The downside of falling in love every day
In Lexington Kentucky, as I sat down to begin a waterfall of light meditation, the deep roll of thunder exploded in consent. The porch of my Airbnb began to tap out the drumbeat of a gutter filled with rain, and then the sky opened up in downpour. It was time, is time, to let go.
I haven’t written in so long, and the guilt of this is one of many weights I’m wading through. I haven’t pulled off a grave sin like robbing a bank or seducing another gal’s man. But I feel off. My friend Nick used to say he never felt angry, just irritated. I make mistakes left, right and center, and I can get so caught up in fixing them that I forget what’s working, or what I have done right in the first place. Why do I stash my suffering in a to-go bag from every place I enjoy? I feel guilt for anything falling short of my goals, for anything that causes pain in others, even when it’s unintentional, or at times required as a way to teach boundaries. Every bag of chips I’ve eaten, every second beer I’ve had, every friend who wanted to visit, but for whom I didn’t make time. Every time I packed up before dawn to hit the road as if I could leave my troubles behind.
But it’s not that movement, it’s something else that lets it all go. In the Catholic church sacrament of confession has been part of the Catechism from the early days of the New Testament. I’ve never entered a dark booth to speak to a priest like this, but I’ve bowed my head over beads, spinning them between fingers in prayers of my own making. I wonder if the need to let go has existed before the sins were named and categorized. I think therapy is the way we’ve shuttled confession into the secular realm. What is the path to absolution for polytheists? For Muslims? For atheists? For me, to release the negativity that holds me back, I meditate, I write, I yoga, and I play. I have missed this, the time when I get to tell my stories in a quiet miles from anyone I know. But I’ve been collecting stories to tell ~ I could sit here for three days straight. Who knows, I may opt out of the bourbon tastings and artwalks I had envisioned, simply to sit here and fess up. For me, this feels like forgiveness.
Outside the rain falls light on the teal umbrella. Hoopla is growling at the sirens that keep blaring in and out of earshot. The thunder is back, rumbling the walls of this 200 year old house. And my heart.
The tag line for my home page is fall in love every day. And I do. Legit. But I’ve spent the entirety of my life defining what that means. I fall into wonder, into joy, into excitement. In yoga, the term Namaste means I bow to the light in you. That’s how I live; most of the people I have met glow in their own ways, but seeing the light doesn’t mean I want to parallel their paths. I fall into the divinity I see in each person. But I don’t always fall into relationships. I haven’t figured out how to avoid getting hurt, or hurting other people in the process. I don’t think it’s even possible. Fascination and infatuation are easy. And maybe because I’m on the road, I feel gratitude, joy and love in so many people.
Even a couple days ago, as I filled up my tank at a station in West Virgina, a trucker joking about our different feul bills, said that I came from the Nazi state out west where they hate truckers and the second amendment. I had driven nine hours the day before and four that morning. I was tired of driving. As my eyes followed the yellow lines, the foggy hillsides and forests, I had thought about how hard it would be to pilot a semi for a job. Would I be lonely sleeping the truckbed alone? Bored with the same tasks? Grateful for the scenery? Who knows. But because of these thoughts, I just smiled at the man and said, I think you’re using the term Nazi wrong; I’m a Californian who doesn’t hate truckers.
But that’s not what has me twisted up. It’s the way people’s desires can be in disharmony, and the role I play in it. I have a business card with the address for this website, and my email, and I give it out often enough. I’d like to share my writing, my voice. I count my lucky stars that I can travel like this, but the point is to unify the journey through storytelling. Though I try, I can’t share my voice without attachments. It’s not possible. People who message me want to stay in touch. I have wanted to stay in touch with people who have felt otherwise. I’ve definitely garnered some friends in this journey. But I’ve also garnered some suitors.
A couple weeks ago my friends said they wanted to set me up with someone. I thought it was bad timing, but I just forgot about it. A few days later, I got a text and then a phone call from a man who also quit a teaching job to travel, let’s call him Postdoc. We spoke for a long time, and I found his story fascinating. He was well-read, and had a keen sense of analysis and storytelling. Unlike me, teaching was his third career, after two highly prestigious jobs before. He was planning his journey to begin in Asia, but hadn’t left the USA yet. We agreed we’d try to meet up. A couple days later, when Postdoc and I spoke on the phone, he reneged, saying it was a bad idea, given that we were each on our own journeys. In the same conversation, it became clear that we had very different ideas about religion, I having chosen travel because of faith and a calling, he an atheist retiring early from a workplace that didn’t fit. But still, when he changed his mind and asked if I’d meet him, I did. In the Greek myth, Hope was the last thing left in Pandora’s box. You can’t shake it. Seeing him was romantic and awkward. We had an amazing time walking around his coastal town in Southern Boston, and discovered that we disagreed on politics, money and even, to an extent, family. We argued and made out and generally confused each other into distraction. There was fire. I am a double leo; he is a scorpio. To me, our disagreements felt like an intellectual challenge. Here was a man I didn’t understand. But when I de-emphasized my spiritual beliefs because I knew he would see me as naïve, I didn’t bat an eye. That’s not who I am, and I don’t want to have that fight. I am on this journey because of my faith. I left feeling that this trip was good for the sake of the adventure. Here was someone who I might be able to count as a friend. But despite the chemistry, this was not a man with whom I could grow into the person I want to be. And here I am, on my own, still somehow longing for a man who’s all wrong. It’s embarrassing to be over thirty and still feel pulled towards someone who’s values are so oppositional to your own.
But tandem to this jaunt, I feel guilty for walking away from a kind man who wasn’t glaringly opposed to my values. Between Detroit and NYC, I stayed in Pittsburg for one night. This man, let’s call him Banks, drove in to show me around town. I had met him in a bar a few weeks earlier. I’m sure that after a few drinks, I sauntered from friendly into flirty. But this happens all the time, even when I’m not drinking. I’m a people person, a people pleaser. I love improv theater because it feels so easy to say “yes, and..” over and over. But he was, and is, a salesman, and conversation is one of his talents. Before he drove in, I made sure to say that I wasn’t sharing my room. I wanted to see him, but I didn’t want to give the wrong impression. I was nervous because he was kind, and had driven a long way to meet up. But seeing him was easy as pie. We wandered around town, ordering fancy drinks at the Ace Hotel, laughing through the abandoned Station Square, hiking through the rain at the top of one incline, to the fancy restaurant at the top of the other one. He teased me about my sense of direction, but we didn’t argue at all. After the night was over, I gave him a hug and said thank you. And while I was glad to see my friend, I felt a tug in another direction.
I felt like a schmuck. I don’t know if I misread the situation. I don’t know if I led him on. Or if I entertained the idea of dating this good man. As much as I liked him, I just didn’t feel that fire. If I game him more time, maybe I would have. But mostly, I felt cared for. Every time I talk to my girlfriend Christina, every time I open the pages of a book about love, this is what it’s about. Caring. What am I looking for then? I genuinely like this guy, but something in me, or in him, is blocking any romantic cohesion. I have to trust that feeling in my gut, right?
The life I’ve led, mostly single, or navigating a newish relationship that might last up to a year, is atypical in my community. But in relationships, I have always had a hard time trusting myself. Have you heard the Beastie Boy’s song “Sabotage?” It’s not so much my style of music, but it’s my style of romance. I’m working on it. I am not twenty two, so I’m not looking for my first love. I believe we have multiple soul mates. I have grown into a self sufficient woman with opinions and drives. And of course, issues. Any relationship I settle into will not be one in which I grow up, but one in which I simply grow. I am on this journey, in part, to learn to trust myself better. And while I want, ultimately, to love one person, I think I still have some growing to do on my own.
The sky here is still grey, but the rain has stopped. It’s time to hit the dog park, and I may have time to roll through Frankfort this afternoon. I never set out to toy with anyone’s heart. I am tired of denying good people, inviting in those who won’t last. My unavailability is so transparent. But so, I hope, is my genuine warmth for the people on my path. Love is a tricky word: a feeling, an act, a name for god ~ I don’t know. But it’s why I write. It’s where I finger the prayer beads of keys on my macbook over and over. Please forgive me. I have screwed up again. And again. But I’m still grateful, still hopeful, still willing to grow.