The weather is in transition here in Colorado which always makes me reflective, slightly melancholy and always nostalgic for the changes wrought over time. I remember September as the time for new school shoes, kicking leaves in the street and the sense that changes were just around the corner.
This week I can’t help but reflect on the changes since last year. No, I haven’t got married or divorced, gained or lost children and, sad to say, that damn promotion at work still eludes me.. but in almost ever sphere of life.. its quite a different life from September 2012.
I lost my house…
I’d been participating in the property game for the last 15 years; slowly moving up from owning a 770 sq ft apartment to a duplex, a bungalow or three and finally a Victorian heap.. aka my ‘Money Pit’. After a year of Home Depot visits, a plumber on speed dial and much explaining to my bank manager, I capitulated and the house declared victory. At times it felt like I was flying a plane that was plummeting to the ground and while I kept trying to ‘pull up’ ‘pull up’ and level out.. well lets just say the plane dove straight into the ground. The roof, the swamp cooler, the shingles, the foundation and even the damn dishwasher ran me out of my house, my savings and even my 401K. I lost every last red cent I’d ever earned or saved. I crawled away from my plane crash of home ownership with moths in my wallet and retired from home ownership. Indefinitely.
I sold everything but my bed and my sofa to fit into my 770 sq ft rental apartment. I see the looks of judgement from some of my friends (‘why does she live here? why doesn’t she own some place?), but I figure that there’s a lesson I learned and its one I treasure. You are not your stuff. As David Byrne once, so wisely, said ‘you are not your beautiful house’. I have very little stuff these days..but I know my value and it is not defined by my lack of dining room table.
The man who wanted to marry me changed his mind….
We discussed wedding bands, vows and timing. He wrote letters full of hearts and passion, undying love and promises for our future. We met each other’s parents and talked on Skype for hours at a time. I realized what people meant by unquestionable love and couldn’t contain my adoration. Yes, we were sickening in our romance but even my mother couldn’t help smile at our happiness. I’d finally met the man I was meant to meet.
And then, the same day I lost my house, he changed his mind. About all of it.
I’ve not heard or seen him since.
A year later I’m still single and closing out a year without a boyfriend. I’ve had dates and ‘entertained’ some gentlemen callers, (hey I’m not a nun) but my desire to meet someone special?.. well its about 19th on my list these days. Right up there with home ownership.
I was completely alone…
I moved house, was dumped and cried into a phone. My best friend holding me up for hours over our spotty AT&T connection. I wondered why I always found myself so alone. What was wrong with me? Well apparently nothing.. except my ability to reach out and say ‘yes’. 12 months on and I’m surrounded by people to whom I said yes. These days I don’t worry about tomorrow or how or why or other people’s opinions.. If it sounds fun, I just say ‘yes’. Living in an apartment introduced me to a whole slew of people of all ages, who largely aren’t spending their weekends driving little Bethenny to ballet or repainting their deck. I said yes to getting to know them and now we gather in the evenings to compare dates, laugh about ridiculous shit and drink wine in the sunset. I said ‘yes’ to Crossfit (after first saying ‘hell no’), ‘yes’ to First Friday, ‘yes’ to a motorcycle and ‘yes’ to things I really probably shouldn’t have. Being more engaged in life means these days I have to choose to be alone.. in fact my life is richer, more diverse and more social than its ever been in my life. When I get sympathy for ‘being alone’ or ‘single’ at 40ish.. I find it pretty funny. When I was married, I was very alone. Single?… definitely not.
I felt like a loser
I’ve always cared way too much about what other people think. When my life started falling apart, I worried constantly about what I loser I must appear to everyone. I’d told everyone who would listen about my impending engagement, I’d proudly posted photos of every house renovation and I’d tried to keep up a good show, even as the money ran out, the plane accelerated towards the ground and everyone (including me) started screaming. When everything crashed, I knew that some would judge, some would wonder and most would pity. Which is what I dreaded more than anything.
Poor loser chick..
can’t find a man..
doesn’t even own her own home…
So I dug my grave and lay down in it…ready for people to start throwing dirt.
But it never happened.
My friends were there to listen, to support and to encourage. Not one (ok, there was one..but only one), was there to judge. Once I realized that my friends, the people I cared about, really couldn’t give a stuff about my fancy house, my $4000 sofa or even the guy who ran away (‘nutjob’).. I let it go. Sure it still smarts to bring someone home and see the confusion on their face when they see that I not only live in an apartment, but one I rent that doesn’t even have A/C or dishwasher.. but then I find they don’t last long anyway. If someone cares about appearances, they clearly haven’t seen my tattoos or experienced my potty mouth.
I was going to be a writer
I hadn’t written anything beyond corporate emails for years and years but my fall back mantra was ‘one day, I’ll be a writer’. And yes, a year ago I was still ‘going to be a writer’ yet taking no action towards ever even crafting a title. These days I am a writer. Its not literature and no Orange prize is coming my way anytime this century.. but I write. Every day. And thats what I love to do. That’s all I ever wanted. Getting my thoughts down on paper is free therapy, making someone laugh on occasion, a delight. If I never write a book or a poem or a play I’m ok with that. As long as I don’t ever lose the ability to tell a funny story, recount an experience or make someone flash with recognition, well I’ll always be a writer…
So as you can see its been quite a year. September 2012-September 2013 was my year of changes. It’s also been a year of adventures, challenging what I believed and really reevaluating who I am. I’m still figuring that last one out, but I can’t wait to see what changes the next 12 months bring.