I’ve cried a lot.
Not that that means much. I’m the crier in a family of criers.
Why, though . . . ?
Because my boyfriend of a year and some change too wonderful to count has decided to “go for it” – to get in his Ericson 38 (that’s a sailboat) and sail away, destination unknown.
And I’m not going with him.
For the record, this is something him and I have always talked about him doing. Me going with him has been on and off the table, but one way or another it was going to happen, and now here it is, happening . . .
We’d only been seeing each other a couple of weeks when it first came up:
We were lying under a magnolia tree in a park in La Jolla. He talked, I listened, I cried (surprise, surprise) but wanted us to keep seeing each other anyways.
It’s the journey, not the destination, right . . . ?
So I can’t say I didn’t see this day coming, as if the motorcycle he rode when I first met him or the sailboat he lives on or the pirate earrings or his ever-changing facial hair “designs” weren’t constant reminders of his fierce aversion to normalcy.
I saw it coming, I've reminded myself everyday that we’ve been together that it was coming, and all the same, it's been like getting the wind knocked out of me.
I am bereft.
(Such a pretty word, isn’t it . . . ? The reft sounds like a wing beat.)
But the hurt is only a part of it. It’s what’s keeping me awake to the experience of letting go, what’s making me suddenly and keenly aware of the thousands of little ways we hold on to the people we love, even to the point of holding them back.
You know that saying, "If you love something, let it go” . . . ?
Well, I’ve always hated that saying, like I’ve always hated John Smith sailing away at the end of Pocahontas – after all that!
I don’t hate either of those things any less now, but I’ve come to understand them as necessary – necessary in the sense that while leaving the beaten path behind is hard, leaving loved ones behind with it is so hard that many of us will never actually be able to take that step.
Have you ever looked at pictures of your parents or grandparents when they were your age, drunk on the arrogance and eternal optimism of their youth with all the time in the world to sink or swim and wondered, “How did so-and-so end up as an insurance agent . . . ?”
Where did all of their dreams go . . . ?
How did that one thing they wanted purely for themselves get away from them . . . ?
The answer is a little at a time, day by day, month by month, year by year as they placated the well-meaning worrywarts around them.
That’s not true for everyone, of course.
Sometimes we just don’t turn out to be the people we thought we were; our loved ones then become our excuses, the reason you didn’t study abroad that one summer or take that dream job out of state . . .
Now that – the idea of being a hindrance to someone trying to do something like I am trying to do something, let alone someone I love – is to me by far scarier than the idea of letting that someone go.
My boyfriend made a decision about the course of his life and – this is what I love most about him – he’s setting out on said course.
Through much thought and preparation, he’s put himself in a position to be able to make this journey. And while there are people who have certainly been taken aback by his decision – someone who actually does what they say they’re going to do, gasp! – I don’t know that you can ever really be prepared for this sort of thing . . .
99% of people aren’t because no one is ever 100% ready.
The timing is never perfect.
There’s no way to do it without hurting anyone.
“You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs!”
(Now that saying, I like.)
Chances are you know somebody on the brink of becoming the person they’ve been building to be, so this post is a challenge to you:
Be the one who pushes them, not pulls them.
Or, if pushing them towards their fully realized self and – sometimes, consequently – away from you is too hard, be the one who just lets them go and finally be that person.
As my boyfriend would say, “A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for.”
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