After a year apart, I'm in the homestretch now, just a week away from being with friends again on the Pacific coast. Close enough now to be thinking about it a good portion of the time. Close enough to feel like I'm coming apart a little at the seams.
Have you ever noticed this phenomenon? When you are in sight of an opportunity to let your hair down, suddenly hair pins start spontaneously popping out on their own accord. Locks fall in your face, and as the pin-popping trend continues you start to look tousled and disheveled. What is happening, you wonder. I've been holding everything together so famously for so long. But that's just the point. You know soon you won't be required to, and the part that's been holding in its breath can't help but start to exhale in little bursts at the sheer anticipation.
I can't be a mess when I arrive. Deep down you're worried about the embarrassment of being seen in such a state: human. Full of paradox. Grateful and grieving. Lost and found. But you cover it up with thoughts like these: What if someone else needs to fall apart, and she needs me to be the strong one? This is the kind of justification you always use to keep your own experience at bay, so you don't have to really inhabit it.
The truth is, no one needs you to be anything. You will be all that is needed simply by being present. By being there.
You know this is true about these people, and this place, and it makes you wonder if it could be true in the rest of your life, too. If the coifed hair and held breath are ever helping, or if they are just encouraging others to do the same.