A Time Of Discovery

Strangely enough, the shirt came to me. As if it were always meant to be mine. It was a brand new, green plaid flannel. It came into my life at a time when I was beginning a journey of self discovery. When I think of myself during this time I am always wearing that comfortable green flannel shirt. It still hangs in my closet today, waiting for the next journey.

The shirt showed up one day on the coat rack at work. I figured someone would be back to claim it. I watched and waited. Three weeks later when it was still there, it became mine. Every weekend my shirt and I would head out to the woods. Away from all the temptations that modern life offers. Parties, men, even money had left me feeling empty. I love the solitude of camping alone. I spent hours walking through the woods, my shirt offering warmth and protection. The turmoil that had always been a constant is quieter here, suppressed by the overwhelming sense of life greater than mine. The smell of pine trees, earth and water never cease to calm and refresh me. Every evening I build a fire. The fire and my shirt warm me as I ponder my life. Out here I do not feel alone or afraid.  Feelings that have been with me through a husband and numerous lovers. Each weekend I come closer to the  knowledge that true happiness and strength come from inside.

Now there is no pull from my former life. I move to the woods. A rustic old cabin on the banks of Canyon Creek becomes home. It is nestled at the base of the Cascades in northern Washington. No longer do I spend my evenings in search of a new high or a face that could love me. Now I am truly alone. I have never been so at peace.  Each day I walk my dog for hours. My flannel offers its protection against the elements as I walk and  reflect on the past. Every morning I sit on my balcony and drink my coffee. The balcony faces east overlooking the creek. The sunrises are beautiful here. The air is so fresh. My flannel is over my shoulders to keep out the morning chill. There is no more peaceful time of day. As the sun warms my face, I realize, I am free. No one defines me; no drug binds me.  I am in love with life.  Every night the sound of the creek lulls me to sleep. I have never slept so well. The rushing water seems to drive all worries and fears out of my head. It is dark here at night. The darkness makes me feel safe, comfortable with my surroundings. If loneliness does occasionally creep in, I just put on that now worn flannel and I am comforted.

There is a new life growing inside me. A whirlwind affair with a deceiver has left me alone again. But not alone as before. I drag that old flannel out of the closet and wrap it around my body.  My old friend again offers me comfort. On my bed I cry, endless days of tears. A close call with miscarriage makes me realize how much I love this little new life already. The sun starts to shine again. Now on my walks I ponder the future. I know myself so well now, surely I am strong enough.  There is plenty of love and space in my heart for this child. Maturity has taken root in my soul this past year. Gone are the times of my life I wouldn’t want to raise a child in. Having never expected to be a mother, I am now surprisingly filled with maternal love. A love like no other. When fear gets the better of me, I reach for that soft flannel. It offers me strength for this new journey.

Life is a long journey. As each new road begins, I look back at what is behind. Now bringing with me the lessons hard learned and my old friend. The embrace of an old friend, warm and comforting. Those are the images in my mind as I put on that worn flannel shirt.  Soft and faded, even ripped in places. Yet still durable enough for the journey.


Note: This was originally written in 1999 as a WR121 assignment.  My son was 2 at the time.

Now he is 19 and has recently moved on to continue his journey.  And that old green flannel still hangs in the closet…

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