I’ve crawled down that street everyday, going on two weeks now, in search of hope. I drive slowly, at a snail’s pace, barely breathing. To my right sits old money and, to my left, even older oak trees. I make my way down the esplanade, eyes focused on the tiptops of those tall trees. Trees that hold decades of stories they’ll never tell.
One of those stories is about a girl. More specifically, a girl in shambles, who wore open wounds and a camera. Now, if she had her way, she’d romanticize the story and replace the pathetic with the poetic. But, the trees don’t lie, and they know full well there’s nothing even remotely romantic about her story.
For months they watched her, damaged and lost. They heard her silent pleas and her not-so-silent cries. Some might even claim she blew her nose on her sleeve a time or two. (Lies.) They’d look on for hours while she sat in her head, watching hope rebuild its life out of nothing, desperate to do the same.
The trees shook hands, placing secret bets on this girl. Some thought she’d come out the other side whole again. Some were sure she’d just come out more broken. And others didn’t care one way or the other, only engaging periodically with deep sighs and even deeper eye-rolls.
Months went by without much change. Then one day they noticed it. It was subtle and could have easily been missed, had they not come to know her so well. But they did know her, better than anyone else, because beneath them was the only place she dared expose herself completely. Slowly, this girl began to smile more and cry less. With her shoulders no longer hunched, she was taller than they’d once thought. As her black and white world slowly turned to color, her face began to glow. Then one day she laughed so loudly it startled them all. And she hasn’t stopped all that much since.
She’d come out whole.
The losers paid their debt to the winners. And, though they wouldn’t admit it, the ones who didn’t care one way or the other even cracked a small smile.
Yesterday, as the sun was settling in for the night, I crawled down that street once more. Having just about given up, I began picking up speed. As I neared the end of the esplanade and was calling it a night, I finally saw what I’ve been searching for. Hope.
Two black crowned herons perched atop those same tall trees. They were the babies I said goodbye to last year. I’ve thought about them countless times since, constantly hoping they’d beat the odds and make it back to me – whole. And, they did. I can’t wait to to welcome the rest of them.
I fell out of my car gracefully and ran over to them.
Hi guys! HI! Welcome back! And thank you. THANK YOU.
I stood below them in that very same spot, now a very different girl. Alone, but not lonely. Unsure, but not scared. Whole and full of hope.
I said goodnight, then sat in my car for sometime crying now-happy tears. Some might even claim I blew my nose on my sleeve a time or two.