Thursday in between one job, my follow up appointment with my neurologist, and my other job, I went for a walk on a trail I used to run frequently. I set my timer for fifteen minutes so I wouldn’t worry about the time and started walking.
I love this trail. Three plus hilly and woodsy miles. Challenging in spots. Back when I was still drinking and I was still running I would go and punish myself with the two big hills- one steep and one endlessly long. On my way I would always look for a rock to pick up because towards the end I would stop at this bridge and hold that rock tightly in my hand and wish. I would wish I could stop drinking. I would whisper intently to the woods and my rock that I needed help please. Then I would look at my rock, squeeze it hard, and gently toss it into the creek below.
I had forgotten about this.
Until the other day, when I’d just been to the neurologist, and she said things like “spinal tap” and lumbar puncture” and “up to you”. I had an hour before I had to be at work. I remembered that this trail was on the way. I had just enough time to take a thirty minute walk in the woods to think on this. Right at the time I needed to turn around I came to the bridge. I stopped walking and went over to the rail. I grabbed it with both hands and took a shaky deep breath. The memory of me, and my rocks, and my wishes came flooding back. I could feel my old self standing there next to me. I stood quiet for a long minute. Then I cried a little, then smiled.
I have been sober for over two years y’all. Right there, in that picture up there, in that spot, is where I wished so hard for myself to hear me, to help me. Below the bridge is the creek that took all my rocks and kept my secret until it was time to tell it, to tell it out loud.
Yesterday a beloved friend and I walked this whole trail. We were talking about some heavy shit, but when we rounded the corner and came to the bridge I said “Wait. I have to interrupt. I have to tell you this.” My face crumpled all up and I started to cry.
“I used to run this trail,” I told her. “And I would be sad, and hungover, and I would pick up a rock.” We walked over to the rail, and held it. “When I would get to this bridge I would wish into my rock. I would wish for help. I would wish to be sober. I would say ‘I wish I could stop drinking’ and I would throw my rock into the water, then watch for a minute and try to hold it in.” I cried harder. “I’ve been sober for two years and three months now. I am a miracle.” I whispered it again. “I am a miracle.”
She grabbed me and held me tight. She looked at me and told me she was proud. Proud to know me, proud to be my friend. I hugged her back, and then we laughed at ourselves crying on this bridge- both of us with our big life stuff but still brave enough to show each other who we are and ask each other for love and support. I said out loud what I hardly ever say: how proud I am of myself.
Sometimes when winter has been too long, and the grey is holding me down, life just really shows up. It shows up as a bridge, a book, a dearest friend. It reminds me of all the good I do for myself, the meaning I give to my life, the meaning I give to the lives of others. It reminds me that I am an important person in this world, that I matter.
I have been doing the things I said I was going to do for five days now, and magic is happening. Whether it’s because I’ve been making it or keeping an eye out for it so I notice when it shows up I’m not sure. But it’s here, every day. I’ve been being the person I wish I am.
It’s all a bridge, wherever you are. There is always that place, that time, when you wish so hard for things to be different. When that voice inside cannot let go of that wish. The thing about wishes is that most of them are ones that we can make come true, you just have to be brave enough to embrace your inner wizard and to remember that you are worthy. No one ever really plans that one moment when wishes start to be real, where you start from a new spot. You only know that happened when you look back, when you conjure your old self and see who you aren’t anymore.
My neurologist wants to do a spinal tap because she is suspicious that I may have Multiple Sclerosis. That day in her office I turned her down. She told me I could change my mind, and I have. Because that’s the thing about wishes- I wish I didn’t have MS. I don’t even know that I do. But I have to look, I have to see, because then I’ll know what to do. It’s just like me wishing I wasn’t an alcoholic- I wish I wasn’t one. But I had to look, and I had to see so I could stop wishing and know what to do. To not wish for wasn’ts but for things that can be.
What I know is this: there is nothing wrong with wishing. Whether it’s with pennies and fountains, rocks and bridges, or in your heart alone in bed at night, there’s a reason that wish keeps coming back. When you get to that place, your bridge where you made your wish, you will know that wishes really do come true. And you will know, no matter where you are, that you are a miracle too.