Brace yourself. The Road Taken is back. For now, anyway. For those of you who’ve been asking, this one’s for you.
Yeah, that thorny path to love, marriage, joy, despair, and finally, the growing-apart thing. Maybe it’s like watching a train wreck. Seeing how I gave up the life I had carved for myself, to join a man who was so far away from me, in more ways than just distance. How we lived together, and then married, and somewhere in those 12 years, “wedded bliss” crumbled into bits of clay and dust, launching me into the hellish ride of my life.
And yet, from these ruins I found something better: Myself.
Turns out, I kept a journal then, and recently rediscovered it. It begins at a time when the two paths were still before me, and I had a choice to make. (Read chapter one, Broken Hearts, for more on that).
We know how it turned out, but this is how it starts. On a short trip to Seattle, in order to determine if G and I could make a go of it. Listen to the troubled heart of this young woman, and tell me, what advice would you have given her?
First Week: I have arrived in Seattle! I feel comfortable with G, but I can’t help but wonder if we’re capable of having a different type of relationship this time, without reverting to old, childish roles. G says I make his life pleasant. But is that all there is? While he is kind, he has no desire to make himself appealing to me. He says he loves me, but his heart just doesn’t seem to be in it. I think, like, me, he just doesn’t want to be lonely. But doesn’t that tell me something?
Maybe it would be better for me to start with someone new—a clean slate. I have changed, and the way he sees me and the way I am, are not one. The me who wants emotional ties, attachments, dependence, wants things to work out. The new, self-reliant me has trouble accepting that. I ought to forget him, start my life in D.C.
The Next Night: I can’t sleep. It’s after 2 am and I can’t sleep. A million and one worries that always seem worse late at night. I am jealous. I am jealous of all the women G’s had. I am jealous of Marigold, who told him it was okay for roommates to sleep together. I am mad that G told me. I am mad that I’d already guessed it.
A Week Later: My trip is halfway over. But the question remains, where do I stand with G? Last night, I confronted him with my feelings. He listened and finally, said that it seems I’m just looking at the negative points, exaggerating them, using them as a weapon for wanting out of the relationship. I’m the one with the doubts, who is too damned scared to stay and work things out. Let it go, he tells me.
I want to cry but tears do not come. Nor will sleep come. I am restless, anxious, tense—tormented. I must leave this madness. He makes me happy but he makes me sad. Since I’ve been here, I’ve gone through a spectrum of emotions.
A few nights later: It is the eve of my departure. Two and a half weeks seems short, but a lot was accomplished. Physically, we outdid ourselves at times; other times we took it easy. We dined out a lot, went to the movies, the symphony, a basketball game, the stores. We spent this past weekend in Vancouver, B.C. and enjoyed the view of the bay, the colorful sailboats, and the mountains. G baked two batches of brownies; one not as good as the other. I took long walks by myself, around the university district. We shopped for records and books, blankets and mints. We saw the full moon dip behind Mt. Baker. We kissed incessantly, made love, got high and listened to Bruce Springsteen. I danced, swayed, moved—and caught his eye.
We laughed, sighed, yawned, whispered, touched, talked, joked and cried. On Thursday, I wanted out of the relationship. By Friday night all doubts were tossed aside as I gave my heart and wondered how I had ever thought of living without him.
G spoke honestly and truthfully. His matter-of-factness compelled me to do the same. There is no holding back. I am affected by him, his moods, his anger, his fears and pleasures. It makes me happy just to be with him.
To watch him move. To watch him in his true form. Reading. Engrossed in a mystery, all other life stops. He bites his fingers, his lips. All other functions cease until the book is done.
Working. Flipping slide after slide, making illegible notations on indecipherable charts. Peering into a microscope, examining, inventing theories. Worrying, and studying journals. He is engrossed and often talks about losing sight of time. Whatever he gives his attention to, it is with the same zeal that he applies himself. It is all or nothing with him.
And he is handsome. Maybe not to all, but certainly to me. He is tall, lean with strong features. His skin is clear and smooth. His mouth, inviting. His eyes tell all—when he loves me, when he’s confused or hurt or bitter. His eyes chart his moods, his passions.
We are bound by words, sentences, comments that we have shared. I have revealed my bleakest self to him and I have seen his. We are not scared away. Our quirks, bad habits and our secrets have been revealed. We accept that in us. We are real to each other.
He has called me his love and his curse, all in the same breath. I accept that. It’s natural. But when he calls me by the special name he’s given me, I want to melt and hug him. I feel vulnerable, and cannot think of a life without him. Tomorrow I leave. I am ready.
I am not ready. I’m preparing myself and should be used to it, but I’m not. Every time we part the pain is alive, intense. We are uncertain what will happen.
Do we have a future together?
And so, I returned to school, and the battle continues in my head, whether to give G another chance, or stay put. During this time, I write the following poem:
“When we are apart,
I remember the hugs,
the warm bed, the jokes,
Your smile and eyes,
I think about how wonderful you are,
When we are together—
Ah, that’s something else!
When we are united, I see how
Painfully clear are the differences.
The differences kill us.”
And then I write this:
“A hunch tells me that I could never realize myself with G, and that when the day came that I wanted to become a whole (full of life) person, I would have to leave him, and it would hurt more than it would now.”
So, after writing this, why did I do it? Just more proof that I wasn’t reading the writing on the wall.
And so it begins, and so it continues.