The food is fresh here, as is the air. There is a man in a tent, his name is Robert, and he makes shoes by hand. He gives them to everyone who needs them, which isn't many people during these warmer months when we all prefer to walk in bare feet. Robert has so many stories from his own Before, and he tells them, punctuated by the clang clang of his hammer. On my off days, I can often be found at the mouth of Robert's tent, listening and mesmerized.
Please do not be jealous. There is nothing romantic between Robert and I. My intent is not to send you these anecdotes that will make you itch with rage, but with gladness. I am finally happy. I have found a home, a peace that I could not locate out there. We are advised not to reach out to our Befores, as the human race is safest without the knowledge of time travel. What good is it to revisit? To potentially mar any more than what has already been done. But there is something I cannot shake, something - the only thing - that can distract me from Robert's stories or the quiet mornings alone in my tent, tracking the air's rise in temperature. The week before I left for good, you turned over in bed and said to me, "You are better than I ever could have expected." I could tell from the way you said it that you meant it as a compliment. You meant to say, "You are the best wife I could have ever hoped for," or "Thank you for all you do," or "You are an amazing woman." But as words are often the very obstacle to their own meaning, you did not. And I laid there, in our California King bed wondering if I was any better than I expected. If you were. If our children, our home, my job, our routine, our life was better than I ever could have expected. And it was the answer to those questions that led me here. I have found my home and, I hope, in my leaving, that you will, too. Thank you for stirring in me what had settled, for reminding me of what was down there, what had been, and what could be again.
Send the kids my love.