Thursday, June 28, 2012
The Art of Acceptance and Moving Forward
I had drinks with a very close friend recently, “E.” We’ve been pals for over a decade and have seen one another through everything. We’ve survived several major bumps in our relationship, including several near-catastrophes with romantic feelings (me towards her). There’s no real definition for what we are. We simply…are. Through it all, we’ve simply maintained and have been there for one another through thick and thin.
From the moment I met her, E. has always been clear that she wants to be a stay-at-home mom. She’s never married and the men in her life don't seem to hang around very long. So when we had drinks, she said something rather Zen that tapped into certain things I have felt in my own life as well.
She said basically that she’s beginning to accept the fact that she may *not* in fact be married and have children. I’m one of the few people she tells this to because friends and family would simply say “Oh no…there there…you’ll see.” Her point was that she was coming to terms with simply accepting her life as it is. She has a magnificent social life and tons of friends. She's a lovely, wonderful lady. What has eluded her has been a mate.
Skipping the tension between us, what I took away from the conversation—and what I shared with her in the moment—was that I’ve begun to have similar feelings on a number of levels.
Firstly, I am in the midst of a major transition right now. After ten months of unemployment, I have been picked up by a major tech company as an offsite editor. I’ve lived in my parents’ home—back in my childhood bedroom—since last fall, and soon it will be time to move out…or pay rent. (Rather, there is no “or” in this disjunctive.)
So I'm doing the most responsible thing possible: hopping a plane to the west coast for five weeks.
The move to new digs is hitting me on more of a gut level than I had originally anticipated. While I've been home for eight months, much of my personal effects remain in my friend Nermfgo's basement in L.A. Part and parcel of this trip out west is to get all of that squared away and moved...
I've had at least seven different addresses in the past three and a half years. I haven't really ever stayed in any one spot long enough to call it "home" in my adult life. Four different residences through college, one in the hills of Altadena from age 23 to 30 (dubbed “The Love Shack”) and then three more in SoCal, an apartment in Brooklyn, and back to where it all began in my parents’ house in Whitehouse Station, NJ.
I spread myself and my belongings out, trying to be everywhere. I often wonder about the premise that if a man’s belongings burn in a fire, is he officially “free”?
Such histrionics aside, in two days I board a plane for L.A., where I lived from age 17 until 32. Nearly half my life—enough time to set up a life, friends, jobs, loves, careers and missteps.
What’s it been like in my absence? Will it have changed? Will *I* have changed? And how will such mutual transformations affect us both?
This just in: A few days ago I sent my ex-girlfriend, "A.," a note to let her know I would be in town and would she like to get together at some point for a drink and catch up. She’s been dealing with health problems for nearly a year, so I’ve felt a certain tender devotion to someone who was basically the main person in my life for nearly four years. We’ve been split up now for nearly as long. She was the one in the breakup discussions who maintained that I was her best friend and she didn’t *ever* want to let our friendship go. Yet with each passing visit or discussion on the phone, I’ve become ever more cognizant of what I knew but didn’t admit to myself during the relationship. I tried and tried and tried as a boyfriend, and I tried and tried and tried as a friend.
Today she sent a terse note basically saying that she will be busy all of July. I get it: It’s summer and we all have travel plans and obligations and things we wish to do. But if I responded to anything, it was not only the flip tone of the message but also that there was barely little mention of trying to meet up with me another time for a bloody cup of coffee. I got the impression that I *might* get a text from her if the Lint-Watching Channel suddenly goes blank.
Maybe I'm being unfair, and this is of course only my side of the story. Where my ex is concerned, we had a complicated relationship, and now we have a complicated post-relationship. I continue to often feel a turning in my stomach when we interact, because I know that I will be in for her taking the excitement I feel for everything I express and tossing doubt onto all my plans and accomplishments. And I feel strong enough to say that the only reason I’ve put up with that kind of “friendship” is because it’s her. Had we never been a couple, I wouldn’t have tried so hard just to be a friend.
And because I genuinely do care. It'd be much harder to simply step back if I didn't.
But I’m about done trying. I want to spend time with people who *want* to spend time with me, especially on a cross-country excursion.
I’m getting sidetracked. Going back to my original point with this specific post…
Just as my friend E. begins to allow herself the possibility that she *may* not wind up a stay-at-home mom…I also must begin to allow myself the possibility that I *may* not in fact become the celebrated writer and man of letters I would so love to be.
What E. and I spoke of was that what is important is to at least try. She admired me for at least trying to get my writing career off the ground and going. This is a good step. Not a first step—far from it—but a step notwithstanding. She encouraged me to keep going.
As I did for her in return. I continue to encourage her to get out there and try. It's very easy to not meet your mate by sitting at home in front of the "The Great Race." That's why she and I remain as close as we do. We support one another without prejudice. Past is prelude; the future remains unseen.
With that in mind, I have a plane to catch this weekend. It's all part of this grand adventure we call life. Just needed to air out some doubts and anxieties floating about of late. I won't let them weigh me down...but as Eckhart Tolle said, at least acknowledge that they're there.