The 10-day-long trip started out innocently enough. I headed south to spend some time with my parents and siblings, and I enjoyed those few days immensely. I didn't really get a chance to relax, but I didn't stress, either. I rested mentally even if not physically. I felt myself start to recover from a long six months and an even longer year and a half.
But then I departed for Vegas. It wasn't my idea, mind you, I was just along for the ride. And I had never been. How was I to know that in two days it would quickly undo my short-lived recovery?
Thank god, then, for San Francisco. The city is gorgeous (though maddeningly cold on occasion), and wine country is nothing short of stunning. Recovery on track once again. I breathed deeply, drank wine sparingly (I know what you're thinking: I'm a little bit insane -- if I was going to drink more than a little, this was the place to do it!) and laughed heartily, though I slept only occasionally. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip.
Returning was a different story. As you may have guessed from my Twitter allusions, I am located on the East Coast (though I still won't say where). My flight from San Francisco home was canceled two days in advance, and I was told by the airline that getting back was impossible before midweek. This was unacceptable, obviously: I have a (fairly) new job, and I do not have limitless financial resources. In other words, staying in San Francisco was too expensive an option even if work had allowed me to do it. And so it was that I flew back to my parents and drove the nine hours home. Alone. After being sleep deprived for ten days, exhaustion constant.
I made it, only to find upon my return that I was a victim of storm damage. There is no structural damage, thankfully, but there is significant cosmetic damage. My new home looks as if a tornado has gone through it, and it's going to take some time to restore to its former beauty. Alas, this is how life is: you suffer a freak earthquake followed by a hurricane followed by storm damage. It's a whirlwind.
Much like my relationship with He Who Is In Personal Crisis. For days before I left I was severely disappointed in and angry at him. Angry that he had chosen not to see me for a week after our last meeting, angry that he had chosen not to see me before I left on vacation and angry that, upon his return after being out leave, he had shut me out on a daily basis. But the trip changed some of that. He asked me for something, and I offered to give it to him if he agreed to see me when I returned. He agreed (rather quickly). And then he was in touch on a day-by-day basis. It was refreshing and not just a little comforting.
But here's the thing: it was easy to practice creating my own happiness and being unattached to outcome while I was on vacation. Even easier than when he was away on leave. He wasn't on my mind because nothing much of consequence was. I was stimulated by new places and new experiences, and I mentally, physically and emotionally fled the stress of my day-to-day existence. I was in touch with the outside world, yes, but I was more consumed with what was in front of me than what at home awaited me. I focused on the Vegas crazies, bought myself a decent piece of jewelry (for the first time ever), savored the delicious food before me, immersed myself in Alcatraz history and basked in the Sonoma sun while listening to our winery guide's life story. I feel like during those experiences I came in contact with a part of my soul that has withered in six months of day-to-day craziness.
And then I returned to that craziness. A little wiser, yes. A little more rejuvenated, sure. But I didn't return to an easy existence. I returned to feeling slighted and ignored. Proof positive: He Who Is In Personal Crisis came perilously close to declaring that he wasn't going to see me this week before he departs on leave again, and I realized that the hard work portion of the journey isn't over yet. I still have to practice, and it's more important that I learn to have the peace of mind that I had while in Sonoma when returning to my damaged apartment and to He Who Is In Personal Crisis. He called shortly after his hurtful, curt message and apologized. He asked if he could see me last night. And then he did. In some ways our night felt like an extension of vacation: we laughed, ate pizza and other unhealthy foods, stayed up too late and enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine after trying diligently to clean up (which we realized is going to prove a rather long process). It was wonderful.
But we avoided heavy topics. And we're still taking baby steps. It's still almost 24 hours later, and I haven't heard a word from him. We're not back to a new normal yet. He admitted to being overwhelmed again (just when he thought he had recovered to some extent; I suppose this proves that he, too, knows what it's like to go through an emotional earthquake followed by a hurricane followed by storm damage), and he remained very, very guarded. He's still not there yet.
Lord knows that I wish he was -- that he would say, "I wonder what is the rational reason for my pain, and I wonder if the universe is sending me messages (like a literal earthquake, hurricane and storm damage) to remind me to find gratitude and a sense of perspective in the midst of it." I wish he would dig deep and both assess and accept how he feels in this untreated trauma/grieving process. I wish he would allow me to be the multifaceted person that I am, not the caricature that he has created. I wish he would let someone in, because if he let anyone in it would be me. I wish he would realize how much he is potentially throwing away, and for nothing. I wish, I wish, I wish.
But not all of our wishes are granted, and still others aren't granted in 'our time'. We must be willing to put aside our preconceived notions about the 'big picture' and be grateful for the little things. And by 'we' I mean me. I must be willing to put aside my preconceived notions about our future and be grateful for the baby steps. Because Rome wasn't built in a day, because slow and steady wins the race and because if I start to focus on what I don't have and what I can't control, I will fall into a never-ending abyss. I can't bear the thought of that.
And so I will practice. Practice taking life one day at a time (coincidentally one of the meanings of the dragonfly, which is the image on the piece of jewelry I purchased). Practice breathing. Practice living. Practice creating my own happiness. That is the only way -- the only way -- I'll mentally and emotionally feel like I'm basking in the sun over the Sonoma while cleaning a hurricane-damaged East Coast apartment.