I used to have a whole other life. A life I kind of miss sometimes. Especially on nights like tonight, when I’ve had a glass (ok, two) of wine and taken a trip down memory lane via an old friends website. I don’t wish I could go back, not really, but I do fondly remember the good times.
Anyone who knew me before, or knows me now, would never figure me for that life. I spent almost every weekend camping in the backwoods, sleeping on either the ground or in the back of a pickup truck (and, a couple of times, even in the passenger seat of said pickup truck). I would take a shower Friday morning, go to work, leave right after work, and not take another shower (or use indoor plumbing of any kind) until Sunday night (did I mention it was usually 95 degrees in the shade?). I would climb all weekend long, until my arms and hands and legs and feet ached. I would go to work Monday morning with scratches and bruises all over my body, cracked nails, and a big smile on my face, because it was so much fun.
To answer your question, yes, there was a man involved. I probably never would have done that, every weekend, if it weren’t for a man. But it’s not that I did it for him. Although, of course I did, because he and I never would have worked if I hadn’t. But I actually did enjoy it for a time, and I really did have fun. I still liked indoor plumbing, but I put up with not having it, because I had such a great time.
Then things changed. They always change, don’t they? It stopped being fun, and started being a chore. It stopped being about going out and having a good time with friends, and became about how much more you could do, how much better you could do it.
There were other factors. A move halfway across the country with a man I had known for six months. An accident along the way that changed said man. A very lonely existence in a new place, with no family, no friends, and a man who wasn’t the same, a man who was angry at himself and shut the rest of the world, and me, out.
Is it any wonder it didn’t last?
I mean, there are so many reasons:
- The person I was, the person I really was, was not what he wanted in a girlfriend. That’s not to say I was faking anything, or pretending to be something I wasn’t. But he introduced me to a whole new world, a different world, and I threw myself into, excited about the possibilities. I was willing to explore, willing to see what it had to offer, and in the end, found it wasn’t really me. I didn’t know that at the beginning, though. I discovered who I was at the same time he discovered who I was.
- The accident he was in, it was a horrible accident, but he walked away. He had some injuries, of course, injuries that didn’t allow him to pursue his passion. He had moved specifically to be closer to that passion, could see it out his window (literally), but couldn’t do anything about it. He…was not the same man I knew before. And I tried to be understanding, I truly believe I did my best, but after a while, I lost my patience. “You rolled your car doing 70mph. It flipped ten times. You walked away.” His response: “It would have been better if I had died.” It’s hard to live with that. And by that, I mean that person, that mentality. It takes a toll.
- I was so alone. So very alone. I had left everyone, everything, I knew, moved 1200 miles away, with no job. He was all I had. But he was gone. We engaged in almost a reverse tug-of-war: I clung, he withdrew. I clung more, he withdrew. I clung harder, he withdrew. I never felt (and I still don’t feel) as if he really ever appreciated what I was going through. I was drowning in a pool of loneliness, and his own self-loathing just helped to weigh me down. I was unemployed for four months, sending out 15 resumes a day, and I think he didn’t believe I was really trying.
- We had seriously differing views when it came to money. They say more marriages break up over finances, and I believe it. I was raised to be money-conscious, but that it was okay to splurge on occasion. He was (I’m sorry, there’s no nice way to put this, and besides, he would tell you himself) cheap. Really, the warning signs were there on our first date, when the manager of the restaurant came out to make sure everything was okay, because he had only tipped 3%. I just refused to read the warning signs…and started carrying small bills and laying them on the table when he turned his back.
- I stopped climbing. He urged me to continue, encouraged me to go out and have fun, but it was hard to leave him behind, knowing that it was more his life than mine. I felt so guilty every time I did it. And on top of that, I found out that I really enjoyed climbing with him – not with just anyone. I trusted him, we worked well together, and the comfort level, the joy, wasn’t present without him. I didn’t enjoy climbing without him, and (ironically) I didn’t enjoy him without climbing.
He’s a wonderful man, a wonderful person, and the more distance I get from that situation, the more I believe that. We just weren’t right. There were so many signs pointing to it, but you don’t see those until afterwards. I was too happy, too in love, too sure that this was it and he was the one and we would live happily ever after forever and ever.
I hate him just a little bit, for different reasons. But most of the time, when I think of him, I smile. He taught me so much, and was such a willing teacher, so excited to share information and make everyone around him a little bit better. But he was never superior about it. He would teach you something, and then turn around and praise you for figuring out something so difficult. “But you taught me that,” I would say. He would smile, shrug, and say, “I just gave you a couple of pointers.”
Mostly, I thank him when I think of him. Because (and I know this without a doubt) I would not be HERE if it weren’t for him. I would not live where I live, have the friends that I have, have the life that I live, if I hadn’t moved with him. He took me 1200 miles away, so I could move another 2200 miles.
You have a special place in my heart, Spiderman.