I have to start over. At fifty-eight, the age most people are settled in comfortably with their lives and secure on who they are, I have no choice but to begin again. Yes, I have a foundation to build on, one a bit eroded from compulsiveness and egocentric behavior from my years of living in youth. Still, it is strong, having stood the test of time and experiences. Since Death came, I know I have no choice but to wreck parts of the sandcastle I built with Peter in order to erect a new one. I’ll be honest, I don’t know how because I don’t know who I am anymore.
I thought my apartment downtown, Discovery, was going to give me my answers. Getting away from the memories and the reminders of Peter, even the people who only knew me with him, seemed healing to me. While going back to the city I loved seemed necessary. The city drew me in as a reminder of a place in time where I was care-free, and felt cocooned in love and infallibility that youth often tricks us with. The possibilities of places to go, people to see, culture to suck up like a thirsty patron of this world, served as answers to the quest of finding myself without Peter. Only, it didn’t work out that way….not the way I thought anyway.
Let me just say, I needed Discovery. In the months after Peter died, I did need to get away from the memories and everything Peter held in the house and the town. I needed time and space to sort out all of my thoughts and feelings, without any connection to Peter. I wanted to be in the midst of the noise and crowds and chaos that had nothing to do with Peter’s death, but everything to do with the place of my birth. I wanted to run into the arms of my old lover to find distraction and the comfort only familiarity brings. And it worked…for awhile…until it didn’t. While the city lays out in front of me all of its possibilities, two things keeps me from grasping them – loneliness and not know who I am.
When you are given solitude without permission, without want, it can be paralyzing, at least it was for me. Seeing a play, going to a museum, meeting people, even taking a walk along the river front, only feeds into my lonesomeness, only feeds into my deep loss of him. They don’t offer distractions, rather reminders. Perhaps if Peter was alive and I could count on him to be my touchstone, like he always was for me, things would be different. But he isn’t alive. He’ll never be alive again. And that is the cruel, hard fact I face anytime I try something, alone, without him.
When I meet new people, sometimes, the results have been okay. Most of the time, they have been uncomfortable because not knowing who I am erects barricades to the ease I once had toward new people. All of my resolve is depleted and I just want ease. I want people to know me where I am at and not take them to the beginning. Thus, the results are awkward attempts which fuels my insecurities.
Funny thing is though, when I went to Discovery I left the people behind who did know me at where I was at. I left behind a community who reached out to be when I had the flu asking what I needed. I left behind a community who are making cookies and assisting in my book signing. I left behind a community where I can have lunch with, go to Trivia with, see a movie with and just be myself with. A community who knows the underline me and is more than willing to see and embrace what emerges. It is the town where I flee to when Discovery is just too lonely and empty and the solace becomes too much. And after being in Discovery for a while, I find myself wanting to be with the people who knew me with Peter because part of me is because of Peter. Sometimes, when you run away, you only run in circles.
So where I am gong from here? Right now, on this day, two days shy of thirty weeks without Peter, I honestly don’t know. I know Discovery’s purpose was different from what I sought in the beginning, yet it does have a purpose. It has given me, and continues to give me, a productive place to write and think and still look at all the possibilities. It has shown me where I am meant to be and not where I romanticize myself to be. Yet I still have this from-the-belly joy of the city I can’t describe. By the end of April, I have to decide if I want to continue on at Discovery as my six month lease ends. For now, all I’m doing is something I haven’t done, or done little of, since being on this reluctant journey. I’m being patient, taking time to think it through. Perhaps Discovery has given me patience as well.
As I delve deeper into who I am, I have begun to rule out who I am not. It’s part of starting over. I suppose it can be exciting, only, for me, the uncertainty of my definition overshadows any excitement. For now anyway. You know, I have to admit, beginning to live again has been my hardest challenge…ever. One I might not have asked for, but here I am, at fifty-eight, facing it. So let’s go, Life. Let’s go.