I’ve been chasing the wrong feeling in relationships. I’ve been chasing the dramatic and passionately unhealthy connection that initially pulls two people together and then recklessly pries them apart.
Life with you is so easy. There is no light switch that’s been flipped on, but rather a dimmer that’s been turned in both directions over time. It has shined both stronger and softer through the years that you’ve been in and out of my life. This time when you tried coming back and asserting yourself as a key role in what I’ve happily created for myself, I was convinced the light had been flipped off for good. I tried pushing you away.
When I walked away, I didn’t feel like a part had been ripped out of my insides. I didn’t feel any less than whole. I didn’t feel lonely. These are all things I’d felt in past break ups that led me to turn around and run right back to what I was meant to let go of. I’d given everything I had, and when the flip was turned off, I was left tired, insecure, spiteful, and empty handed.
Walking away from you caused a different feeling to arise. Leaving made me feel homesick. Homesick for your presence. Homesick for your incredible emotional intelligence and empathy and goofiness and honesty. Homesick for how easy our lives had fallen back into place like no time had passed while you were halfway across the world.
I still felt whole. I still felt worthy. I still felt complete. But homesick. Not homesick for a place, but for a human being.
Like the smell of a humid midwestern summer thunderstorm.
Like hearing the opening jingle of the morning radio show you listened to with your mama while she put on her makeup and high heels getting ready for work every day before you went to school.
Or when you munch on a cookies and cream Hershey’s bar as an adult, the same you snacked on every road trip you took with your family growing up to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Like the smell of the forest pines when you knew the 12 hour drive was almost over and you were so thankful because you couldn’t possibly play Leann Rimes’s “I Feel Like A Woman” one more time.
Like when you wear your sister’s flannel she let you “borrow” (hopefully indefinitely) or the ring your mama gave you on your 16th birthday that’s traveled with you through developed and developing countries, high and low altitudes, cold and hot mornings, afternoons, evenings, on buses through the jungle and snowshoes through the backcountry, all the while feeling at home, as if your sister is koalaing you in her shirt and your mama is holding your hand no matter where you run off to.
Like watching your favorite TV show where you know the characters so well you feel like you’re hanging with your friends without having to exert social energy.
Like traveling alone in Central America surrounded by Spanish speakers for six months and then hearing English break through the Spanish hum from a row over at the market in San Jose from another American trying to haggle over the price of a coconut and unknowingly paying the gringo rate regardless.
You feel like home. Like a warmth I didn’t realize I loved until I tried to leave.
We fall into each other’s lives as easily the fifth time around as the first. Life with you is easy, calm, warm, and secure. And as I get older, I’m realizing that a dimmer allows life to ebb and relationships to flow where sometimes your person is the focal point of your energy, other times the light grows softer so other areas of your life can ask for your attention. And that the excitement of a light switch flipping on, means it can be flipped off just as easy.