“No, I am not broken.” This thought crosses my mind when I am packing up my belongings again. The movers arrived and we are loading my few possessions into my SUV. “I lost so much and yet I gained a lot,” another fleeting observation startles me as I carry the boxes through the doorway. On my way out, I glimpse at the house that I used to dwell in but never felt mine. For the last time, I gaze at the garden I loved and spent many hours tending it. A rose bush, jasmine and passiflora vine tenderly wrapped around the fence will stay behind as a testimony of love that once lived here. I close the garden gate, walk away and start the engine.
I revisit the thoughts that were stirred earlier as I drive to my new place. “No, I am not broken,” again reverberates through my mind. In fact, I am convinced that I am stronger than ever. I have trusted, loved, risked and got damaged in the process of life but I never quit, I never gave up. Each time, with a naivety of a seventeen year old, I invited this guest, called love, into my heart. Each time my heart got scarred and sometimes it took a long time to put it back together. I pieced it with a rope, band-aid and covered it with honey. It healed and it looked better than ever. I felt as if my scars gave me a deeper perspective on life. This time, however, I am adamant for the first time to trust again. I park my car and start toting my boxes upstairs to my newly found refuge overlooking a pool. It doesn’t matter my new place has no garden; I know I can make any place beautiful. Indeed, all I need is the safety and freedom to be just me.
I open the door of my new apartment and glance at the stark-white emptiness of the walls. I sit in the middle of the uninhabited room and start opening a box I brought with me. It contains a beautiful teapot and a teacup among other things that are still waiting to be unwrapped from a tissue. They survived the move just fine and not a single piece is broken. As I place them on the kitchen countertop I smile in anticipation of many future moments of joy that these pretty objects will bring me. I already envision the artwork, books and my plants in this space and it doesn’t feel cold and uninviting any more. I know I can start spinning my dreams here. Then I pause…
I notice a moth trapped between the kitchen window and the blinds. It twirls in an insane jig trying to free itself from its entrapment. I contemplate the analogy between this insect’s flight for freedom and my own. “Must all my relationships end like this moth’s struggle,” I ask myself in bewilderment. This is a common denominator that runs through my adventures in love – I end up feeling controlled by my partner. The moth is still hysterically beating its wings against the indifferent pane of the window but its dance will soon come to an end. Exhausted, it will fall and die. My own quest to remain free has always led me to break the relationship with the men I loved. There is no greater pain that anyone can inflict on me than make me feel small and control me. And most men I have been with tried to do exactly that. I feel suffocated and unable to breathe and I beat my wings against an invisible window like that moth. Today, I realize I am so weary of that battle I don’t want to do it ever again.
I go back to my car and start bringing the rest of my boxes. As I am opening each one I become aware I am unpacking my life in front of my eyes. “Does being a woman mean one must always surrender,” I ponder even though I already know the answer.
Each of my past lovers offered me the biggest gift he thought he could bestow on me, “I will give you freedom to be who you want to be.” Yet, the stronger his assertion was the bigger lie it turned out to be. They meant freedom on their terms. I would be free as long as I followed their rules. I would be loved and cherished as long as I didn’t question their behavior, revolt or show my emotions. The truth is that freedom cannot be gifted, at least not in today’s world. It lies deep within one’s soul.
While I might be confused, uncertain or not ready to exercise my independence it still remains my birthright. If you are a man looking to give me a gift, I will gladly take a pearl necklace from you but not freedom since it never was yours to grant me. I will take my liberty to walk away as soon as you make me feel less than I am. I won’t settle for anyone who wants to control me and I will rather be alone.
I gaze at my porcelain teacup sitting in my new kitchen. Its round shape tempts me and I decide to take a break and leave the unpacked boxes on the floor. I boil water, pour it over the tea leaves and wait for the tea to steep for about three minutes. Once it reaches the perfect temperature and aroma I pour it into the teacup. As I take a sip I savor the rich bittersweet taste of solitude. A wave of strange contentment ripples through my body and I smile. I will cherish the good memories we made together and will try not to dwell on the bad ones.