The Year

I had a big year.

I started the year with the thought that I only had 6 months left in Seattle. I had big plans to do it up right.

I went on trips to Portland (twice!) and Vancouver. I went to South by Southwest with my favorite band and good friends. My best friend came to visit me. My brother graduated from college and my whole family was in town. I also met up with my best friend in Austin in October.

I celebrated 10 years in Seattle. My move to Austin fell apart. I started the process of buying my condo. I helped Joe find a job and move back to Seattle.

My year ended with the closing of my condo and my brothers living in the same city as me.

When I write it out like that, it doesn’t seem like much, but when you live that shit, it’s a lot. I can feel every minute of this year deep in my bones.

And you know what? It was a good year. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was able to say that. It’s been at least 5 years, if not more.

It was a good year.

It’s hard for me to say that, actually. So many people I love can’t say the same. There are people I love that have had years so wretched that I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy and I feel that. I feel how hard it’s been for them this year. And because when I love someone, really love them, I feel and experience hurt with them. But, I guess, life will always be like that. Some of us will have good years and some of us won’t. One of the many things I wish I could control, but I can’t.

I had a good year. I deepened relationships. I made amazing new friends. I traveled. I listened to live music. I had a lot of sex—good sex, even. I stood up to my father. I bought my condo.

Life isn’t perfect. It will never be. However, slowly, but surely, I am coming closer to being the person I can be; the person I want to be. I don’t know what next year will bring, but for the first time in my life, I think I can handle whatever it is.

Closing Time

In the summer of 2005, Froggy came to visit me for a week or so. That week was magical for many, many reasons, but I am only going to talk about one of them right now.

After almost 2 years in Seattle, I had decided to move to Bellevue, where I worked, so I would no longer have to commute. At the time when Froggy was here, I had only been looking half-seriously, even though my lease was up in 2 months. One of the days he was here, we were at my office and then heading back to my house. As we were leaving Bellevue, we drove by some condos near the mall. I pointed them out to Froggy and said “Like, there. That’s kinda where I want to live. Close to stuff and close to work”. Frogs wrote down the name of the place and I promptly lost that piece of paper and never thought of it again.

About a month or so later, Tom comes in one morning and tells me it’s a nice day, so I have to leave work at noon. I, of course, complied, and promptly went home and fell asleep. At about 3:30-ish, I woke up and decided to peruse Craigslist for apartments. I found a great one and called the number listed. We set an appointment for the next day. Tom decided to go with me to view it. We left, having given a deposit and signed a lease.

One year after that, Michael bought our condo and we moved in. And remodeled. And lived happily ever after, or, we lived there together for 5 years.

Then, two, almost 3, years ago when Michael and I broke up, there happened to be a 2 bedroom condo available just down the complex, near where I had originally lived, and Joe and I moved in.

Another year passed and I had to move again. Michael was kind, gracious and generous when he offered to kick out his tenant so I could move back in, even though I told him I would be moving to Austin soon.

One more year brings us to the beginning of this one. Michael was going to have to stop paying the mortgage and short sell the condo. I would have to move out before I moved to Austin.

Austin.

Shortly after Austin fell apart, as I began to decide how my life was supposed to look now, Michael asked if I wanted to buy the condo. I wasn’t sure. Maybe I would move to Seattle. One morning, a few days later, I was taking a shower and rinsing my hair. As I looked up, I noticed one of my hairs on the ceiling. How the fuck did my hair get on the ceiling? And it hit me. This is my house. My hair is improbably, inexplicably, on the fucking ceiling. This house belongs to no one, but me.

Today, 7 months after I saw my hair on the damn ceiling, I closed on the condo. This is my house. This house belongs to no one, but me.

My story isn’t over. I don’t know why I am meant to live here. But I have no doubt that I am meant to live here. How can I believe anything else? I can’t, I won’t and I don’t.

I’m home.

Coming clean

I’m freaking out guys.

It’s one of those things where you think you totally have a situation under control only to realize you totally do not. That it is, in fact, laughable that you ever thought otherwise.

This next part is going to require me to admit something I don’t want to admit. I have actually been furiously denying this for months and months and months now. I realize now, though, that I have to be honest with myself if I am ever going to figure this out.

I have developed feelings for someone. I have been sleeping with this guy for almost 8 months. It was just supposed to be “fun”. Non-committal. When we met, I was moving to Austin. The last thing I wanted was to fall in love or start a relationship. I couldn’t let anything try to keep me here, as it was already going to be hard enough to leave. Then, of course, everything changed. I have spent a lot of time picking up the Austin pieces and doing my best to figure out what my life will look now that Austin isn’t happening. As I have mentioned, my “final frontier”, so to speak, is relationships.

I don’t know what happened. Life, I guess. One second it was all perfectly fine and the next  . . . the next I find myself feelings things I don’t want to feel. The things is—he’s not the guy for me. I know this. I’ve known this for a long time. We have nothing in common. We don’t want the same things. He thinks Superbad was inappropriate. No, that was seriously  thing he said. He isn’t the guy for me. So, why am I falling for him?

I know why. Again, this is me admitting something I don’t want to admit. (this one is even scarier than the first)

I’m falling for him because I am ready to fall for someone and he’s the easy choice. The thing is, though, it isn’t easy!! Easy is the word I am using, but it isn’t easy. I am chasing someone unavailable which is easy for me. Because that is what I have done my entire life. The chase—that’s what I think love is. I chased my dad. I chased Michael. Look at me! I am awesome, I am so perfect, I have no needs or wants of my own and I will take care of you;  fall in love with me. And it doesn’t matter if you don’t “get me”, like, at all or that I actually do have needs and wants. It’s fine. You are letting me chase you. And that’s love. To me, that’s love.

I realized, every time he leaves, I immediately start to feel a withdrawal. I suddenly feel unsatisfied and I need him to come over again and again. Last week, I saw him every day. I was so hungry. Then it dawned on me that I would never feel satisfied as long as I kept seeing him. I would never be satisfied because I would never get what I want. Which is, apparently, a real relationship. Trust me, I am just as surprised as you are. Not just that I want that (most of you probably knew that), it’s more that I actually admitted it.

Well, fuck me.

I feel stuck. I don’t want to stop seeing him. I don’t want to have feelings for him. I don’t want to be in a relationship with him. I am at odds with myself. Which, P.S., sucks. I don’t know what to do. I am indulging myself. Whenever I think “just fucking break up with him, fuck. Be a damn grown-up” it is immediately followed by “No. I’m not ready. I don’t have to be ready. I’m not ready”. I am acting like a child. I am accepting a situation that is untenable. I am going against myself.

I am going against myself.

Why isn’t that enough? Shouldn’t that be enough? Knowing that I am going against myself should be enough of a kick in the ass for me to make a move. But it isn’t. And that is scary.

Texas

I’ve never written about why I am not moving to Austin. There are a few reasons for this, but mostly, I was tired of talking about it. When you spend over a year agonizing over something and telling everyone you know you are moving and then, suddenly, you aren’t, people want to know why. And all of them were important, well-meaning people and I wanted to tell them why.  Eventually, though, I got tired of the story. I was tired of feeling like a fool. Not that anyone made me feel that way, but every time I repeated the story, it was so obvious to me how foolish Joe and I were, so, I felt like a fool.

Months have passed. I’m tired of the story, but I am also tired of being misunderstood. I am tired of being quiet and respectful. Joe and I tried hard to not drag the entire family into the mess, but apparently, they all want to be in the middle of it. I’m tired of that too. While I understand where they are coming from, it would be nice if they tried to understand where Joe and I are coming from. There is absolutely no empathy for us, though there is plenty for my father. The funny thing is, if they did show the slightest bit of understanding for our side of the story, they would get so much further in their goal to make us speak to our father again. I’m not saying it’s that easy, but it’s really the only place to start. The more we are told that our feelings don’t matter, that what happened to us—in April and our entire lives—doesn’t matter, the angrier we become.

I’m tired of being told “but you are family and you have to forgive family for everything they do wrong to you”. Fuck that shit. No. I don’t. I do not have to forgive my father anymore. I have forgiven him a million times for a million things. I have spent years and years walking on eggshells around him, making decisions based on what he will think of them and, basically, doing all I could so he wouldn’t leave me. Again.

Well, guess what? He left. He decided that Joe wasn’t worth the hard conversation and, with God on his side (according to him), he walked away.

Good riddance. Do you know how freeing it is to not be afraid anymore? How freeing it is to not watch every word and weigh every decision? Do you know how freeing it is to not have to move to make your father’s dreams come true? The palpable relief has been like seeing the world for the first time. It wasn’t until then that I realized how I enslaved myself to my father and to my fear that he would leave me.

It makes sense, though. I think I wanted him the most. Out of the three of us, I wanted a dad—my dad—the most. I’m the one that forced myself into his life. And then made sure he built good, strong relationships with the other two (well, as best I could). I’m the one that moved across the country to live with him. And I’m the one that works in the same field as him. I’m the one who did everything in her power to make herself needed by him. All in the hope that it would, somehow, stop him from leaving me. Again.

Joe and I are told that we are causing irreparable damage to our relationship with our dad and our step-mom. But, no one seems to be willing to acknowledge that they already caused irreparable damage to us. We matter too. We matter too. And I will be damned if I don’t shout that from the rooftops. We matter too. We matter too. We matter too. WE MATTER TOO.

So, no. I won’t move to Austin. Not now, not ever. And no, I won’t talk to my father. Not now. One day . . . probably. Probably one day. For now, for now I want peace. Joe wants peace. We want a chance to reconfigure. We want time to heal. I am tired of the bandaid being ripped off. I’m tired. Enough is enough.

August has always been a month of change for me. A month of growth and renewal. As I mentioned 2 years ago (!) when I was starting therapy, August 10th was the day I left New Mexico to move to Connecticut and the day I left New Mexico for Seattle. It’s also the day I started therapy two years ago. I now tend to think of August 10th as almost a birthday. I always look to the month of August with reverence and, sometimes, dread. We all know I don’t do well with change.

Yet, change happens. It doesn’t matter how I feel about it, it happens. It doesn’t matter if I am not ready, it happens. Maybe one day, I will be able to accept change for what it is (inevitable), instead of fighting it tooth and nail. I’ve gotten better at it though.

Therapy has been going quite well—to the point that I almost thought “Hmmm, I might be done for a bit”. Then, change came and laughed at me. I am now facing what I think of as the final frontier: relationships. Well, romantic relationships. Honestly, I have never been so terrified. This is the first time in therapy I’ve had thoughts like “I truly do not believe I can change that about myself” and “It would be far simpler to just accept that this is the way I am”. The feelings and emotions I have felt in the last month are much too intense for my liking.

Yet, change happens. I’m trying to lean into it. I’m trying to accept that it is coming for me.

On August 11th, it will be 10 years since I arrived in Washington to live. A decade. Ten years. It feels like 10 years. I feel every one of those 10 years. And I can see the change from those 10 years. Of course. Of course I have changed in 10 years. Some of that change was natural or gradual. And some of that change was unexpected and painful. I was practically married! And then divorced! It was my twenties! It was wow. Those 10 years were wow.

And now, at what seems like just the right moment, I am almost starting anew. I am not moving to Austin. I am buying my condo from Michael. My friendships and social life are everything I have always thought they would be.  I am surrounded by good people, in a good place. It’s a good way to start the next 10. In fact, it’s quite similar as to how I started out 10 years ago. Full of hope and excitement. Living in a place that I know, down to my core, I belong.

I did good.

Two years ago, I went to see The Local Strangers at their CD Release show. I was absolutely blown away by their musical talent. And I still feel those same feelings when I see them perform today. I still get swept up in Matt’s enthusiasm. My heart still breaks when Aubrey hits that perfect note. I think I might be able to say I have seen them perform more than anyone else and I still, still, feel ALL THE FEELINGS.

For me, that night, that night of music and feelings and happiness was enough. More, even. More than one can generally hope for on a Friday night.  More than I ever did hope for on a Friday night.

But what I didn’t know then-what I do know now-is that night was the beginning of my new life. So many people who mean so much to me now, are people I met that night. That was really my first “local” show and I haven’t looked back since. Those people, this music and, I think, happiness found me that night. Happiness, guys!

On Wednesday, Joe, Dawn and my nephews fly into Seattle. Virtually everyone and everything I love will be here. In Seattle. Needless to say, I have been counting the minutes. Everyone will be here because, well, guys, Froggy is graduating. Yup. I guess that’s happening. I swear, we just moved him into the dorms yesterday . . . My feelings on that, well, that is a whole other story.

Before the graduation and before parents and grandparents and uncles and cousins get into town, before all that, I get 2 nights with just my siblings. And in one of the best instances of stars aligning, I get to take them to a The Local Strangers show.

I could dance around in this full circle all day.

To have all my siblings here is treat enough, but to be able to take them into my world . . . well there are no words. My favorite band, my boss and his wife, Sizzle, Kristen, Quinton, Julia, Deb, Natalie, Katrina, Carrie, Daniela, Annalisa, Sharon, Jon, Richard and every other person in Seattle I adore. All under one roof. And my siblings will be there. With me. It’s almost more happiness than I can bear.

Happiness. Two years ago, I never thought I could feel the sort of happiness I have felt lately. Luckily, I believed Kris when he told me it was waiting. He was right.

There are things, just over the horizon. Things that may rain on my happiness parade. But today? Right now? As I celebrate the night where things started to change, I’m going to lean into it. I’m going to let it envelop me. I’m going to turn my music up really loud and dance around my kitchen.

Because my siblings get here in a mere 40 hours.

What more is there?

Next month, it will be 2 years since Michael and I broke up. Somehow, that time feels infinitely long and yet, very, very short.

It surprises me that I feel like it was just yesterday that Michael and I broke up. It surprises me because I am completely over him and I did not feel that way the day after we broke up. Still, 2 years feels like it has gone by in the blink of an eye. I am sure much of this has to do with the fact that I still live in our condo. Or that Michael and I still talk and text. Just, you know, him being in my life. As 2013 passes (I am sure much too quickly), many of the reasons we communicate will no longer exist. And soon it will be 3 years since we broke up. Soon, before I know it, we will have been broken up for longer than we were together. Isn’t that something.

Conversely, when I think of the things I have done in the last 2 years-the life outside of Michael and that break-up-I feel like so much has happened. My brother moved here and then moved to Austin. I made friends with some amazing people. I have strengthened friendships I already had. I’ve lost friends.  I started living a life here in Seattle congruent to the life I always thought I’d have here. I fell in love with Seattle music and it has swept me up and held me close and made me feel alive in a way I have never known before.

I am happier than I have ever been.

I would be remiss to leave out that a lot of that has to do with therapy. I have had to learn to redefine things. I have had to learn how to rank my friendships so that I am not hurt so easily. I have had to learn to acknowledge the good things that happen. I have had to learn to acknowledge myself. And while I want to say here, on my blog, for all 2 of you to see, that I have come so very far, I also know, because I have come this far, that I have so much further to go. I am happier than I have ever been, but I have a lot of work to do to be completely happy with my life; with myself.

I think my biggest challenge this year will be living life in suspense. It’s very hard to feel like your life is moving forward or that you are moving forward, when so much is temporary. I have to find a temporary home to live in before I move to Austin. I can’t really date (if I wanted to, which, I can’t say if I do or not) because I am moving. I spend much of my time and money doing too much-trying to grab moments and friends and soak them up before I leave. Not that I regret or don’t want to do those things, but if I wasn’t leaving, I might spread them out a little more vs. spreading myself too thin. Running myself ragged; feeling like I am always missing something or letting someone down. I might be able to find a balance. Instead, everything and everyone is going out of business. I imagine my first few months in Austin will be spent sleeping.

Still, I am happier than I have ever been.

And that is something I have to remember; something I have to acknowledge.