Image: Literally the largest smile I managed in a week visiting my family in Chicago back in March. Wow, was I a DRAG. But Mom and sisters look great! Thanks for playing photographer, Dad.
Two months ago this past Friday, a man I love(d) deeply broke up with me. Out of nowhere. Nearly three years gone in a night, two of them living together, and poof. I’ll spare the reader the details my family and friends have suffered all too repeatedly and graciously, but suffice it to say that, though I still don’t understand it and still feel sad and hurt, in my more generous moments, I’ve concluded he didn’t quite know what he wanted or could manage out of a good relationship, perhaps even life. He had this stubborn wall around his heart that prevented him from loving me well or even letting himself be loved as well as I loved him. I’ll always hope he works to break down that wall. The world would be a better place for it. But I can’t and shouldn’t do much about that from where I sit now…. I think I’d like to leave it there.
Meanwhile, I have cried more, and more uncontrollably, than I ever have before in my life in the last couple of months. I have gone to work and done very little work some days, done incredibly much work others. I have seen friends. I have visited family. I have journaled. I have cleaned and reorganized the apartment, hung a few new things on the walls. I have binge-watched the new season of “Master of None.” I have overeaten. I have undereaten. I have drunk too much wine and danced around my living room. I have written a thing and read it before a generous room of strangers (god bless Hugo House’s Works in Progress open mic).
More than anything, I have tried to dream up a new story for myself out of this. Wow, that sounds nice. Read: I am distracting the shit out of myself with a new hobby and fantasies of running away. Er, pedaling away. Yes, that new hobby is biking. Or “bike touring,” as I’ve gathered from the pages and pages of books and websites I’ve read to educate myself on what I’ve determined will be my escape hatch in a few months’ time.
Yeah, I’m going to do that thing where I dump all my earthly possessions and stable-ish life and job and friends and home, and I’ll go on some indulgent, soul-seeking trip because I can. (“Like Eat Pray Love?,” one of my friends joked. “Ughhhh,” I cringed.) No, I’m kidding. I’ll put my stuff in storage (see? I’m not too crazy) and yes, quit my great job with its phenomenal coworkers (mkay, a little crazy), and ride off into the sunset with little more than my hot-off-the-presses memberships to Warm Showers and the Adventure Cycling Association and my paltry car-camping-derived knowledge of how to be in the out-of-doors. Yes, seriously.
Apart from that, I carry some privileged identities like:
- being white,
- being a woman (this can cut both ways),
- having a very able body,
- being straight,
- being cis-gendered (meaning I identify with the gender I was assigned at birth),
- being a US citizen,
- speaking fluent, unaccented English,
- not suffering debilitating mental illness,
- having a store of savings,
- having supportive family and friends, and
- probably lots more that I don’t even know to name.
All of those identities let me walk through the world, and specifically the United States, more safely and less pre-judged. In the case of being a woman, while I could be more at risk of being physically overtaken by a stranger, I am also more likely to be offered help by everyone from law enforcement to nice church ladies.
So, here’s the thing: I have no kids, no pets, no mortgage, and suddenly no partner. I was already detaching myself from Seattle in preparation to move with that partner to Portland for his new job. So as much as I love Seattle and hope to return to this gorgeous cleave of city between two (two!) mountain ranges, I feel strange trying to reattach to it just now. And while I doubt I’ll ever again find coworkers and an organization like the one I work for now, I can’t let fear of that loss direct my compass just now.
Finally, and really most centrally, I have to change the story of this moment. It can’t be: I had this humongous shit sandwich handed to me when I was expecting a BLT, and I simply ate it and smiled and continued on my way. I want to shake my head, toss that shit sandwich over my shoulder, and go hunt out the ingredients for a sandwich my grandmother would have been proud to serve me. (Okay, this paragraph was a stretch, but a) I really do love sandwiches, and b) they’re a thing in my family: “sammiches.”)
Changing the story of this moment. Changing the sammich. Changing myself, probably.
More on intentions (specifically some climate storytelling project ones) in future posts….