I'm not sure how one letter can sufficiently describe, explain and thank you the way you deserve. But I will try.
On lonely drives home from a 16 hour work day, your mountains reassured me that something better for me is planned- that I'm not just some piece floating in a bigger picture, rather, all of what I do and say matters because I'm not just the punchline of some emotionally unavailable man's blog entries. I'm not a secondary character in my own story. Your grandness, your unwavering silhouette the backdrop to my growth as a woman, as a spirit, as a light that will never be put out.
On a clear day, I could see forever stretched out into the horizon. Yet I could understand there is more that is not visible in the physical sense, more of a knowing feeling that is weighted heavier than seeing, touching tangibles. Nothing made sense like the vision of something better and bigger than I could handle most days. But you were there to cradle all of that without the expectation of anyone ever sharing that load. It was yours alone, we could all live within the shadows cast into this valley. With our lights as our way of showing you we are still here.
It wasn't until I looked up into the darkness near Thruway exit 16 that I finally saw the lamps lit, the stoves burning and the life you offer. The chance to be who I was all along, the bravery to not hide it and the fear I need to keep moving and keep changing and adjusting. You saw my biggest heartaches, losses, illnesses and stoically stood as my friends drove me home from the psych ward through the dimly lit back roads of Ulster County when I was just 21 years old. I have had to move on from many people, but never this place. I didn't have to fight to feel at home, to make it so I belonged or felt comforted. It just was.
The towns I lived in reflect off of the river you overlook. The waters that so many authors and poets wrote about- a romance with currents and clay deposits. The crew teams I could see practicing when I would pass over the bridges, the lighthouses for the barges and mermaids. The skunks that musked the wooded trails, the bears that found their way to neighborhood trash bins and the Bald Eagles' nest in the old oaks near the tiny creeks that break from the river.The reservoir and the waterfalls, the flooded marshes and morning fog that settled over roads surrounded by fields and meadows. The families of deer that curled up on the city lawns of Poughkeepsie and Kingston, and the hawks that shrieked and swooped down over the Shawangunks.
The love of craft beer and farmer's markets, and eating my own homecooked meals. The lesson that cooking for one is not at all depressing and seeing a movie alone is liberating. The love of love and all things beautiful and moving and emotional and passionate. The local music and art on display in dive bars. The brunch I waited in line for at bistros, the county lines seamlessly flowing through you and your mountainous shadows. The clouds kissing mountain peaks and rolling above the Metro North tracks. Without you, I would not have had to cry alone and solve my own apartment utility malfunctions. I would not have had to wait by myself for tow trucks or in doctors offices. I would not have found the best way to carry all of my groceries in from the car in one trip. Would not have learned all of the words to the songs on the car radio or listened to many audiobooks on 40 minute commutes to work. I would not have picked up a paintbrush or golf club and never would have roller skated on a derby team.
I would not have been "Amy" or learned how to love, live with, then leave a long term boyfriend. I would not have survived what seemed like insurmountable heartbreak. From your heights, I looked down into the protected valley. I climbed up to Overlook Mountain and found the temple, guiding me with prayer flags to my hardest, most important decision to leave you and the people that have embraced my imperfect intensities. This life would not have been this fulfilled if it wasn't for your shelter. That's why I can never thank you enough. I can only ask that you remain as inspiring, forgiving and peaceful. I have many friends I love that I am leaving. Please continue to give them opportunities and allow them to dream.
I will turn my back on you now, because our time together is over. We will meet again, me even better because you let me go.
Be. Here. Now.
All is love,
7 years ago