My dad has said to me a few times in my life as I sit across from him with questioning eyes, wondering why things went the way they did or why I did what I did, “wouldn’t it be nice if we learned from our successes and not our mistakes”?
Yes. Oh yes.
That would be nicer.
But nothing seems to hit home quite like the, “I’ll never do that again”.
I got married. And then divorced. All in one fast sweep.
Walter and I met when we were 17 and 18 and had a great friendship. We went to college together, we traveled together, and we picked out possible love interests for one another. It was never each other. It wasn’t until the ride that Walter and I felt something different. We were in an odd situation and things just happened.
After the ride I went into a sort of hibernation for about a year and a half and about 10 months into that I was married. We jumped the gun. We let the emotions of the ride and what we had gone through together wash away reason and warning. And Walter was one of the only people I felt comfortable with at that point. I was tired, drained, sad, and I felt so disconnected from myself that I didn’t know what to do.
The after math of the ride is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time and I don’t have the words put together well enough in my mind to write about it just yet. The ride was such a beautiful, incredible time in my life, but it also took every ounce of strength I had. Eventually I was pulling from my reserve tank and by the end of it I felt like I had nothing.
When I started the ride I had so much energy and wanted to get stories and give as much as I could to people, but about half way through it was all I could do to just get in the saddle and push on. I didn’t want to talk much and it bothered me that I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to sleep most of the time. Sleep. Eat. Ride.
And in my inability to share with people and to receive from people, I lost myself. I lost myself so completely it scared the life out of me. With Walter I was okay. I think I felt like he understood it. I didn’t have to explain, “this is why I am the way I am now”. He knew. He knew better than anyone. Except my mom. Because mom’s know everything, but I was too scared to talk to her. Oh, if only I had.
We talked about not going through with getting married before the wedding, but it was too late. Walter said we could rip up the paper after if I still felt that way, but that’s easier said than done.
After only being married about 11 months, my mom and sister and I took a trip to Spain and walked the Camino de Santiago. Little pieces of who I felt I was before stirred in me again and I felt something begin to shift. It felt like a catharsis and forced me to re-evaluate where I was and the choices I was making. People on the walk were gentle and doing it for their own reasons. Everyone was so self motivated and not really there to socialize. Of course that’s a huge part of it, too, but the focus is more on your own soul. This was exactly what I needed. I needed to be reintroduced to people, but then keep walking on alone for a while and maybe meet them in the next town for an espresso.
When I came back Walter and I talked about separating and we’re now divorced. We both knew it was the right thing to do, the only thing to do. I felt more like myself again after we made this decision and in ways Walter said he did too. I think we both wished we had left things the way they were before the ride because we had such a fun, adventurous friendship, but we went ahead and got married. Dammit!
You know, I could have avoided all of this writing and just sent you to watch this movie because it is so incredibly close to our experience. I saw this movie soon after Spain on the airplane, flying back to NH from CA and I couldn’t believe it. I cried and cried and I felt better as well to see a story so much like ours. I mean, SO much like ours. It’s a great movie, too. Definitely watch it!
Or at least watch this preview:
Right now Sojourner is about 10 feet from me outside my bedroom window as I type this. It’s fall in New Hampshire and I feel at peace. Walter is doing so well back in Rhode Island. He’s working at a couple of different farms and says he’s really happy. We don’t talk that much anymore which is sad, but that’s just the way these things seem to have to go.
There is so much more to say and explain, but it’s going to take time to sort out all the words. I have said I’ll write a book about the ride and I will, but I have been so focused on the after math and adjusting to life after the ride that it’s been a long time coming. I have a feeling the after math will be as interesting as the ride! (For me anyway!)
I’m sure most of you reading know the song, “The Way We Were”. There is a line that says, “If we could do it all again, tell me, would we? Could we?”
And the answer will pretty much always be, “no”, I think. Because each decision we make switches our path at least ever so slightly and leads us somewhere else. If you change one thing, so many other things would disappear, too. It’s hard to forgive yourself and move forward, but you’ll be better for it and so will the people around you who care about you.
I ended up getting a gorgeous studio space for my leather shop in the Tannery Marketplace and met someone down the hall from me. We have such a beautiful and sincere love for each other and I want to be able to share that and not feel like I am held captive to the story of the ride. Not that anyone holds me captive other than myself.
Our experiences, good and bad, make us more aware and more understanding of life and others and for that I’m grateful.
So…please no “sorry’s” or sad faces! This is a good thing. 🙂
Thank you for being so supportive.
Thank you for being you.