OK. It’s Sunday.
I wrote this yesterday while in-flight.
It’s LONG because it was a LONG flight!

It was a bittersweet departure. For the past week, as D-Day approached, Steve has been especially sweet. The other day, when I was working late trying to tie up all the loose ends at the Yob, he came to my office, brought me dinner, and sat with me while I finished up. Yesterday when we were talking over details of the trip, he just broke out in an almost tearful, “I’m really going to miss you!” Today he’s manning a table at the Sonoma County Solar Fair, and had lots to do to prepare while I was preparing for the trip. Still, he got up early, started the coffee, and woke me up at 4:30 so he could drive me to the airport, an hour and a half trip each way, before heading to the solar fair.

We’ve been apart before, but never for this long. Sometimes when I’m gone all day at work, I come home and ask him if he missed me. He usually says no. He’s been busy with his own business, focused on work. We have this little routine. Whether Steve’s ready to party or not, I walk in the door and Wallace awakens from his dreamy trance, races upstairs, barking, howling, running in circles, wagging his tail, and putting his head in Steve’s lap, as if to say…. Mom’s home! Let’s go outside and play!!! It’s a huge interruption in Steve’s focused thought. I follow Wallace, plop on the comfy chair in his office, and ask how his day has been. He’s soooo patient!!!

He’ll often wrap up what he’s been doing and come downstairs. We throw the ball for Wallace, then sit, sometimes with a glass of wine, and I tell him about the latest drama at the Yob. There’s always drama. It keeps him entertained and helps me decompress and regain my sanity.

I had about given up hope for this trip early in the year. There just seemed to be no way to make it work…. The original plan was much more elaborate. All the little circumstances I had counted on fell through and I just felt this heavy despair. Who am I to dream of taking a cross country road trip to visit my girlfriends for my fiftieth birthday? Who am I to ask for such a long time away from my Yob? Who am I to write a blog about my adventure? No one will want to read it. Who am I to expect my friends to take time away from their lives to play host to me? Who am I to leave my husband at home alone while I go and celebrate my birthday away from him? Who am I to spend all that money, when he’s working so hard to bring in an income? Oh… I could go on and on…. I told Steve I thought we should plan something simple at home. He came back to me and said, Honey, I think you should go. Really? Yes. You’ve dreamed about this, I think you should do it. But… but… but… Let’s figure out how we can make this work. (I love those words.)

We had to adjust the original plan, which really was a cross-country road trip. Alas… that piece will have to wait. Instead, we focused on the parts of the trip that were the most precious to me… my girlfriends. Period.

First Stop:
Durham, North Carolina – my True Companion, Kim.

Kim and I shouldn’t be friends. Really. We are as opposite as two people can get.
And we had an unlikely beginning.

We first met in 1993. I had just completed what is now called the Breakthrough Training and had signed up for their leadership program, Legacy. A week before it was to start, the deep female voice on the phone said, “My name is Kim and I need to talk to you before Legacy.” OK, I said. I thought she was from the training organization and this was a preparation call. She said she needed to meet me in person and could I meet her at the Lyons?

OK, I said. No big deal.

So I went to Lyons at the appropriate time, got a booth, and waited, and waited, and waited. I drank my coffee and waited. Finally, I was about to leave when this woman appeared. She had been waiting for me at a different table, wondering where I was…

I remember her crying, she insists she wasn’t. Either way, she was really intense. Now, you have to understand, I had not yet learned how to be with emotions, mine or anyone else’s. She started talking. I was confused. Was she a team member for Legacy, and was this how they did their support conversations for participants?

So I just listened.

She sat down and blurted out, “I just need you to know that I hate you. And I know I shouldn’t but I do. I can’t help it. I’m trying not to hate you. But I can’t stop hating you.”

WTF? (I didn’t exactly say that, or allow myself to think that way… back then.) but that was the equivalent of how I felt.

Turns out, one of the new friends I had made after doing the Breakthrough, happened to be her recently ex-BF. I understand now that she was grieving the loss of a long-term relationship, and focusing that grief on me. Back then I understood nothing. I only knew that when this woman spoke, for the first time in my life, I experienced a raw honesty, depth of feeling, and focused passion, that shook my shallow little controlled good-girl skeleton. She was a robust soul, and by comparison I discovered that my own protected soul had grown small and weak and timid. I was overwhelmed and attracted at the same time, terrified that we would be doing this three month leadership program together. I was apprehensive yet excited about what might show up.

Three months later, our hearts were knit with a bond that can never be broken. She chose to love me, even though she hated me. I thought it odd that she paid attention to me at all… but she was doing her grief. In the process, she discovered strengths in my soul that I didn’t know were there. She called me out to be authentic, to allow the woman who had been locked up inside to come out, to play, to dance, and explore. It was with Kim that I smoked my first cigar and drank my first glass of whiskey.

It’s odd really. A year and a half later, when I needed to choose an adult companion to help me take my students to Northern Ireland, I chose Kim. What an adventure that was… but that’s for another post.

When she moved back to Florida, I felt like my heart was being torn out. I took it personally. She wasn’t going back to be with her aging parents, she was leaving ME. I grieved from the depths of my now developing soul. It was so painful, yet in a strange way, so deeply satisfying too. I could weep. I could feel. I could grieve. And I could love. What a gift my true companion had given me.


4 responses to this post.

  1. I’m loving the history as well as the soul – hurry up with the next installment. :=)


  2. Posted by Little Sis on June 20, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    What an awesome story! I had no idea that is how you two met. It all makes since now! lol Thank you for sharing. It was beautiful. Enjoy your time together.


  3. Posted by Wallace's Love Slave on June 20, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Great. Wow. Brings back such memories. Enjoy! (I imagine movies, chocolate and wine will be on the agenda!!)


  4. Posted by Kim on June 21, 2010 at 11:37 am

    It’s not like I’d been doing this sort of thing on a regular basis, it was new to me too! As hard as it was for me to confront myself and confess to you – it was SOOO much better than having Dan T. do it for me!

    My usual M.O. would have been to passive-aggressively avoid you from afar. And miss out on our wonderful hate/love/hate/love relationship for all these years. 🙂


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