Six years ago I made a decision that equal parts changed & saved my life. Looking back, I can’t imagine any other choice, or path that I could have walked. We sat in our shared dorm room on graduation weekend – the theses had been turned in and all that was left was accepting our diplomas and getting on with our lives. There would be no more working through pots of coffee and bottles of wine to crank out 35 page papers, no more residencies in rural Vermont, no more workshops & seminars to attend. “What are you going to do?” Emily asked. I knew how she meant this, wholly and broad, generally with my life. I considered her query earnestly – I had moved from Utah back to Connecticut where I’d lived, sort of contently and miserably, for the last 18 months. I had wanted to close the gap on a long-distance relationship, one that would prove to fail but ended amicably. With that over I was just serving at a restaurant where we worked hard and played harder. I was careless and irresponsible, and I treated my body more like a garbage dump than the temple it was.
I don’t know if Emily could sense me flailing or she just literally needed help paying rent. “One of our housemates is bailing,” she started, “We need to find someone to take her place ASAP and I just thought I’d ask you before we put it out there because I want it to be you.” While I’d been dreaming about going back from the time I left, I found myself frozen in that moment. How scary it can be when the thing you wanted all along is suddenly sat there in front of you. “I think you should come home,” she went on, “What are you even doing in Connecticut?” A million answers I didn’t want to speak lay on the tip on my tongue. Drinking. Sleeping around. Biding my time until something else presents itself. I agreed to move in right then and there.
For the third time in my life I got rid of all my worldly belongings, including a metaphorical purge of all the negative bullshit I’d been doing to numb myself. For the weeks leading up to the move I went for long runs in the park and took yoga for the first time – I wanted to arrive a better version of myself. Driving across the country felt final, I didn’t reckon I’d be making this trip again, and it was 100% business. I initially thought doing it alone would be incredibly taxing and difficult, and it ended up being one of the best things I’ve ever done. I didn’t stop at any points of interest, nor did I see or stay with any friends along the way. I didn’t use it for introspection, to question my life or even life’s greater meaning. For three days, I thought about absolutely nothing. I sat with myself and then decided that if you can sit with yourself for three days, and feel okay – then you’re good to go. Because if you can’t hang out with yourself, then why would anyone else want to?
I arrived May 30th, 2013. In these past six years I have lived several different lifetimes and been broken and put myself back together more times than I can count. I have known intimate friendships, love, absolute heartbreak, and immeasurable joy. I’ve brewed beer, experienced loss of family both furry and flesh, had panic attacks in the office of my therapist, put on different masks and removed them. Remember Emily? I married her. Not like personally, but I watched her live her very own fucking fairy tale and then I officiated that shit. Just call me the Reverend. I’ve watched the black pigment on my dog’s face grow frosty which has given her the nickname “Ghost-face,” which obviously morphed into “Ghost Faced Killa” because much like the Wu-Tang Clan, she aint nothin’ to fuck with. I said goodbye to my cross-country traveling cat Penny and I’m not sure I believe in soulmates but if I do – I met mine. She even loves the parts of me I don’t love about myself.
I found myself crying both days of the weekend and Bridie asked: “Do you need to be held?” I shook my head no, because being held meant stopping and stopping meant thinking and when I think about it I get sad. I’m afraid to talk about it because talking makes it real, and I also don’t want to cloud or minimize the fact that I’m excited. Bridie does multi-day trips and the reality is that we get to Idaho, she’s gone for six days, home for one, and then gone again. But I want that one day, I need that one day. The thing about finding your person is if there’s any option to be close to them, you make it happen. To be able to touch her skin and drink her in for 24 hours is worth it for me, and I don’t want to simply hear about the adventure anymore – I want to be on it with her, whatever it takes.
This move has been coming for quite some time but the future is only far away until it’s not. While I distracted myself with a gnat infested 6.9 mile hike on Saturday and entire bike riding extravaganza ending at a gay bar yesterday, I know I need to allow myself to stop. I need to feel and I need to cry. There is such importance to your discomfort, and healing in the process of giving yourself permission to fully experience that. I need to let the giant alligator tears roll awkwardly down my face and neck and realize that they mean I created something beautiful enough to deeply care about. That I wrote a story in the last few years packed with so much emotion, bliss, and an ever evolving cast of incredible characters that it’s breaking my heart to think about not having it at my fingertips anymore. How lucky I am, to have something I will miss so much. In the words of Ernie Harwell, because I have emoted and spoken to my capacity for the current moment:
“It’s time to say goodbye, but I think goodbyes are sad and I’d much rather say hello. Hello to a new adventure.”