Monday morning I walked Chris to his bus stop, where he was all geared up for his first day of graduate school at CSUS. I walked in my pajamas and on the way back I thought about the symbolism of the moment- me walking away and turning a literal corner, a corner that shifts our blissfully paralleled lives to become two distinct and suddenly perpendicular lines.
Not that I’m not being mellow dramatic, because I am. But turning that corner was the first small chip of realization falling off the old block of denial. There are only a few weeks left before I leave for Korea and while I’ve been really calm about the while transition, it’s only because I have been purposefully keeping my head in the sand in hopes of avoiding any long-winded acknowledgements of the things I will be leaving behind and the uncertainty of the rest of my life. Not just my life with Chris, but my life. As in, that giant, impossible concept of my own humanity. Albeit small in comparison to the rest of humanity as a whole, the rest of my life is a term that skirts the limits of my perception. And it is a terrifying black hole to stare down into.
But I can’t keep my head in the sand forever. This is apparent when, walking back from the bus stop in my jammies and my smudged glasses, I am faced with a much thinner, much perkier version of my own gender, complete with a button nose and an anxious school girl gate. She is speed-walking to the very bus stop where I have just left my unsuspecting boyfriend, with his clear and open blue eyes, and she is armed with her own backpack full of future hopes and present desires. I have no idea what her intentions are, what her life is like, but the reality going on above ground is that there are thousands of eager and heart broken girls waiting on the other side of that bus ride. They will be there, rain or shine, every day that I am not. And their presence in the same zip code as Chris is enough to make me feel suddenly territorial, though not without a little shame.
But I’m not going to Korea to think about my life back home. I’m not going to Korea to test the strength of my relationship or to torture myself with self-imposed and catty jealousy. I’m going to Korea because right here, in this city, I am bored. I am bored and hungry and clamoring desperately for something in life that will make me feel inspired again. I am restless and ruled by my emotions. I am full of questions and compromises and I want, I think, something that will re-ignite my own independent fire, the one that was blown out, somehow, alongside the candles on top my graduation cake. And just as I’m leaving Chris in the hands of the Fates That Be, so am I delivering myself down the same portal of future mysteries that is filled with just as many possibilities for myself as for him. But not a single one of those possibilities will change the fact that right now, in this present reality, I am sitting next to someone I truly love and who truly loves me. We are both healthy. We are both here.
Earlier tonight, on our way back from froyo, Chris and I ran into a friend at Crepeville who commented on our mutual energy, stating, “There’s something special there- something worth it, something really worth it.” It was a timely reminder that whatever has happened between Chris and I, regardless of what happens in the future, it has been a tremendous and powerful gift. And that should be all there is to say.
Also, there are other things to consider here. As I was comprehending the reality of the chances that lay ahead, I went into a small panic after realizing just how distanced I am from almost all of my family. My mom and I talk on the phone several times a week, usually. But my brother and I are nearly strangers, I rarely see my nephew, and my dad and Lorianne are wrapped up in their own lives, and me in my own. Then there is my step mom, Mary, who I may as well already live a million miles from since we hardly ever speak anymore. This is especially strange when I reminisce on what an all-consuming and dependent role we played in each others’ lives less than five years ago. Now, it is as if everyone has retreated far into their own geographies, the borders of which are sketched out by the remnants of old battle lines.
This gets me thinking about phases and suddenly I feel my life has been a series of passing phases. During each phase I have come to know a diverse range of people and them, me. But once the phase ends, someone moves or gets divorced, everyone goes their own way and the entire dynamic dissipates as if it was never there. The “me” that lived in that dynamic dies off, starts new habits, and forgets about the home-cooked security of suburbs or the smell and heartbreak of the basement where I found my mom crying, once, behind a flower press and the water heater. I forget that I was once a rag-a-muffin neighborhood kid, knocking on your door with peanut butter in my hair, wanting to swim in your hot tub or ride bikes with your kid or fetch my Barbie from your backyard. I forget all about entire relationships, the first kiss seems only a fabrication of Harlequin adolescent desires, and the essay I once kept in a frame now reads sophomoric.
This is weird, this inconsistency of our lives. There are schools of thought that would condone my childhood for having a lack of stability. They would likely blame my bouts of neuroses on this very thing.
But while I’m at a point in my life where I am beginning to fear change and grow weary from instability, I am still running towards it. I’m still curious and equally fearful of stagnation. And part of the reason is that I am not altogether convinced that my identity is dependent on the past, especially since so much of it exists only in mental fabrications and exaggerations that I am creating in the present. I also remain unconvinced that change can somehow scar a developing person, that it can’t teach someone how to be more flexible and thoughtful with their lives, that it can’t instill an inherent sense of independence.
But alas, the theory is still developing. And the grand experiment has only just begun.