She told me that my calm and gentle demeanor helped her feel less afraid and that she wanted these qualities for herself.

I wanted to tell her that I often struggled to get from one day to the next; that I felt every nook and cranny of pain and every breathless moment of beauty with relentless intensity.

Since it was not appropriate to share this within the context of our relationship, found my bearings and invited her to say more about her desire for peace and about her fantasy that I possessed it.

Afterwards I walked to my car with the familiar satisfaction of spending my day caring for others. It comforted me to remember that I was walking past other lonely souls distracting themselves with television shows in their homes.

I got home late, heated up some food and ate it at my coffee table while watching Deadwood. I lost myself in that universe that, for better and worse, reflected back to me the relentless beauty and pain in my heart and in the world.

I felt in equal measures gratitude for my life and sadness for the perpetual ache of my heart.

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