Once upon a time…
I lived in NYC for 9 years, and most of that time I was struggling like hell. Eventually though, I found success, connection, and a feeling that I belonged there.
When NYC became too easy, I decided to experience myself elsewhere, but I had nowhere in particular to go. I spent the next few years traveling around in search of my new home, loving some places and quickly moving on from others.
Montana. LA. Costa Rica. Thailand. I bounced around a lot, and while full-time travel was difficult, I found that I was able to connect, and belong, in a lot of different places all over the world.
Then, when I was visiting my family near my hometown, I re-connected with a man I had known for over 20 years. Since our first date, it was obvious that the thing between us was important.
Being with Tom felt like coming home.
So I stayed.
I changed my plans, gave up my nomad life, and moved to the one place on earth I had sworn I’d never live again, for love.
We moved into a little one bedroom treehouse in the rural suburbs, about half an hour from Syracuse, and gave it a go.
Tom made me feel safe enough– contained enough– to completely fall apart. So it was that in that tiny tree-house, in that tiny one-stoplight town, I went through some massive healing work.
In the process of death and rebirth however, I discovered that my physical environment made me claustrophobic.
There were times when, mid-difficult-discussion, Tom and I needed some space apart, but there was no space to be had. (I cried in the bathroom more than once, because it was the only place I could momentarily have some privacy.)
There were times when I felt isolated, and irritable, and depressed about everything I gave up to be here. (Especially when struggling to make friends, and interacting with Trump-supporters.)
There were times my body, heart, and intuition raged against my surroundings. I heard their messages, but I felt stuck. Being with Tom felt like coming home, but my actual home felt like being trapped.
Several times I felt like I was being forced to choose between the love of my life, and being happy.
And this is something they don’t tell you at the end of fairytales.
I mean honestly, what if at the end of the story Rapunzel was like: “Fuck being married, I miss my old tower where I had space and privacy”?
What if Cinderella moved into her Prince’s castle and realized that she’s just not a castle-y kinda girl, and would rather live on the beach?
We’re spoon-fed these romantic stories in which love conquers all, and love is all you need. But the reality is that even when love is healing and transformative, merging the lives of two fully independent humans is hard AF.
You’ll have different needs, and priorities, and schedules, and tastes. Sometimes the conflict in those areas will feel like choosing between Love and Authenticity, and it will hurt like hell.
You never hear anything about how Snow White was an extrovert, and her prince was an introvert, and how challenging it was for them to both get their recharging needs met though, do you?
No. We’re taught that love is supposed to be effortless, and that your love for the person should just fix everything.
In my experience, though, it doesn’t work that way.
For me, a successful relationship means identifying and advocating for my own needs, and then communicating them with my partner. Even when it hurts. Even when it’s scary. Even when it’s messy, and ugly, and it feels like too much.
As such, I brought all my distress to my partner in a series of messy, ugly, exhausting conversations. He hated that I felt so unhappy about living here, and neither of us knew if there was anything that could be done about it.
As we talked, and I handled some emotional baggage about living here, we also brainstormed, researched, and explored some new apartment options.
And that’s where this story has a happy ending. (At least for now!)
Tom and I moved out of our tiny rural tree-house on Friday, into a huge two bedroom apartment with a balcony on the 12th floor, right in downtown Syracuse.
Our building is full of young professionals, it’s walking distance to tons of restaurants/coffee shops/bars, and the view is fantastic.
The crazy thing is that after moving in, unpacking, and beginning to decorate, I’ve discovered that the best part of this new apartment is the way it finally feels like coming home.
Like I belong here.
Like I’m safe to expand here.
Like this place will be able contain me.
Only now, with my heart soft and my body relaxed as I write from my new living room, can I recognize how much I needed a place like this; a place that feels on the outside how I feel on the inside.
With spaciousness and sunshine,
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