I had never felt like this……. I  sat perched on the fence that defined the space between wanting something so bad you ached, and not wanting it so much you burned with fury. I was comfortable in isolation, I knew what to expect. I was comfortable in “alone” and being independent. I   had something to prove, and a man in toe, was not something I needed. But I wanted to see him.

No makeup, hair undone. Pajama shorts, and a maroon zip up hoodie. I sat on my couch, playing my guitar, when he knocked  on the door. I was nervous to the point of being sick. He’s really here. Suddenly, following the initial knock it dawned on me that I should have put more effort into looking attractive. Who was I to stand here, stripped of all of my masks, and face this man. This man who made me feel……something. My bare feet tip  toed across the kitchen floor to the back door, and I put my hand  on the door knob. I took a deep breath, and put my head on the door….hoping I was enough. I straightened my back, flipped my hair over my shoulder and opened the door.

Standing on the sidewalk of my make shift home/apartment was   a man I had recreated in my mind numerous times throughout   my life. He was quiet and stoic. I remember looking at his boots, square toe and worn. I loved them. I loved them being on my porch, standing in front of me under a star lit sky.  I traced the   line of  his jeans up his body and  fell  on his white pearl snap  shirt, unbuttoned down two buttons, endearing and sexy.  I  moved across his chest and broad shoulders, I fell  on  his  neckline and the necklace I had made note of on the mountain. Perfectly shaved jaw line, and a manly goatee. Thick lips, perfect smile, dimples and gentle eyes, white ball cap…… pulled down low.

His dimples deepened when he smiled at me. I went weak. “Hi”……..

I grabbed the door frame, suddenly devoid of all composure. All intelligence drained out of my body and all that was left is an exposed girl, in front of a man, jolted by the notion that something far outside of my control was happening.

“Hey, come in.” I turned and walked into the living room.

“Ok.” He said, his voice a little shaky. I immediately felt better. Maybe he was nervous too.

I sat on the couch, and grabbed my guitar, hiding behind it. He   sat on the opposite couch, and my confidence took a hit. Maybe  he was just being respectful, I hoped.

We talked for a few hours, I played a few riffs on my guitar, and watched him intently. He was quiet and almost  shy,  in  a contented and strong type of way. He came across as brazenly honest when he told me a little about him. I clung to his words  like a starving child biting a fresh peach, his thoughts dripped  from my lips and ran down my arms, stunning my mind. After what seemed like no time, and an eternity all at once, he said he should go. He stood, his boots a foot from my pink bare toes. He hugged me. And left. He  just……..left.

I watched his lights shine through my window, turn and vanish. I was stricken with fear that I may never see him again. I wanted more than anything, to beg him to stay. Pride and sanity held me back.

None the less, it was the first breath of fresh air I had taken and the notion of him leaving forever plagued me. It appeared,  through our conversation that he may  be  capable  of  withstanding the hurt I shielded the world from. My hurt. He seemed uninterrupted in his actions at the  mention  of  my  history.  Maybe he could take it.

Please stay.

I hadn’t made it back to my guitar hiding spot when the phone beeped. I hastily grabbed it…….opening the text.

“I should have kissed you.”

Was all it said. “Yep.”

“I didn’t.”

“First kisses are critical” I warned ….hopeful he would just come back.

“I agree.” He said. “But I should have kissed you. I wanted to.”

“I would have kissed you back.” I said,  almost  giddy  by this point.

“I’ll drive back right now.”

I looked at the clock, 1:30 a.m.

“I don’t want you to get tired and crash.” I was being sincere. I didn’t want that, but I would have been ok with him coming back to kiss me anyway.  He didn’t.

“Can I see you again?” “Yes, when.”

And so started our first pass; the root pass of our relationship, falling ass over tea kettle in the ideology and concept of each other. In the ways you read about, but never seem to quite get to. Trent became my strength, and weakness. He became the source of misdirection, love, and perplexity that existed in the most hostile grief, a welcome distraction.

Over the next year he oversaw my life changing tremendously, while we learned to move together and mesh two worlds that relented…… God we tried. Unforeseen hurdles defined us for the first ten months, anything from his inability to trust women following a traumatic marriage, to my terror of being loved by anything or anyone. Cohesion of the children, and meshing of schedules proved time and time again to be taxing, and more   than once we ran out of welding rod. Turned off the welder and stood back for months at a time and looked at the two sharp  edges that remained individual pieces, with nothing  between  them but empty space and “try.”  But God we tried. I couldn’t    give up. I refused to allow the idea that my life would sustain    any more loss. I refused. Time  after time after time we would  grab a new rod, kick on the welder, turn up the heat, and burn it deep. The root was all that mattered at this point, we could hone our  top  pass  in time, make  it  shine.  But for  now,  burn  it hot, make it stick. It took a year to finish that pass. It took a year to grind down the barriers between us and make a clean fusion. And the end of the day, my jagged edges fit his perfectly and given the time to breathe and steady our hands we have found that regardless of try, you simply can’t weld together a piece of Damascus steel, to a piece of aluminum. Our demons have learned to play nice, and together we made a piece of art, sculpted with respect but independent in our existences. It was my unwavering commitment to evade loss and death that held us together.

The role this man plays in my life is that of the convoluted hero. By no means is he perfect, he is absolutely flawed. I believed for   a long time that he was the only person who could sustain my emotional burdens without internalizing them. I never wanted to make someone I love hurt. I learned that emotional distance is  just that,  emotional distance.

I am in awe of my own attraction to his vacancy. I wanted him, in part, because he didn’t….couldn’t….and refused to love  me  wholly. I saw in him, myself reflected. I wanted consistency without the fear of hurt. We cut each other deeply and left each other reeling and broken. We  defined  our  relationship  on  trial and error and learned as much if not more about ourselves than  we did about each other.

I need someone to be empathetic when I hurt. It’s called love.  And for as apt as I am in the art of loving everything  and everyone that I come in contact with, receiving it is the battle I face now.

My mind argues that allowing someone to love you could potentially result in their own vulnerability being exposed, and the risk of pain at your expense. My mind also argues that the barricades in place, to protect myself from that same hurt is a realistic response to the pain the loss of my son caused, and continues to cause.

But when I sit back and contemplate the saving grace of that    loss, I have absolute clarity in the fact that I am tolerant of it simply because I have no regrets. I am able to move forward because I never missed an opportunity to love or be loved by my son. He was forever changed by my love, as I was from his. We didn’t waste a single moment. The tremendous impact, from someone  who  is  willing  to  both  give  and  receive  with  me, is something I will cherish. Never, will I take it for granted. Never  will a second be wasted. I will never reside in emotional vacancy.

I had grown tired of vacancy.  I had grown tired of being “strong.   “

I had proven my “strong”, now what? I took the time to define what I was, and in a rough format came up with the  following:

I am barefoot gypsy soul, a little crazy, and  impossible  to  control. I am hard headed, and often “too big for my britches.” I am a world changer, and have more  piss  and  vinegar  in my pinky than most people have in their whole bodies. I am cold  steel, red silk, and black lace. I am chest deep in the river, committed to the bend that I KNOW the big trout is in, not a  single bite, freezing to death, but full of hope. I am deep back country- covered in camo, face to face with a bear, and I keep going back. I am a survivor.  I’m honest. I’m too smart for my   own good. I am beautiful in my own right, and an activist for   inner beauty. I am country as dirt, and a big night sky spackled with stars. I’m sweet tea from a mason jar, and a front porch rocking chair. I’m gun powder and an un-struck primer.

I believe in people, in a way that I can’t communicate  fully….words do me no justice here. I see potential in them, and ache to see them  through.

I  have a broken heart,  and that will  never change.

I am honest and intelligent and unique. I am  genuine  and  sincere.

Every day I love with my whole heart. I love truly. I love deeply. I love everything.

Whatever part of me felt the need  to  prove  myself  is quieted and at peace. The war I raged on the world in order to show my valor; is now wiser and more humble. I’m brave enough now to admit that in addition to wanting and deserving love, I do, in fact………  need love.

My condemnation of need has created barricades in most of my relationships. But I no longer view the instinctive neediness of humans as weakness of the mind or spirit, in fact, I view it as ultimate strength. There is definite courage in acknowledgement and admission of need. It leaves you vulnerable, and exposed. It provides the other person an incredible amount of power, and ultimately, it all boils down to trust. It is the figurative act of handing someone your heart and saying, “Here, hold this.” Hoping, they put it in their pocket…..and keep it forever.

It takes a tremendously strong person  to  withstand  the abrasions of the shards of glass my heart remains to be. It takes  a courageous person to hold it anyway. But by no means are my shards a burden, or something I am not proud of. Like a prickly pear cactus, its beauty would be lost without the spines. The individual who can  conceptualize  the  stunning  realism enveloped within me will be privy to true unconditional love and acceptance. I know no other way.