I can't remember if I met him 16, or 18 years ago. Maybe 17. A lifetime ago, suffice it to say. He's my greatest soulmate, and I hear his voice sometimes still, as if it's my own. I mean, it's my voice, like my sense of humor or my spiritual experience or whatev, but I also think of the guy who was my first love as an adult... My Adam, in the language of HBO's girls, if I was Hannah. Which, I don't want to dive too deeply; it's a reference not a metaphor.
He taught me about men, yet he wasn't particularly manly. Big, with hands that could use tools but he was a fine artist and techno-geek early, early before iPhone. He had an artist's soul, a Knowing of The World. Back then, at first, it was romantic but as many romances do, the petals withered. The time through Illinois' seasons drove me to start to reach, however immaturely and brattily but they drove him inward. My drinking was something I no longer wanted. The heavy darkness of winter and the cigarettes of my bored twenties weighed on me. I was heavy. Heavy brow, and body, most of all of heart and I needed, yearned; in fact, felt called to grow. I just knew how desperately I loved him, that I would always have him first and he'd always have alcohol first.
The ensuing years proved in utterly horrific ways, and also in nakedly beautifully honest ways that one thing I'd always believed: He loved me unconditionally. He loved me in ways that I hadn't felt from my parents. They gave me other indescribable gifts, but this devotion, this ability to tell me exactly what I need to hear maybe wasn't always one of them. I'm not innocent in any of that distance. I behaved terribly. I meddled, I belittled and cajoled, begged, and harassed. I had reasons, it wasn't only an immature woman's failure to focus. He sort of never left. He sort of... I dunno. I can't say, really. I did start to grow, slowly acclimating to my new home and to a life without burden, a life that felt entirely my own. I'd never experienced that; I'd always made my choices for someone else's approval. I had to learn to not give a fuck.
Those years I spent hiding in the desert, finding my body, then connecting it to my soul. I played some of the most classic roller derby there was. I fell hard in love with a gentle, too timid Seattle ref and literally years of coasting comfortably odd with my dog and my boyfriend. Until it ended, until I was jarred.
That was the year of everything coming together. I turned forty, and I embarked on a serious yoga practice that's been transformative. I've truly sobered, humbled. And I've taken in Apology: know in when I owe one, and having come from my heart versus not apologizing simply because that's the response someone is demanding from me. This path only works with grace, with a conviction of belief that Humans are all amazing. I come from a place of respect that was lacking.
I recently learned this Adam is sober, that he also went through a reclaimation of self after a derailment. I cried. I felt washed in relief, and in memories that I'd put away. There had been calls over the years, scary deeply drunk calls where I hung up unsure what to do. Calls where I tried to not violate his tenuous trust but reach out to a mutual friend. My worst fears were never realized, and then sometimes here and there was talk of rehab, of understanding the implications of choosing alcohol. But nothing ever really seemed to deeply change. The last time we were in touch was 2013. I was moving to Seattle, still unaware that I was about to get dumped. The way my stomach clenched when I saw his name on my called ID should have told me. I was 39 then. I'd long before known I'd never be able to settle for being loved any less than the way that Adam had loved me - altruistically though at times maybe not so nicely, or gracefully. I matched him with my own swings, and my promise to myself was to accept, to be supportive as a partner.
The Seattle man couldn't stand with me. He wasn't a drunk but he had a belief that he was as incapable as any alcoholic knows himself to be. It was True Love, don't get me wrong. It was also romantic, but more like Wes Anderson - a bit fanciful, perhaps the longing being the heart-center of the romance. It even worked, but I wasn't that self-possessed yet, and he couldn't fight for it, for me to get there. I understood this time. I took the opportunity to rebuild a life, but this time with the wisdom of knowing myself and the confidence that being an athlete allowed me to access.
I don't even really think about dating now. My job is incredible, and I have two cute dogs. I stay close to my family, and I cut out all of the codependent or overly-negative relationships. I completely dig that I sound crazy, or that I spend too much time alone, but it's more that I don't try to explain anymore. I just do what I do. It works for me.
I feel like an enormous karmic balance exists, like age is something to be revered, something to trust. I feel like I can trust that what I see in people is really there, and that I can open my heart to the right people but I don't need to for others. I can walk off comfortably if someone doesn't like me or get me. It's cool. I mean well, always.
I hope my Adam has the same peace. He remains one of the most beautiful, powerful souls. He is talented and wise, gentle and funny. I love him across all space and time, and am grateful I got to tell him, his real sober self, how much he's meant to me. Over the years, I've apologized and so has he. It was a whole next level of love to say thank you. I love life so much!
arizonasarah at 6:58 p.m.