I never tell people when I leave. After many years of people not noticing or caring and most importantly, me not wanting to be noticed, I’ve decided to try something different.
I’m leaving Colorado.
The past almost two years, people have been asking me; how long I’m staying, what I am going to be doing next in town, and how I feel about being back.
I had been fairly open and yet pulling a bit of a magic trick around people focusing on me being back in town. I left in a rush. I left a mess, running for my life, not knowing what I was looking for but that I was too unhappy. This couldn’t be why I left Ohio, to end up feeling exactly as I did growing up. This wasn’t the best things could be? Was it?
I have spent my time in AL and my time in Co trying to answer that question. I didn’t want to mislead anyone about my plans because my self-understanding was ever evolving. I didn’t know what I was doing. When the pandemic started, I found myself facing some knowledge I had been too afraid to look at, memories I didn’t want to recall, and realisations about my life and humanity that were as painful as they were hopeful. I finally started seeing the patterns of unhealthy relationships. I found myself and slowly started choosing new things. I uncomfortably pulled back on my relationships to take time to figure out why it felt like so many of my relationships were slipping like sand through my hands.
I explored the intensity of my repulsion towards others and my draw to be close to those same relationships. Was I a monster? A tool? An animal? A human? What did it mean to have a body that was my own and for me? Why did I cry for no reason? I had never hated myself, I tried to be good, so why was I drowning in emotions? Nothing felt right and nothing was working. My therapist moved right after I got to Colorado. My health was a wreck and hadn’t been so bad since college. Top Surgery through insurance wasn’t working out. The loved ones I had, I mostly wasn’t seeing. Every attempt I made to rebuild my life and relationships crumbled. As the end of my lease loomed, and my plans to stay– and stay with a roommate I’d met – also fell apart, I started to question if I was missing a lesson.
Filled with rage at the circumstances, I questioned if the only way for me to achieve peace and happiness was alone. I’d been isolated before, so I have the tools to keep that from eating me alive. I can survive on low human interaction. I can be happy with my cat and my crafts. I can experience the joy of life and the ease of being, alone. By May, I was looking at small studios at the edges of small mountain towns where I had easy access to rivers and woods. I was going to quietly leave but my coach and therapist would know.
It… wasn’t exactly what I wanted. But, it could be!
I planned to move in with friends for a short stint to figure out where and put down a deposit. But, right before I finished bringing everything over, I had to take a trip. I went to The San Fransisco Bay Area. Having given up mostly on human connection working out for me, beyond a few specific folks, I told no one I was visiting. I made no real plans beyond celebrating a loved one’s birthday. My spirit was raw and it had only been worsening over the past 3 years. I was in a constant state of almost tears. But, I got this feeling that once this passed, I might be able to see something different.
While I stayed in town, I met a bunch of new people and noticed that I was subtly being cared for. Be it the blunt verbal permission to just be, to join and to exist. The non-judgemental explanations of dynamics, values, and expectations I didn’t understand. The casual check-ins, and the space when I needed it. The extra space between questions for me to be able to fight with my internal state but respond genuinely instead of the fastest or least impactful response. The helping to bring me back to grounded when overstimulated as well as a willingness to do a little extra work to include me while I was dissociated.
I was allowed to freely express myself as well. I felt free to meander through life and take time for comfort. I smelled flowers on walks and wrote in the mornings at a quiet coffee shop. I cooked with and was cooked for. On the night of the friend’s birthday, I had a set of experiences and realisations that really changed my life. But, I was also still verging on a breakthrough in between crying fits for a few more days, until It was time to fly back. As we pulled up, I suddenly had a deep realisation, that I, for the first time, didn’t want to leave where I was.
I have moved a lot by choice as an adult and shifted where I was staying as a child and never had I wanted to stay somewhere more than to move on to the next adventure. Everything is temporary and most things are replaceable. With so many options in life and the world, I have never felt more pulled by one place more than the idea of more experiences. I have in many ways loved wholeheartedly where I am, but am also comfortable with loss. I’m comfortable with letting go, with letting the story end, with loving the fleeting, rather than trying to capture it.
But, not this time.
Suddenly my isolation, although tolerable, didn’t feel like freedom but a comfortable prison. Like a stagnant pool. A clock stuck at 5:55. Too hot and dry. Everything had been losing its colour and looked bland. I was tired of the culture of Denver, of feeling as though nothing I wanted to do was ever happening, of having to drive everywhere, of everything being so distant and as if my “eh” on outdoorsy things doomed me to not have deep relationships. I was tired of being the only minority and of being so deeply and constantly code switched in a culture I didn’t enjoy. I had been for a while, but suddenly I knew what I really wanted, it was other people. But this time I wanted to be home, no longer a guest in someone else’s house or life. I wanted to be wanted.
I thought I would feel better with more space. More options to leave when I felt uncomfortable. Instead, what I was looking for was feeling comfortable when I was there. I’d been offered that in the past, but I wasn’t ready and it didn’t feel sustainable. I’ve finally done enough work to be able to nervously accept the care that I couldn’t before. So, my plan shifted.
I’m moving to the Bay Area.
This feels both annoyingly stereotypical and also nerve-wracking, as I have always been wary of moving more west and therefore more outside of my conservative Ohioan upbringing. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the best place for me either. I don’t know how long I’ll be staying. I don’t know what this next chapter holds for me.
I’m ready to find out.
P.s. Did you know I am currently running a Gofundme for top surgery?