June 7, 2011
The last two weeks I have brought a piece of writing to my writing group. I have put aside my novel to work on my travel memoir, which will start when I begin my journey on July 30th. I have never done this before – tried to “work” on a blog post. Usually I am ready to write one, brimming over with thoughts and emotions, and it falls out of my fingers effortlessly and I look it over and press the publish button. Not this time. My friend Jesse, after I read my second sucky piece, said kindly, “You need to get to the bottom of why leaving this place is so hard for you. That’s what you need to write about.”
I had written about the rain. I had written about my recent depression. But none of it matched the enormity of my emotions. Yes, this year has been tough, as anyone who has followed my year of blogs can attest. But more than that, this moving on feels like leaving a whole big chunk of my life behind. It also feels like an escape, and a well-planned one, as elaborate as any of those Alcatraz dudes could brag of. But it feels, in many ways, like my time here was a failure.
I spent seventeen years in Bellingham. Eleven of those years I was married to Hell-billy, my ex husband. Although I cringe when I see him (what WAS I thinking?) he did work on this house that will be my goose laying a golden travel egg, and he did, most importantly, give me two amazing daughters. He may have screwed up their view of what a man should be, but hopefully that will straighten itself out in time. And they are exquisite. I can’t claim full credit. Although both were born in California like their mother, they were raised here and have chosen to stay here for now. Bellingham was a good place to raise my girls, though I did the hardest part – the teen years – solo. I am proud to say that we all survived!
For another five years I had a wonderful romance, but with full blinders on. I loved a man with the emotional depth of a houseplant, and kept hoping I saw glimmers of more. I call him TF1 – Table for One – because of his inability to let anyone fully into his life. We had great times travelling, going to restaurants, and having wild, one-sided sex (but I still thought it was great – because I loved him!) He took me to lots of fun events. He made love with his eyes closed. I broke up with him for his lack of a commitment to our future and it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. I am sad but grateful that I had the strength to end it. And still I wish we could sit and talk as friends, and his inability to do even that has made me feel that another five years of my life here were a failure.
But there were things gained here. I went from being a high-school dropout to earning three degrees. (AA, BA, M.Ed!) I bought, fixed up, and established a lot of equity in a house. I made wonderful life-long friends. I learned to ride better. I began a love affair with yoga that has sparked within me the desire to teach it to others. Over the course of ten years teaching I helped 200 special needs children (and their families) get a good solid start in school. I was touched often, and deeply, by the youngest and most unlikely of teachers: my own students. I even had my nose broken by one.
In the last year as I fought through empty-nest syndrome and major depression, including serious and scary suicidal longings, I have grown stronger. More confident. Unafraid. Eager for adventure. Ready for travel.
And so, if leaving Bellingham to travel abroad for almost a year is hard, it is because it is bitter-sweet. This place has nurtured my education and the growth of my children, and brought me many wonderful experiences. It also rained a hell of a lot. As in, all the freaking time! Depression rates are higher here, so much that I recently had a spirited discussion with a friend about how many serial killers are from this area. Answer: lots!!!! (see link below) So I am happy to get out of the constant dreary grayness.
During my travels, I will write. Lots, I hope! I will learn Spanish. I’m sure I will laugh and I’m sure I will cry. If I get homesick, I won’t even know where home is, as I have two houses but they are both rented to other families. But I’ll meet people on my journey and I am open to any possibilities.
The shadow of my friend Jesse once again taps me on the shoulder. “This isn’t about men, is it?” Well, no. But this year of being single (yes, I’ve had lovers, but we all knew where we stood!) has reaffirmed that I want to be a romantic partner to someone. Someone with depth this time. If I could love someone shallow with my undying passion, imagine how I could love someone complex and giving! I’m making a list: He will have tattoos. He will speak more than one language. And if he was ever married – and hopefully he has been if he is even close to my age! – he never cheated on his wife. I have come to realize that cheating in a marriage says more about a man’s character than I previously believed, no matter his excuses for doing so.
So, follow my adventure if you will, my cyber-friends. I can’t make any promises, but I hope it will be the step of enlightenment and growing up that will bring me to the next level of readiness. Come along for the ride if you dare…
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/823295/posts Serial Killer article, yikes!