Sunrise, Sunset. In the beginning we face the sun. Diving into our lives, experiencing firsts, each day begins with the promise of something different. Headlights or taillights decided by the flip of a coin. Days are short and nights are long. You are alive!
We relocate after high school, see the sun from another place on the map. Its harder to stare into now, and we begin to consider turning back…lessen the strain that comes with growing older. For those who do make it through the college years, we are rewarded by a delayed entrance into that same world some returned to a few years before. Our sunrise and sunset now fall within the hours of 9 to 5. Firsts are seldom, those that do occur are usually planned in advanced and booked on a credit card. We tiptoe into our new life, ever cautious about how one move will effect the next. Soon routine becomes a way of life, the same view from the same window on the same cul-de-sac. When you fall asleep you can hear your heartbeat thumping. You’re alive.
Somewhere in between 0 and 30 that sun began to set, things remained stationary. Not important things like relationships and bank accounts, but where you address your mortgage check every month and the day of the week your local grocery store has your favorite sandwich special. It can all seem very daunting, living under the sun, but however predictable some aspects of our lives may be, there are some things more sacred than the daily promise of the sun.
I am not sure there is ever an opportune time to fall in love. There is a great big world out there and at any given moment there is the possibility that something in your life will change. For many years in my life, the element that changed was an address or ‘occupation’ on an application. This year I was starting to feel like someone who could possibly pass for a mature-ish young adult in the Whole Foods checkout line since my new gym membership meant I was now one of the many women in yoga pants and brightly colored sneakers. I had just begun a job in my field that although I wasn’t exactly qualified for had somehow secured anyway. I could make my car payments. I had health insurance. I was on the verge of ordering checks from the bank with my Portland address so in all respects, I had made it.
On paper, this was perfect timing to meet Conner. Not officially meet, as we went to the same high school… but all I really remembered about him is that had made fun of me for liking Smart Water a few months earlier on Facebook. Since that fateful interaction, he’d shown up on my newsfeed. He posted that he was coming down from Seattle to see a show that I had won tickets to so I figured ‘what the hell’ and we made plans to meet up. That Friday I showed up at the Doug Fir Lounge in a giant camouflage jacket and a striped dress. Thank god I wore that jacket because (I learned later) that it omitted mystical powers into the air that made me look really cool and caused him to ask me out on a ~real date. Long story short, date number 3 we were official. Portland to Seattle our love would cross state lines, know no bounds, save the world! *ha!* But in all seriousness that spirit that encompasses you when you fall in love, the surge in faith, clarity in thoughts… the reason behind 8 hours in the car every other weekend, waking up at 4am on a Monday in order to have Sunday, Hawaiin soaps & chocolate from a gift shop, a different song in my inbox every morning from this person I’d somehow found that was a mere 260 miles away. The little things about it all made the big picture seem that much brighter, and there was never a night I didn’t fall asleep smiling.
Life hit me hard the month of May and I was unemployed yet again. My relationship was still in dream-sequence and the thought of moving 1200 miles away back to California crushed me. What I have yet to inform you of is that on that fateful date 3 when we had the ~talk, he has also let me know that he would be leaving in September for a six month backpacking trip to SE Asia. The trip had originally been 2+ years, but he’d decided to cut the trip short in order to sweeten the deal and ensure that I would not fault him for the incredibly daunting timing. I didn’t run date 3 and I sure as hell didn’t want to run now. In a giant leap of faith, I moved in.
Falling in love when you know you’re going to have to say goodbye is not simple. It is especially not simple when you heir on the emotional side of well, everything. I can compare it to sitting on a picturesque beach knowing that you can’t submerge yourself in the water. How Ariel must’ve felt gazing up at the outside world knowing that even if she could be on land for awhile she would eventually have to pay a price. [This is a perfect example of why it is so exciting that I found someone who loves me despite my weird tendencies to compare things to childhood movies] Its a lump in the back of your throat, constant conflict between letting go or pulling in.
At first it was simple, but as the date loomed closer and other aspects of my life shifted as well, sometimes I just broke down. Sometimes it was in the form of waking Conner up in the middle of the night to give him a kiss, holding his arm until I fell asleep. Sometimes it was getting choked up when I found a picture he drew of us in the bottom of my purse he’d left for me to find that said something I will never forget. Sometimes it was when we were having such a good day that even looking at him made my stomach twist into knots knowing that we’d reached the less than one month mark. And sometimes, like a tidal wive,it makes me mad. I usually just wake up with a headache from recounting every depressing detail of what the next few months of my life will entail, recovering from the tailspin I dove into. It is not often that I reach that place of anger, but there are still parts of me that remain selfish and afraid and although they’re depleted each time I hear I love you, I’ve realized that perhaps this trip wasn’t just for him.
Sunrise, sunset. Before I met Conner I had grown accustomed to looking out my window on Cleveland Avenue. When I lost my job, the roof caved in. The people I had spent a year living with turned out to be more concerned my financial ability to cover my share of the deposit than the fact that I had lost my job and had to leave Portland. I had found that house. I had invited them in. I had thought they were friends of mine. I left.
I think for most of us when shit goes wrong in our life and we don’t like how things are turning out, we look the other way. We continue to do the same thing with the hopes that one day it will amount to something worthwhile. Sure we hate our jobs but we love our new car. We can’t stand most of our friends but at least its better than being alone. We always wanted to travel but we have this job and this mortgage and this obligation to someone on the other side of the mirror that although we can’t see is always dictating how to live. That is one of the things I love most about Conner, there is no other side of the mirror. He’s planned this trip for years, saved up enough money, and god damn he is going to actually do it. He is an Ace at his job, and he gets paid well for it. He has a web of people in Seattle who love him like I love him and who are really going to miss him. He is one of those people who despite having plenty of misfortunes and obstacles never lost sight of the crack in the drywall ceiling that was the way to this trip. He will eventually come home with even more people out there in the world who have a place for him in their heart.
As hard as this has been, and as hard as it will be, I can’t help but allow a little piece of myself to be in awe of what he has set out to do, all on his own. I think thats the most important thing we can do for ourselves, make time for only the thump in our chest. As the lump in my throat still resides and my days waking up with someone by my side grow numbered, I find solace once again in the daily routine of the sun. We all share the same one ♡