The Roads We Take

Original photo by Masha Raymers

It was the same sentence in countless variations, fittingly said to you by countless variations themselves:

“Speak to me your tale, traveler,” stated wistfully, on the calm firmness of a calculated breath.

“What’s up with you?” spoken cheerily, with an air of optimism and enviable peace.

“So . . tell me about yourself,” mumbled awkwardly, a burning arrow shot hopefully into the darkness to find another flame.

“You ain’t from around here, ain’tcha?” muttered snidely, as if everyone stayed in the same place forever.

“What’s your story?” asked respectfully, a glimmer of reverence for the world not seen.

Eyes of every color stared into your own. Their face was like and unlike every face you had ever seen. All in the same, they smiled and frowned, laughed and scowled.

They stoked the fire, or turned on the heater, or brought a blanket over their shoulders. Food was served, fresh in its own way of freshness. Flavors were bountiful, textures played with your tongue, and temperatures flowed like the embrace of the seasons across the land. Your stomach found respite.

“I’m not from around here,” came the words from your mouth, more or less to that effect. “I’ve been on this journey for a while now. It’s been hard, and I’ve had quite a few struggles. But I’ve made it past all of them and I’m here where I am today. I’ve had just as many good and great experiences as bad. I intend on continuing my journey.”

They shifted in their seat or leaned on the other foot or remained perfectly still, cutting through their food or wiping their hands on their pants or cleaning their lips with a cloth. “What are your goals?” came the question for which it is expected there be an answer.

“The same as yours,” you said. In the end, your words were true. Always were.

They nodded or provided a shake of the head or gave no indication at all of a response.

“But different, too,” you or they clarified.

You or they nodded or provided a shake of the head or gave no indication at all of a response.

The day or night continued with the hallmarks of human rest. The air danced in the warmth and excitement of the spoken word. Food found new forms and homes, still thrilled by the sudden vibrance of its recent life. In between the pouring words and rejuvenating food and deserved sleep and trivial labors, some sliver of the world blossomed in a way that is like none other, yet is the case with us.

Spirits long lonely within a singular form frolicked about, joyously celebrating with one another, happy to be free. They gave each other gifts of dazzling crystals and delicate leaves and old collectibles and forgotten relics and helpful maxims and beautiful melodies. They showed their harshly-earned scars and glimmering scales and pithy tattoos and gentle wrinkles and damaged hearts and healing minds. They danced, oh how they danced with the dancing air! The words that soared through the partying crowds were their fuel, their ichor.

The universe was a symphony of beauty you never knew. The world not seen, nor heard, nor felt.

Tired from their exhilarated fun, bounded in a joy that echoed hollow in their singular forms, the spirits returned, accompanied by gifts and love and wonder. The complexity of passion burgeoned inside them, a magical flame much akin to the stars above. The stars and their countless variations.

With every fibre of your being you attempted to identify that inexplicable spark you felt flickering within, to understand what and how and why it was. It felt as if you could see it in the flames crackling before your eyes, or in the reflections shimmering on the car window, or in the night’s citylights mimicking the cosmos, or the intricate, enchanting irises of the person with which you shared this single experience of countless variations.

You looked at this person. They looked at you.

“It’s good to talk to someone,” came the words out of your mouth, more or less to that effect.

“It is,” they agreed.

What are your goals? The question for which it is expected there be an answer.

The same as yours.

But different, too.

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