At some point, maybe in my sleep, maybe when I was waiting for the streetcar, maybe when I was making tea, the river started to shift.
I didn't notice it in any large portion, no sudden shift. It was slow to maneuver and re-direct, but it softly turned and did so with purpose. I wish I could replay it now, see it, but I will take feeling it. Feeling it has changed who I am, the ways and colour of my blood, the form of my muscle.
There was a time where the current funnelled me into believing that to give of myself was weakness.
It made me breakable, like a stick.
It was at the whim of one that my fate was decided and it was excruciating.
What do they need me to be?
What is going to guarantee they'll stay?
What can I do to make them happy?
I associated sacrificing myself, a smorgasbord to be picked from, with love. Even now, writing that, feels like grazing a bruise. It's all still there, still right under the skin. My old ideas of love.
But what would happen is that the song and dance exhausted me. And then they would leave, so not even my most golden traits or treasured jokes were held safe.
I would dehydrate in pain.
The current ran deep.
Over years, even deeper.
But then I started rummaging around for the truth.
In my sleep, waiting for the streetcar, while making tea, my heart scavenged for truth all along the riverbed and in the depths of the water.
As I lifted rocks and shimmied them over or chucked them aside, what I started to uncover was the worth in who I really was.
It was months and months of earnest rock hauling. Lifting and moving the ones with all my habits racing under them like ants, the ones so heavy I thought they were just a part of who I was, the ones hiding convinced insecurities and the ones that made me attracted to the same kind of guy.
Meanwhile, Jesus took His time, as He does.
He would sit by the river, his toes engulfed in tight water and minnows, while I broke a sweat and wiped my brow or sat nudged right into his armpit.
Some days I would wake up and stumble down to the river, sleep still locked into my eyes, and during the night He had moved a big son-of-a-bitch one, one I had nearly given up on. Then I would weep in the relief of its absence, like a cleared artery that finally felt fresh blood again.
Other days I would look down the river and He would be there, sometimes I imagined Him fishing, but whatever He was doing, He would smile.
And He would wave.
If He was pretty far, He would cup His hand around His mouth, yelling, "Good morning!", but if He was closer, He would shake the water from His feet and take me into His chest.
But at some point in the last month, He's been working around the clock.
I have felt it.
Every morning, the river would be re-directed by metres instead of inches, the water pacing differently, the sun hitting it all strange.
Last week, He motioned for me to wade in and held out His hand as I found my footing on the sharp and uneven bottom. The current was stronger, some real thrust behind it, and it was going somewhere else now.
I gripped His hand and stood waist deep in surge as He toured me through the changes,
"That's over here now, this works better there. Feel that? Sturdier here and here," His foot tapping rocks way under.
He talked with His hands a lot.
Then He explained that I wouldn't need to get out of the water to go tap dance and make noise to prove who I was anymore, to prove I was worth loving. After all this toil and work and blistering the shit out of my hands, I would now know to stand with Him in the middle.
The current of who He made me to be holding me fast.
He had, over all this time, built strength and solidarity into my limbs, confidence into my ankles, unassailable spirit into my shins.
And everything feels different now because I'm standing there with no giant urge to go dance and orchestrate some show.
I don't need to.
I don't want to.
The proof of who I am is in the river.