Across The Border

Entry by: Alobear

15th September 2016
A deepening darkness through the trees - mysterious and comforting. It was difficult to imagine that London was only a few steps from where Bradley now stood. The screen of trees blocked the city from view completely, protecting him from its noise and bustle. Tranquility reigned here, a peace that papered over the tears in his soul, making him wonder if it might heal at last.

He had thought that crossing the Atlantic might put enough distance between him and what he had left behind. But London was still too similar to where he had come from. It was the trees of Regent’s Park that had given him the first inkling there might be a real new beginning here. He followed the paths away from the main road, until he felt truly alone for the first time in what felt like forever. There was air enough to breathe again, at least until the park closed for the night.

Once he had left the last of the other visitors behind, Bradley chose a bench and folded himself onto it, letting out a huff of breath into the evening. He felt himself relax bit by bit, until he started to feel the stress finally leaving his body.

Los Angeles seemed a very long way away, though his actual departure hadn’t caused as much of a wrench as he had anticipated. He had decided a clean break was a better option than trying to tie up all the loose ends. They flapped behind him still, and he yearned to release them so he could truly start again.

Not saying goodbye to Daniel had been the only part that was painful, and that wasn’t a surprise. Daniel would have tried to understand, but he would have been - most likely was - desperately hurt by the revelation, and Bradley knew he wouldn’t have been able to confront that head on. Bradley realised that made him a coward, but he had rationalised that this way was ultimately better for both of them. Daniel could blame him all he liked, and Bradley wouldn’t have to try to explain.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love Daniel anymore; far from it. They had shared what must have looked like a perfect life from the outside. They both had good jobs, a vibrant circle of friends, and each other. What more could anyone want? And yet, just at the point where Daniel was expecting Bradley to commit to their future together, Bradley had cut and run, trembling with the intensity of his need to get away. Everything about their relationship had been assumed - and he had gone along with it, deceived by friends, family, and the wider world into thinking it was what he wanted. He could admit to himself now that it had been easy, and comfortable; questioning his desires, as he had found out the hard way, could only lead to heartache and impossible decisions.

Daniel had been safe, had been home. But Bradley knew it wasn’t a home he wanted to stay in forever. He needed to find himself in a different way, in a different place; and so he had left. The last thing he wanted was to hurt Daniel, but staying would have hurt him more in the long run. It was better this way; it had to be.

London was supposed to be alien, exciting, new. Bradley had changed everything about himself on his arrival here - what he wore, how he spoke, the type of job he took, the friends he cultivated. And yet, at heart, nothing was really all that different. People were still people, work was still work, one city street looked very much like another. The changes were only skin deep, and all the doubts and insecurities still thrived in his mind.

Bradley’s new persona was just that - a show. He still wasn’t being true to himself, despite everything he had done to change. He knew what he wanted, but he was too frightened to really grasp it and make it a reality. He had taken the first steps towards his new self, but it hadn’t yet taken root in his psyche the way he had hoped. He knew there was still work he had to do.

Nature grounded him in a way nothing else could, so when the park had called to him, Bradley had answered eagerly. Now, he could have been miles outside the city, and there was space to think and consider his next move. He concentrated on his breathing, letting the world around him retreat and allowing him to focus on his thoughts and feelings.

This was where he was supposed to be. The decisions he had made were the right ones; he just needed to forgive himself for the way he had left Los Angeles, otherwise he would never be able to move forwards into his new life.

He had crossed borders, both geographical and existential, and there was no going back. He needed to let go of his old identity as Bethany and stride into his new future as Bradley. Only then would he be able to find peace.