Moonlight on the Marginal Way at Midnight


I had never been on the Marginal Way after dark. I’m not even sure it’s technically allowed, but when you reach a thirteen-year crux in your journey, when you reach a point of desperation and momentary unhappiness, you don’t tend to care about such things as danger or wisdom or police. No one was on the path that wound its way along the shore, high above the riotous sea below.

There were no lights on the Way. Only the brightness of the full moon, directly ahead of me, drawing me onward, pulling me toward something I couldn’t quite see. Like most of those telling moments of confusion, I didn’t feel the least bit frightened, not at the physical circumstances at least. In truth, it was a foolish thing to do, and in the proper mind-set I would never have walked it, but I did. And I didn’t care.

At a few turns, my mind raced, more with wonder than worry, over what might be around the bend. A thick misty fog was all around, half-falling and half-suspended in the thick air. Whatever night creatures were about, or whatever menacing forces came forth from a full moon, stayed at abeyance. I walked the way in solitude. Slowly, as usually happens, my anger dissipated, replaced by a weary sadness, and the slow, morose desolation that comes after hurting someone, and being hurt.

Venturing down to the shore, where the sounds of crashing waves overwhelmed everything, my feet skidded but somehow kept me upright – the dress shoes from dinner being a poor choice for the rugged Maine shore. I briefly contemplated going in, feeling the chill of the icy night sea, flirting with the deceptive undertow, anything to jolt some sort of change, some kind of reaction, something to head off the deadening drone of time. And then the expanse of it, the power and might of its relentlessness, the fathoms of unfathomable darkness, roiling the sand and stone, scared me off. I shuddered there at the shore, damp in the mist, stung by the sea, and it was enough. I walked back to the lights, to the quiet town that now slept, to the still and empty streets that I’d only ever seen populated with throngs of merry-making tourists and visitors. To the room and the bed where my husband slumbered. To the life I had made for myself – for us – and, always at the end, to sleep.

Some couples, when asked about the secret to their everlasting happiness, say they never go to bed on an argument. That’s ridiculous. I’ve gone to bed on many a dispute. I’ve walked out of the house and stayed in a hotel. I’ve left mid-discussion and gone to the movies. For us, a little time apart works wonders. It’s not whether or not you go to bed on an argument, but whether or not you wake up still mad; the trick is what you do in the morning. Do you let things go (as we often do) or do you continue the fight? Resolution is good, but sometimes not resolving every minute detail is a resolution in itself. A relationship should never be done. They grow and evolve like the people in them, and I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.

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