Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Far Away From Here

Somehow, I got to live in the same city with Kate for about fifteen years. Even though I was an adult by the time I moved out to Portland, I was a "young" adult.

I got used to having her close by, though I don't think I ever took it for granted. We never really got to the point that things were so comfortable between us that we could just pop by unannounced, except once in a blue moon. Now, it seems a shame we hadn't.

Kate and Steve had sold their business, decided to go on their own as artists / musicians. Portland was expensive and constraining. They had to figure out their next steps. My sister, Abby, lived in Olympia, a couple hours north of Portland, and could use the help of having the grandparents around with her young daughter. Olympia was between Portland and Seattle so was a great in-between spot for them.

After almost ten years of living just about a mile from each other, we were now going to be a hundred times that distance apart.

It shouldn't matter. The time together and the shared experiences should cushion that gap. But, somehow the delicate nature of our relationship makes these shifts surprisingly scary. Why it's surprising is because in the most core ways, our relationship doesn't feel delicate at all. I know I'll know Kate in my life, for the rest of my life. I know she won't go away.

But, the part that's scary, is that some part of me doesn't know that in some primal way. She wasn't a part of my life, and she could just not be part of it again. And, if she fades away, what about that part of me that became solidified by knowing her?

When I first moved out here almost (crap!) twenty years ago, Kate was younger than I am now and lived more unconstrained than I do now - single, twice divorced, living in a tiny apartment, without children to raise (Abby was already a teenager), working a job she didn't much care about and playing music that she did care about. I didn't think of her as an "adult," just more as an older kind of "me."

But not long after that, she fell in love, bought a house, had her husband's kids to help raise, helped run the business, and became more of what I think of as settled and, I guess, "adult." And despite my own aversion to having that for myself (or so I thought), it was a grounding thing for me. A home to visit, a fireplace, dinner, holidays, even a bed to spend the night if I needed to.

After almost a decade in Portland, I had to move back home to New Jersey to be with my family. But, somehow without my quite noticing, Portland had become a home to me. And Kate had become that center point, the staking for my tent. The luxury I imagined at staying in fancy hotels in Portland paid for by my job left me feeling cold and alone and instead I would stay with Kate at her home in her guestroom.

After just over a year back in Jersey, I returned to Portland. I was in love, bought a home, had a job, got married, had kids. So, another almost ten years and Kate and I have come full-circle in a way. Kate went from independence to domesticity and back to an (adjusted) independence where she's traveling around and trying to find her grounding. I've gone from being just out of school, traveling, trying to find my grounding to being the home where Kate comes to spend the night when she's visiting Portland and fantasizing about having the freedom I did back then.

I guess we're still trying to find our way with each other as we find our ways in the world for ourselves. Still vulnerable, still afraid, even after all these years. But, hey, we're here, and even the distance doesn't get in the way of that.


to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to mothertone


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