Thursday, August 28, 2014

"On the Way Home"

To steal a few lines from one of our favorites, John Mayer: 

Now it's September; the engine's started
You're empty-handed and heavy-hearted

But just remember on the way home (ooh ooh ooh)
That you were never meant to feel alone
It takes a little while, but you'd be fine
Another good time coming down the line

This song, "On the Way Home," has become a bit of an anthem for us.  

So this journey, the one I cannot wait to end, began in February of 2013, when Brian looked into an internship-to-employment opportunity with a company in Boulder.  As long as I have known him, and it has been nearly 20 years (holy cow!!), he has loved the mountains and climbing. Considering that, and considering the fact that he wanted nothing more than to move there when he was 17, there was no way I could suggest he do anything but take the internship, and that was what he did. At the time, the thought of him living away from home for an entire month was daunting; now, after the past year, that's almost laughable.  

By the end of March, the internship turned into a job offer, and, as they say, the rest is history.  Brian came home for a few weeks before traveling with friends and heading west to settle into the condo we would rent in Boulder.  I began applying for jobs - to no avail - and when the school year ended, I packed up as much as I could fit in my car, including the two cats, and went to join my husband in the land of all things wonderful, Colorado.  

After unpacking, cleaning and organizing our second home, it felt like a really wild summer vacation, one that lasted all summer long.  At the end of August (I've come to hate August), I packed the car up again, this time leaving the cats behind, and headed back to Wisconsin.  My immediate thought was that I would work for a quarter and then pack up our house and move to Colorado.  Teaching, coaching, and life got the best of me, and I remained in Wisconsin.  The fact that we pulled into our driveway to find our neighbors' house was for sale didn't help our case when it came to selling our own home, something we would have to do before I could move. 

For the first several weeks I grappled with guilt and loneliness.  I felt horrible for returning home. I should have stayed with Brian, and I was sure everyone thought I was a terrible wife for coming back, a selfish person for doing what I did.  I was equally sure everyone thought I was a failure for not having found a job in Colorado.  As much as I wanted to up and leave Wisconsin, I couldn't help but feel a stronger attachment to our home, the place I thought we would live in forever.  I often found myself thinking about those two school years not so long ago and the feeling I had when I learned I was laid off  - at that time, I was terrified we would have to sacrifice our home, and the thought of losing our home was so scary; now I was thinking of walking away from it.  

Thank goodness for great friends, family, and my Acadec kids, my knowledge nuggets.  I let go of a lot of those emotion via drowning myself in work, coaching, running, and time with friends and family.  The people at Denver International and General Mitchell International must have come to know us by name as Brian and I became airport regulars in our attempt to see each other as often as time and finances would allow.  I think I fought back tears more in this one year than I have in all of the rest of my life (and more often than not, usually in the car on the way to the airport, I lost the battle). I worried about so many things - the house, our jobs, Brian's safety when he was out in the mountains, if he was eating enough, and if he was every buying milk -- he never did!  During one conversation with a very close friend, I realized, however, there was one thing I never worried about, and that was "us."

So many people, friends and family members, have been so supportive of us and have offered words of comfort when I needed them most.  Sadly, one of the more painful things that happened in this 'separate yet together' phase of our lives also remains in the back of my mind.  When we were sharing our plan with family members, one told us that this would surely result in us separating.  To imagine being apart from the person you love is one thing.  To have someone you love tell you that you'll end up divorced is another all together.  I remain hurt by those words but that experience also served as a reminder that no person, no prescribed notion, defines Brian's and my relationship.  We are a stronger, better couple than ever before.  We value each other in a way that I don't know we ever would have had we not experienced the pain of being so far from one another. And this is what I hold onto as we again move into the unknown.  

We hope that this round of living apart is far shorter than last.  In a perfect world, we will be living together by the time I celebrate my birthday this winter.  In an even more perfect world, we'll be living together long before that, before the snow falls in Colorado and closes out the climbing season.  But life isn't perfect, so we are bracing for whatever the next several weeks and months bring. 
Ultimately, this is only a sliver of time in our life together, and we will come through this the way we always do, together.  In the meantime, I thought I would share a few pictures of us being us this summer, of all the best things in life, our life! 

Bear Lake, RMNP 
our first run up the Second Flatiron this summer 
Brewers vs. Rockies, one of the hottest days all summer 
atop the summit of Mt. Yale
celebrating our golden anniversary
Eight years! 
A final summer Flatty run 

Upper Chaos Canyon, RMNP 

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