Butterflies

Butterflies

“Maybe it’s the curse of modern humanity that pulls us into the cocoon of our own lives. Our salvation is the capacity to reemerge with wings and take flight like a butterfly.”

Sofia writing to Jesse

Date: November 3
From: Jesse
Subject: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Sofia,

When I saw you standing on the ship’s railing that morning, watching the sunrise on the horizon, I couldn’t move. Captivated. That’s the word that describes the emotion that settled over me. Yet it is inadequate. At once I was enthralled, bewitched, mesmerized, enamored, and desperate. Yes, desperate to enter your realm and be a part of your world. I was paralyzed and powerless to continue until I knew whether fate would bring us together or send me on my way. I took a chance and moved closer. You turned and smiled. Did you sense that I was there?

Our ensuing connection meant the world to me. I truly believed love had abandoned me. Early on, the comfort of my mother’s arms was snatched from me. Her death sent me down a rocky path. Feeling unloved and unfulfilled, I made bad decisions to ease my pain. It was a coping strategy that led to heartbreak and, at times, utter despair. To protect myself, I built walls. But barricades keep out friends as well as enemies. Even my closest companions moved on, discouraged by my obstructions, which appeared impossible to dismantle.

That morning, on the deck, you threw me a lifeline that enabled me to scale those walls. And I’m grateful. I treasure our friendship more than you can know. You brought me peace, and I wish the same for you.

Jesse


Date: November 7
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

Your words are beautiful and I’m moved by the poetic nature of your soul. Yet I’m certain the sensitivity that inspired such touching language is the same component of your disposition that compelled you to erect walls. You strive to protect your heart, but yearn for love’s caress or the touch of friendship. Getting close to someone can make you the target of emotional daggers that inflict excruciating pain. I know this. They hurt you physically, like you are being stabbed from the inside. And all feeling—love, trust, respect, self-esteem—bleeds away. Only a dull ache or a burning sensation remains, like embers slowly dying in a neglected hearth.

Sometimes I wonder if our existence demands that we insulate ourselves. We construct a protective shell that keeps us going despite the hurt that comes with interacting with others. Erect a wall? I’ve done that. Friends drifting away? Yes, I’ve experienced that, too. And it saddens me. Maybe it’s the curse of modern humanity that pulls us into the cocoon of our own lives. Our salvation is the capacity to reemerge with wings and take flight like a butterfly.

Meeting you on the cruise ship was a blessing. I never expected that my morning meander along the Lido Deck would lead me to you. I treasure our friendship, dear kindred soul. You’ve wished me peace and I know what I wish for you. And that is happiness and strength of spirit. You can be a butterfly, Jesse, and soar.

Sofia


Date: November 14
From: Jesse
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dearest Sofia,

You encourage me and give me fortitude to pursue love and joy in this world. I think of you and envision a forest where hundreds of monarch butterflies have emerged from their chrysalises and taken flight! I long to ascend as these majestic creatures do. I know it’s possible for me, and for you.

I wonder what circumstances drove you to seek solace within a self-constructed shell. I assume it’s the source of the emotional daggers you described. I won’t pry, but I will listen when you are ready to tell.

In the meantime, I’ll share my story. It was the anguish of a failed marriage that led me to construct my barricades. The untimely death of my mother left me afraid of being abandoned again. Because of my fear, I didn’t know how to love my wife, and she wasn’t able to teach me. She was a practical woman, raised in an environment where demonstrative sentiment was absent. I’m certain she loved me. For her, though, communicating any emotion—tenderness, warmth, passion—was frivolous. And I needed assurance that she cared. Can I learn how to trust someone without continuous affirmation of their affection? I don’t have an answer. I suspect I am damaged goods, and I pray that I am repairable.

Jesse


Date: December 2
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

I like to think, with time, restoration is possible for all of us. Our tissue regenerates, so why not our spirit? When you and I met, I was watching the rising sun as it peeked over the horizon. Early morning is my favorite part of the day. The first light rejuvenates the world. New possibilities abound. Hope is renewed. We have the chance to start fresh.

I doubt you are irreparable. I imagine you feel insecure and unsure of your worth, which sounds very human to me. We all need strong supporters (family/friends/lovers) to help us tear down the fortresses we erect. I don’t think it could be someone who is restrained and hides emotion, but a person who welcomes tenderness and displays unconstrained passion.

I am working on demolishing my own barriers and reconstructing myself. I do this because I’m striving to be happy.

Sofia


Date: December 10
From: Jesse
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dearest Sofia,

Why aren’t you happy now? I want to know. Maybe I can be part of your demolition crew. I have a hard hat.

Jesse


Date: December 19
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

You made me smile, and that makes me joyful. I stopped smiling years ago, when I was in a relationship with an emotionally abusive man. He continually struck me with verbal assaults and put-downs.

It was easy for me to erect a screen and cower because I felt worthless. I believed him rather than believe in myself. Looking back, I think his goal was to crush my spirit and control me. Like I was a wild horse that needed taming.

I wasn’t wild. I was independent. But he broke me anyway. I didn’t realize he was afraid of my independence, and I let him take it away. With help and support, I ended the relationship. Now I’m ripping at my cocoon, tearing it apart so I can emerge reborn and reclaim my life. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find me in that forest of butterflies, learning to fly.

Sofia


Date: December 21
From: Jesse
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dearest Sofia,

Since it’s winter, the monarchs are in Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains. I’ll look for you in the butterfly forest there and bring a picnic lunch. I know you drink red wine, so I’ll select a nice cabernet. I’ll pack cheese and crackers, and grapes, too.

I’ll comment on how smart and successful you are. And you can shower me with tenderness and affection. Together we’ll topple our fortresses, knock down walls, tear apart cocoons, and smash shells.

Are you in? I am!

Jesse


Date: January 4
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

It sounds like a perfect spot for demolition and reconstruction therapy. I love butterflies and cabernet. How about Cerro Pelón at Macheros or Piedra Herrada near Valle de Bravo? Both are in the Estado de México.

We can stay at the bed-and-breakfast in Macheros and ride horses up to Cerro Pelón. I’ve heard this sanctuary is rugged and exceptionally beautiful, with hundreds of monarchs that fill the sky like snow flurries. Imagine a snowstorm with orange and black wings instead of fluffy white flakes.

Are we really going to do this? I wonder if I’m brave enough, even though I long to see you again. The days we spent together on the cruise to Baja California were enchanting, and your letters leave me spellbound. I don’t want the magic to end.

Sofia


Date: January 10
From: Jesse
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dearest Sofia,

I’m afraid, too. Love wounded both of us. On the surface, we may appear whole and unscathed, but the scars extend deep into our souls. Will this liaison hurt us; send us deeper into the abyss of emotional suffering? Or will it lift us up and pull us out of our hiding spots? Life is uncertain. But I want to climb out of the chasm… with you. Allow me to be your ladder. I’ll be strong for you. The butterflies await.

Jesse


Date: January 12
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

I have nothing to lose but my fear and my insecurity. Shackles, be gone! I want to soar… with you.

Sofia


Date: January 12
From: Jesse
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dearest Sofia,

Will you meet me in Mexico City on January 23? We can stay at the Hotel La Casona near the Fuente de Cibeles and explore the city. From there, we’ll travel together to the bed-and-breakfast in Macheros. It will be magical, I promise.

Jesse


Date: January 13
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

Yes! I feel more alive than I have in the past 15 years. You have awakened my heart and I want to experience it all. Life, love, passion. Can I wait ten days to see you? It seems like an eternity. Yet I know that once we’re together in Mexico, the days will pass in a flash, as though we set time around us to fast forward. I won’t even think about the conclusion of our adventure and returning to everyday life.

Sofia


Date: January 15
From: Jesse
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dearest Sofia,

Why should our adventure end? Must we go back to our everyday world? As we explore Mexico, let’s examine ourselves. Maybe it’s time to discard our previous lives. They brought us pain and sorrow and sent us into hiding. I want to emerge into a new life with happiness and love. Don’t you?

I have a proposal. Let’s book a one-way ticket to Mexico City and plan our trip as we go, in the mornings, at first light, when new possibilities abound and hope is renewed. We can start fresh every day over café con leche and conchas. We’ll stay as long as we want. Forever, maybe. Who says our adventure can’t be our everyday world?

Jesse


Date: January 17
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

My knees are shaking and my heart is pounding. Can I plan my life from moment to moment? I just don’t know.

Sofia


Date: January 17
From: Jesse
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dearest Sofia,

You can do it. We can do it. Together.

Jesse


Date: January 20
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

I’m sitting at my computer, flooded with anxiety. Am I strong enough to click on the confirm button and book the flight to Mexico City? I don’t know if I’m embracing an adventure or running from reality.

Sofia


Date: January 20
From: Jesse
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dearest Sofia,

I booked my flight. I will be at the Fuente de Cibeles at noon on Saturday. My greatest wish is to see you there.

I understand the feeling of running away. I am running, too, but not from my previous life. I’m running toward a new life. I am running toward you.

Jesse


Date: January 21
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

I’m so afraid.

Sofia


Date: January 21
From: Jesse
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dearest Sofia,

Whatever you decide is okay. You are on your own timeline. The butterflies will be there next year, and the year after that. I’ll wait for you.

Jesse


Date: January 21
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

I’m still sitting at the computer, and my heart is ripping apart. I see the confirm button, I want to press it, but my hand is paralyzed. I wish it wasn’t so hard for me to let go of my fear.

Sofia


Date: January 21
From: Jesse
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dearest Sofia,

When you’re ready, you’ll be able to conquer your fear.

Jesse


Date: January 22
From: Sofia
Subject: RE: Cruise to Baja California

Dear Jesse,

I sat for hours staring at my computer screen. I thought of you, our time together on the cruise ship, and our correspondence these past few months. The more I pictured your face, the closer the cursor moved toward the confirm button. And I did it. I booked my flight!

I’ll see you tomorrow at noon at the Fuente de Cibeles. Hasta mañana.

Love, Sofia

Check out the short story, “Butterflies.” Will Sofia and Jesse find the relationship they’re searching for?

Written by Allorianna Matsourani
Copyright 2020


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