The sun is a ball of liquid fire. 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit on its surface, 27,000 degrees at its core. It is only from an average distance of 92,955,887.6 miles away that we welcome it as a benevolent, life-warming source.
This is how I’ve come to feel about the experience of loving her. At a distance of 543 days and 13,052 hours, all of love’s fires, the passionate ones, the hurt ones — the wishful, longing, frustrated, glorious, hot, horrible, surprising ones — have gone out. Even the smoke has cleared.
There are only stories and memories and, at least once a day, a feeling of gratitude. Love, in retrospect, just shouldn’t have been that hard, critical, or heartbreaking. For every day we soared together perfectly, it seemed like there were at least ten days of damages and repairs.
Love isn’t anything at all like a car, but I can’t help recalling a pretty green convertible that I once owned for a short time. It was an amazing car to drive — 5 speed, fast, sleek and solid — but every other week it was in the shop needing repairs that I could barely afford. I invested in parts and labor anyway, in the hopes that eventually all that needed fixing would be fixed. Despite my efforts, the car never stopped bleeding and it wasn’t long before the joy of owning a convertible was trumped by the insecurity of never knowing when it would break down or where.
No, love isn’t at all like a car, but it is an investment. I put everything I had into loving her — heart-mind-body-spirit — and hoped for a return that would last a lifetime, but it lasted less than a year. Nine months of life-changing joy, giddiness, discomfort, worry, curiosity, fear, excitement and anticipation — which ended in pain and a long period of mourning.
I’m no longer sad, though. While I’m not given to mysticism and beliefs like “everything happens for a reason”, I’ve come to appreciate that even the most compatible lovers don’t always make the best partners. Ultimately, she and I wanted and needed different things in the long-term. We had different visions of the future. Within days of our breakup (and it possibly could have been before, but it doesn’t matter anymore), she found someone who fit her vision better than I did. I felt very hurt by that at first—meaning my ego found it hard to process that I was so easily replaceable—but I can say now that I’m genuinely happy for her. I’m also happy for myself.
Since leaving on my road trip in October of 2009, my life has been a series of growth-spurring evolutions that are almost always preceded by some challenge or setback. I’m not sure how to explain why this feels good and right to me, but it does. Logically, I could say that much of my life has been challenging and wish myself done with anything that feels like an uphill climb, but this is different. I don’t know why; it just is. Maybe it has to do with age, or having a level of encouragement and emotional support I’ve never had before — maybe it’s as simple as knowing I’m finally on a path of doing what I love for a living — probably it’s all of that and more. In any case, even the biggest challenges don’t make me feel as anxious or dread-filled as they once did. I’m even excited about some of them, like moving to a new cottage and finishing my second book.
I think, too, that taking on all of these challenges might not be possible if I weren’t alone. In a relationship, I have a need to pull my own weight as well as the desire to be an equal participant in the things my partner likes to do. Which is a problem when you’re a struggling writer dating anybody who wants to dine out, travel and, well, spend money.
So I feel like I’m at where I should be at right now. I see being single as an opportunity to write, grow, and to face the challenges that I hope, one day, will result in me becoming the kind of person, writer and even life partner that I want to be.