I found the Garden of Eden. It is located along the Potomac River in Maryland, just two blocks from my childhood home.
Great Falls Park has always just been the park down the street. Yes, it’s beautiful. Yes, you can walk or run or bike and in the winter you can even ice skate. But it’s always been ordinary. Until the day I discovered in it the Garden of Eden.
The air was unusually crisp for a usually-balmy summer afternoon in Maryland. I’ve been dating him for two months. He lives a few blocks past Great Falls. We’d meet in the middle, he’d bring his dog and I’d bring mine and together we’d talk through the forrest. Wind our way past the gold mine so abandoned even the informational placards look ancient, down along the streams and over fallen trees.
Sit on a log, let the dogs run, and forget for a moment that just a mile away cars buzz around us. That on the other side of the forrest is a world that does not always understand us. I could sprint and in a only a few minutes, I’d be at my parents house, face to face with people who don’t know about my orientation or about my relationship. Family I am scared to tell the truth to.
We sit and talk. Laugh. Hold hands. Release hands. Kiss. Stand up and carry on the walk.
We had back toward the road, back toward reality. As we emerge from the park, hand in hand, I notice a bird perched upon the weathered wooden sign at the entrance. Living between two worlds—the world of the forrest and the world of the suburbs—the bluebird nevertheless looked right at home.
And in that moment, that’s how I felt. Ease. Hand-in-hand with my boyfriend. Emerging from a forrest where he was my only concern in the world to a life a full of concern.
We cannot stay in the woods forever.
The hand in my hand was just as natural as the bird on the sign. I looked over at him and smiled. This time with new eyes. I knew in that moment what Adam must have felt when he looked upon Eve and said “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, this is the helper I choose.”
It is not good for man to be alone, and until him I’d be living alone. Alone in my own head with the weight of my own reality always pressing down on me.
Is “it” a sin?
Am I an abomination?
Will my family and friends still love me?
Can I ever be happy?
Will I ever have a family?
And I looked at him and I knew—I just knew—everything would be alright. The summer would end and we would go back to school on opposite coasts and life would lead us apart. But I will always be thankful that we’d found each other along the journey of life.
Every time I visit home and drive past Great Falls Park, I think of him and my own personal Eden.
And it is good.