It was like this, but different.
Sometimes at another age, in another time, you fall in love through a single picture and countless words, across continents and oceans, through languages and logic. Sometimes you sense the magic long before you meet. You conjure past lives and fated futures. More often than not one of you is batshit delusional. But sometimes there is the one chance, the one place—you’re both right.
And when at last you meet, the reality is more intense and exciting than your wildest dreams. Nothing ever since comes close. And you discover it's true—love never dies.
Oh, it hibernates. And you’re well aware of the sleeping bear in the cave. You become as familiar with the shapes, shadows and sounds of his slumber as your own breath. The constant lull of his slow, methodical heartbeat pulsing your blood. You recall the memory of his medicine at a moment’s notice.
Maybe you carry the cave with you down the aisle. Plant flowers at its door. Maybe you forget to water them. Maybe vines overtake the mountainside, entwining your heart with overgrown tangles of thick deadwood and strangled greenery, encircling your wrists like handcuffs, stuffing your mouth with leaves. Maybe you forget what freedom feels like. Maybe you don’t.
Then one day, out of the blue, you hear soft grunts and rumbles. What’s happening? Shhh... Don’t interrupt. Just experience the miracle of how in one single big bang of an instant the bear opens his eyes. How the impossible happens: a shift in perception that you did not invite, engineer or plan. How time collapses, vines disappear, leaves dissolve. No past, no future, no in between. Only—
That night you dream like you’ve dreamed once before, of a love so urgent and a connection so strong that upon awakening you’re shaky and weeping. You squeeze your eyes shut. “Take me back,” you whisper-plead, as if it’s possible to will yourself anywhere but awake. As if you’d even want to deprive yourself of this first fleeting taste of sweet water after a drought lasting one-third of your life. You’re too old and—let’s face it—too tired to be greedy.
You know what enough is.
What you feel is the vulnerability of hope. The cool welcoming air of an empty moonlit cave, walls decorated with hieroglyphs—love letters written by the bear. You plant flowers at the door. You water them. You bring a candle inside the cave. You smile. You wait. Your feet have never known where the path leads, but the undeniable siren song of your journey grooves on the unknown.
You know there’s no other way but to let go, explore and love more deeply.
Maybe the bear goes with you. Maybe not.
Maybe that's not the point of this story.