Saturday, November 8, 2008

Who Am I, Now?

The greatest irony of life is that, in order to have your true heart's desire, your authentic need met, you often have to trade away your definition of Self and life as you know it. At least, such is the case for me.

I desired a deep, lasting, encompassing love and friendship. After years of questing, that prayer was answered when Michael and I met. In order to have the relationship, I moved from everything familiar and good about my life to that point. Maryland meant home, professional contacts, teaching, my social construct, my family. We moved to Greensburg not geographically far east of Pittsburgh which, by the way, if you've never visited Pittsburgh, is pretty cool and you should make a trip. However, from a tactical point of view, regularly attempting to get there from here? You'd have to ingest Prozac...lots and lots of Prozac.

You simply can't easily get there from here. The road leading into Pittsburgh is called The Parkway. It is, dually, the most appropriately and ironically named stretch of real-estate ever. Trust me when I tell you that you'll spend way more time parked on it than moving along it. Once you get close, access funnels down to a tunnel into the three rivers valley where the city emerges like a living post card. Beautiful yes, but a true ass-pain of a drive. However, I digress; back to Pittsburgh in a sec...

Geographically, I'm also not far from the life I left behind- only three and a half hours. In four years living here, very few of my friends and family have visited. I've talked to some about this. The expectation that we must always travel there bothers me. I am not singular with this issue; ask anyone who's had the audacity to move away and they'll echo my experience. I understand that everyone is there so, if we want to be part of a holiday or special occasion, we must go to them. I get that. But, simply to visit each other and sit in the warm space that's created when you are in the presence of someone you love and miss? No, I don't see why we must always go there.

"It's just easier if you come here. We're all here." Who's it easier on? Certainly not Michael and me. The drive is not shorter for us; it's three and a half hours whether we head east or they head west. I get that life is busy. But, when people tell me their lives are slammed and so much is going on, what I hear is, "You need to understand, we can't take the time. If you come here, we'll be very happy to see you, though." Sigh.

This thinking that we should consistently be the ones to travel? Simply not equitable. So, I don't see people I care about as much as I'd like. Even though it's not so far. I don't press the issue anymore. Please know, however, that you have an open invitation should you want to come to my home and share some time with us. We'll leave it at that.

In my former life, I was professionally well-regarded. I had a fab network! I may not have been able to directly get you to the person you wanted, but I probably knew somebody who knew somebody. That sort of network takes a lifetime to enmass and is not transplant-able in a new location. I was a favorite instructor at Towson University. Several of my former students stay in touch with me which is incredibly rewarding. Here, I'm not yet a professional entity and the universities, so far, aren't interested.

My Maryland circle of friends was large and incredibly interesting. Happily, I'm learning that it's possible to make new friends in new places. I've even made a girlfriend or two. I've also made some high-flight contacts with a few area business professionals, but so far, the right job for me has not materialized. Maybe tomorrow or the next day. I hope and stay vigilant.

Now, back to Pittsburgh; I could probably land a job there. For someone with my skills and background, The City as it's called here, would be the obvious place to search. But, can I tell you? I'm simply not emotionally and physically capable of enduring the hour and a half drive each way every day. If that makes me sound like a loser well, alrighty, then. This is a dilemma; like everyone else, finances are an issue. I must contribute financially. I hate that it's all on Michael; it's stressful for both of us. When we made the choice to relocate for his professional reasons, how could we have guessed? The move has been rewarding for him. Not so for me. I don't know, maybe it's always harder for the one who, 'comes with.'

The past few nights, I've had vivid dreams. I'm standing in each house I've occupied. I'm listening to the current owners go on and on about all the hard work and changes they've made to the house to, 'improve it' and make it their own. In the dreams I vacillate between feeling slightly annoyed to down-right weepy. Especially at my house on Long Green Road. I loved that house. And, while the changes the current dream owner has made to the dream house are interesting, it makes me sad that I no longer live there and that it's changed. It's not mine anymore. It's gone on without me.

I realize that the dreams are my psyche' nudging me to stop wounding myself repeatedly by clinging to my past. Why can't I embrace what's to come with as much regard as what's past? What's wrong with me that I can't let go and start looking forward? It's a weakness of mine, this constant looking backward with longing. Everyone else seems to look ahead excited for change. I don't do that easily. Ever try to drive a car by looking only in the rear-view mirror? It can't be done. You must gaze ahead to travel successfully. How do I learn to do that about living? I need a life windshield...

Who am I now? I know quite clearly who I used to be- I used to be somebody! But, I'm not sure exactly who that somebody needs to be now in this new space. It's really, really emotionally hard work to tease it out. When everything is pulled away and you no longer walk the comfortable, familiar terrain of knowing, you're left with the need to re-map life. The path is unclear to me and I feel lost.

I am sure of a few things- I'm a stranger in a strange land, but how long it continues to feel strange depends on me and how willing or resistant I am to embracing my new life. It's time for me to redefine, 'home.' The Laurel Highlands of Western PA is now home. The area I live is quite beautiful with nice people who smile and say hello. I am the owner of two adorable Scotties, another life-long dream of mine! I have an incredible home that makes me proud. I'm beginning to be considered a friend by some very interesting and kind folk. I'm a stellar communications professional despite the current lack of a position to validate that. I'm a loving step-mother and that meets another life goal because I believe I would have made a good mom. Now, I can test that theory. Since these 'kids' of mine are actually grown-ups, I can also be a friend to Evan and Melissa who grow daily in importance to me.

Central to it all, I am wife and partner to Michael, the man who is instrumental in my reaching some of my goals. And, despite the heavy lifting my life feels it requires at the moment, I'd trade my Maryland life again to live the joy, love and wonder that comes from this defining, pivotal relationship. It is not too steep a trade for such a miraculous dream come true. I absolutely adore this man! More important is the knowledge that he feels the same for me. I will probably always miss Maryland but, Michael is life and home.

Meanwhile, if you know of a good professional opportunity for me please, hook me up! Anyone east of Pittsburgh need a good writer? An excellent communications professional? Care to help a gal create her just-right-life?

Namaste' Till Next Time,

1 comment:

LynnZRae said...

Having moved half way across the country and leaving all of my friends and family behind I can relate to the lack of "visitors." You would think in a city like New Orleans it would not be so hard but...Few have been great, many have not (including immediate family). It's to not take it personally. "It's not about you, it's about them," I tell myself. But on some level is it about you?

It seems at no matter what age you are always looking to find yourself. On one level it is very exciting but on many others it is quite terrifying. The struggles of getting settled with work, with a personal life, with's rough.

I guess I am not the only one huh?!

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