i spent last week beside the ocean with my son and my boyfriend. i slept every warm night allowing the air-conditioning to escape through the open sliding-glass door so i could hear the water's soft roar. i sat every afternoon—for who knows how long because the peaceful feeling was near-meditative—in the shallowest end of the tide, dropping wet sand through my fingers while my son scooped and piled more of it into his bucket. i ran in the mornings on the hard-packed sand, with my son in his stroller contentedly, silently staring out at the ocean. we're at peace with the water, my boy and i.
last night, not many days after the water and i parted ways, love and i parted ways, too. again. i've had so many agains. i've counted and recalled them many times over the years. are they failures? or aborted attempts? a little of both. endings, all the same.
how did i grow into this woman who has such trouble giving and receiving love? i certainly wasn't raised that way. i also wasn't raised to be brave enough to move away on my own, to choose a career path with no certain destination, to be okay without a man, to become a single mom determined to hold onto her dreams rather than give in to the pressures of conceding to circumstance. i'm not sure how i, a product of a traditional, conservative, semi-sheltered upbringing, came to be such a contradiction to my roots. in some ways, that is. from my parents i've inherited an unsurpassed example of giving to others. i haven't carried on that example to the degree that i'd like, but i've had my moments over the years and hope that i've made a positive impact on others' lives, whether it lasted a few hours, a couple years, or a lifetime.
right now, i'm back to the deepest trenches of being me. doing-everything-the-hard-way me. i could've stayed. with him. the man who has treated me and my son with more respect and love than i ever fathomed was possible. he could've stayed, too. with me. the creative, moody, unsettled girl whose singularity, he said—although inextricable from her complications—was what he most liked. sometimes, in the middle of nothing at all, i'd crazy-dance in the kitchen at my parents' house and he would smile—that big, beautiful, warm smile of his. isn't it the most massive, insuperable, intolerable problem that love isn't enough?
it isn't enough. i've had love a few times. fleeting, always. here one minute, running for cover the next. love, the frightened deer. only to be admired from afar? so far it seems so. still, even in my inexperience, i know enough of love to know that its role in making a relationship work isn't as simple as its presence or absence. and i'm brave enough to act on that knowledge.
i've lost me in the past two years. i've been looking for her, in the limited ways the resources of this town, my wallet, and motherhood allow. it's been a slow search. and for the past year, i could've rediscovered her as part of an us. i tried, except there's a part of me that still wants to grow freely, to explore the plans i've had for so many years, loosely laid as they were. as much as i'd like to adhere to the admonitions of facebook inspirational posters that tell me to give up the life i've planned and live the life in front of me, i can't. i won't. i refuse to believe that my gut is wrong.
today my heart is a shade lighter, a little drained. in the days, weeks, and months to come, i hope to give it color again. i hope to feel less sorrowful for leaving love behind. i hope he'll remember me fondly, as i will him. no matter where i end up, i'll never forget what it felt like to be adored effortlessly for the very first time. i'll always remember him as the first man who loved my son. and i think, like the two other loves i left behind and have never forgotten, i'll look back on knowing him and not regret a thing.