(Photo: Sometimes you just have to jump in the fountain and dance. Nikki in the Garden at the Garfield Park Conservatory. Credit: Kudzu Planet.)
Sometimes in life we don’t learn our lessons until a little too late. Last weekend, my boyfriend brought me back to reality. This weekend, I’m afraid we’re saying good-bye, and I wonder how much of that is my fault and how much is simply to do with a love that went faster than maybe it should have.
Regular readers won’t be surprised to learn I think the blame is mostly mine.
It all started with the job of my recent lifetime. When you’re looking for hourly gig work and instead you’re hired to manage a public-affairs firm, it’s hard not to take your job too seriously. Not that I don’t write a fabulous press release or know how to manage a staff, but it’s scary to go from working for yourself as a consultant back to a big-time 9-to-5 office environment. And as management, yet (the fools!)
So of course I overcompensated. Ask anyone who knows me, it’s one of my worst fortes. Email at 6 in the morning, work calls at 7 at night. Writing documents all weekend. And carrying around the totally self-imposed stress of same 24/7, letting it take every opportunity to rear its ugly head, especially in the quiet moments. Mostly when I was with Chris.
When we meet in November and right through the holidays, it was bliss between us–a bliss carried further aloft by the fact that both of us spent much of the holidays on holiday from work. It came as quite a shock when, by mid-January, workaday reality started really kicking my ass.
Most shocked of all, though, was Chris, who could see the change. Feel it in every interaction of ours. We talked it through but never really hit the nail on the head. I was grumpy and sliding into unhappiness, and we both wanted to know why.
Chris got there first. Ten days ago, he sat me down and begged me to relax. Let go of work–keep work in the office, during work hours, on work days, and let myself be me again otherwise. Anyone who’s wondered where my blog has been for the past few months, now you know. It was eaten, chewed up, spit out, and its bloody remains stomped upon by the Clovervield-esque monster of the work stress I had created for myself.
Of course, Chris was right. That was it, exactly. And what a relief to him–and to my boss and coworkers who had been watching the whole stress-drama play out, as well–when I let go. For a week, I felt myself come back. My inner spring unwound, I started planning a blogging calendar, my ability to manage at work increased.
Best of all, Chris and I laughed again. Goofy, adolescent, silly things that make us both laugh began to be shared again. Chris smiled again and his big blue eyes twinkled. He told me, “The Michael I met is back”. And for a week, I knew we were moving out of the danger zone.
But last night, at Chris’ 37th-birthday dinner, we ended up right back there, no matter how hard we tried. A difference of opinion and a fear of getting hurt made sure we both got hurt, on an evening that began with us thrilled to be with each other and ended with Chris walking out of his own birthday dinner and driving me home.
It’s so easy to let fear get the better of you. The greatest way to be and stay single in this life is to be afraid of every move you make while you’re living it. There’s a time and place for fear, surely. But the room made for joy and abandon, dancing and merriment, should always be larger. More sturdily built and with a door that’s never locked.
Last night, Chris and I should have danced when we had the chance. Instead, I cried deep into the night and went through much of today the same way. I don’t understand why that is an outcome of being as in love as I am, but then again who ever does?
We’ll be together or we won’t be. I can’t change what will be. I’m sitting and writing this in an Oak Park Caribou, hoping my Scooter Moose shows up to talk and resigned to the fact that he probably won’t. Maybe he will–only time and my laptop battery will tell.
But next time, I won’t forget to be there, in the moment, with my boyfriend. I will be there and I promise I’ll let go. And dance.
* * *
Five minutes after I posted this entry, Chris walked into Caribou. And as it turns out, no matter what we’re letting go of, we’re not letting go of each other