It’s a funny thing to share a root system with someone and turn out to be completely different trees.
Life is all about context, right? It’s how we know here from there. I know I’m here because I’m not there…or… I’m going there because I don’t want to be here. I’ve got a person to do that with. There is an actual living breathing person in my life who is the there to my here.
This weekend is a great example of how that works. 10 years ago to the date we were as intertwined as two people could be, we had spent 9 years growing up together, had children together, completely gave ourselves to each other, then said, “No thanks.” In that moment, a context for all future decisions was created. He’s not my ex, he’s my context.
I spent this weekend with as many of my folks as possible. I had a rare long weekend all to myself. I didn’t pick up a book or answer an email. I went from friend to friend to friend soaking in all the loving goodness that my generous circles have to give. People who can acknowledge how thinly stretched I am right now. How I’m in a position to mostly receive and not really able to give, and they know how uncomfortable that is for me, and yet they all love me anyway.
On Saturday night, I sat in the audience of a discussion panel on redefining relationships and polyamory in Oakland. As the event went long changing my options for the rest of the night, altering my plans for the evening, I remembered that my context was most likely celebrating his 7th wedding anniversary. He and I broke up on this exact weekend 10 years ago, he got married on this same date 3 years later. Our here vs there ping pong battle has kinda gone like this: He found a new partner, I went to community college, he got married, I transferred to UC Berkeley, he had another baby, and then another, I graduated with my BA, his occupational field imploded, I went to graduate school, he’s celebrating the same relationship he’s been in since the day he and I split up, I’m surrounding myself with people sustaining the authentic intimate relationships I’ve always wanted but have no idea to create. All the while raising our children, sometimes together, most of the time not. I guess they would be the netting in this metaphor. Hopefully not the ball.
I know I’m here because he’s there. Ping. Pong.
And what I’m really amazed at is how unintentional the differences are. It’s not like we set out to live polar opposite lives. It’s just happened naturally. He’s the country to my city. He’s the forever married person and I’m the constant bachelor. He’s the sloppy drunk to my slightly sober. He’s the corner house in a rural neighborhood and I’m the 5 story apartment building with a door buzzer. He’s Bible study and backyard BBQ’s and I’m sexuality discussion panels and sidewalk cafes. He’s 35 going on 43 and I still get carded. Ping. Pong. Here. There.
I think of everything I’ve accomplished on my own, for myself, in 10 years; all of the amazing people who’ve come into my life, the family that has supported me, the unanticipated experiences and unexpected care afforded to my children, and I know that none of it would have happened if I hadn’t made a very specific decision to chose my here over his there 10 years ago. Now I’ve got a decade of difference to compare between us. Context.
And between you and me, I like my here way more than his there.