Up to Date.
The words are not lost on me.
And under this, tugs the idea that now that I am “up to date,” am I also “up to date?”
I’m not so sure.
In addition to writing little about my days here in Madrid, I’ve written precious little about the relationship I left in Chicago. Precious being the key word. Because it was. Because it still is. Because I wanted to, and still want to, honor his privacy…and mine.
And also because I was hopeful. Hopeful that even though we’d been doing the dance of “not long distance,” a nameless cha-cha of “I love you, but you live in another country so I don’t know exactly what we are but we certainly aren’t what we were” – that we would do long-distance. That I could have my romance and have my adventure too.
Not unlike my marriage. My marriage that ended for many reasons, among them perhaps that I often appeared more single than partnered. Not romantically or sexually single. But uncompromising. Independent. So when I moved to Chicago, and then Seattle, for my then-husband’s work, more than one friend expressed surprise…thinking I might opt to stay put and stay married.
It’s been painful to find love again and to leave it. Even though we both knew I was leaving from the moment we met. I don’t think either of us expected to tumble so head over heels over head for one another.
Upon seeing this, my friend S. – the master of turning things on their head just to get perspective — has more than once suggested I return to Chicago to “play things out, to see what happens.”
I explain that my lover never asked me to stay. That he has never asked me to come back.
“I didn’t ask you that,” he replies. “I said if you want to go find out about the two of you…then go.”
“I can’t,” I say.
Because I am here. Because I committed to being here. Because I always dreamed of living overseas and it was such a crazy, distant dream that I never imagined I’d do it. And yet here I am, doing it!
Even when it’s hard. Even when I’m not sure that I am here for any reason other than to say, “I tried it. I did it. I had the experience.”
Even though Spain might not be my long-term home. Even though teaching English might not be my long-term career.
I made a commitment — a commitment to myself.
I tell him that I don’t know when I might have this opportunity again.
That I followed my ex-husband’s dream. That it was easier than thinking about my own. But that this is mine. A sometimes vague, not-fully formed but finally-owned fantasy.
“So stay,” S. says. “But it is your choice.”
It is my choice.
And I am reminded of making the very same choice a few months before I met D. Before I decided to move to Madrid…when teaching English overseas was still in the “maybe, just maybe” stage.
It is winter. Sunday morning. I am driving to work, leaving my friend P. at my apartment. He is visiting from Michigan.
P. is a shaman and a writer. He is funny and sweet and sexy. Flirtatious. But P. is not interested in me that way. We have discussed it.
Before I leave the house he traces the space between my eyebrows – my third eye — and kisses me there. Driving, I think, “It is too bad P. doesn’t like me that way…”
And in the silence of Sunday morning, sunlight bouncing off the snow, a voice, mine…but smarter than me, whispers, “His dream is to have a retreat center in Southwest Michigan. Yours is to live in Europe.”
And I realize, for perhaps the first time in my life, I have a dream bigger than love.
I am flummoxed.
And it seems I still do.
It all sounds very Ms. magazine-esque. Strong and empowered. And at moments it is. But at other times, a lot of the times, it feels incredibly lonely and stupid. And yet, the thought of returning to Chicago before my one-year visa has expired sounds more lonely, more stupid.
And I return to the question…am I “up to date?” Here? In Madrid? I see a friend of mine embark on her first Tinder date just weeks after announcing the end of her 20-plus year marriage and I’m pretty sure the answer is no.
Kudos to her. But I just haven’t been “up to” it.
Maybe because I haven’t wanted to let go of “us.” Maybe because it was, and we were, that good.
Maybe because I’m a little bit scared to open my heart again. Maybe because I am dubious about what is or is not out there.
Or maybe, just maybe, because I’m a little bit afraid of losing my dream again…the one bigger than love. So, for now, I’m holding on tight.