Breaking Up and Stalking Joy

Two pm and the sun finally smiles upon Oakland, California.  But it’s not a sincere, unabashed smile… Nah, it’s the vindictive, effortful smile of one who slogs along with a steel heart thumping from a cage a thousand miles below sea level.  There’s a rumor going around that the season we are currently steeping in is named summer… but I’m not convinced of that.  August in the bay area is a frown waiting to happen if you ask Athena Grace LMNOP.  I want to get back in my pajamas, turn on the heat and luxuriously suck hot cocoa through a twisty straw as tangled as the human psyche.  Actually, come to think of it, august in Oakland is the perfect month for breaking up.  Cold, grey, oppressive and generally distasteful.

Yeah, Mykael and I are breaking up.  But we’ve been tiptoeing around those jagged, rigid and aggressively final words.  Instead we’ve been using such terms as “diverging paths” or “parting ways”… but come on… at the end of the day, the results are the same.  I am going to live in Kauai for an indefinite amount of time and feel a wellspring of enthusiasm for the opportunity to be a single woman (for the first time since I can even honestly proclaim womanhood) and he is going to live “in our friends’ tool shed”, as he so dramatically loves to put it, and create stability for himself.  Is it really a tool shed that beckons him from the visible horizon of his destiny?  Shrug… I’m just gonna stick with the theatrics and say, “Heck yes, it’s a tool shed!”

Now remember, I have earned my LMNOP from the highly acclaimed, cosmically accredited School of Mostly Soft Knocks… but my learning did not include a crash course in the art of breaking up.  In this realm, I still feel like a floundering fledgling.  Last time I broke up, I was concurrently enrolled in a new beginning (left my ex-fiance for Mykael), so I didn’t have to be fully present to the arduous ripping apart process.  I have to say, it’s about as much fun as a trip to the dentist.  But a mostly benign trip.  Not like a cursed root canal… just a heavy-handed cleaning and a flossing that floods your mouth with the twangy flavor of blood and leaves your gums sore and tender for days afterward.  But like a visit to the dentist, it is a necessary evil and is actually an investment in wellbeing and longevity.

We are still on good enough terms… and we still share a home.  But we just don’t bend over backwards on a regular basis in service of the happiness of the other.  (Mykael just came into my bedroom and commented, “That stern blogging look…”  Curious, I asked him, “What does it look like?”  He made a face like a cross baby getting ready to poop in its diaper.  Wow, who knew!  My secret is officially OUT.)  Yeah, so we’ve allowed our lives and schedules become radically mismatched.  We no longer share meals and I don’t cook for him anymore.  He has flaked on our rock climbing dates twice in a row… and we don’t generally share all of our inner processes and micro movements through moment to moment, day to day life.  Sometimes this is easy and natural, and sometimes it makes me ache.  Our hearts only bloom toward one another occasionally, when it feels safe… which is more of a lottery than anything else.  The space of our relationship is analogous to having a shower that only produces warm water some of the time.  You can only hope and pray that when it’s time to get clean, it will steam.  And if you are enlightened enough, you can also learn to appreciate the bracing vibrancy of a good dowsing in frigid waters.  Heck, you might even begin to enjoy it, by closing your eyes and pretending you are standing on a picturesque mountain top under a waterfall of crystalline alpine snowmelt.

This is what spiritual big shots mean when they say that you can not always control circumstances, but you can always control your relationship and attitude toward them.  I’ve been working pretty hard to keep my mind and my heart lifted to All Pervading Goodness these days in the face of… all of it…  Sigh… But I must admit that I have some very unflattering grooves into which I slip.  When the little girl in me feels threatened, damn-shazam does she make a mess of snot and flames and sharp fingernails.  Trust me, I am doing my best to take good care of her…

The other day, during our mini-vacation in Sausalito, Mykael and I were sauntering along the waterfront after a delicious late breakfast.  It was soupy and cold outside which set the stage nicely for the dark cloud that swept right in and shrouded my heart.  In an instant, I was flooded with cold, damp melancholy.  I panicked.  I did not want to feel this way.  But of course, the more I fought it, the more I was on my knees at its mercy.  My eyes desperately swept the external scapes searching for any shred of redemption.  I watched vacuously as an asian couple in fancy clothes posed on the pier as a photographer snapped stiff, constipated shots of them.  Naturally, the woman was way underdressed in her little black, strapless cocktail gown and matching heels.  Mykael guessed that they were honeymooners.  Usually promenading through a scene like this would have been a source of plastic enchantment for me… but not so under the weight of my spontaneous ache.  It comes every once in a while when I am just wanting to sink into the silken space of happily ever after and all I can find is a flawed moment with a man who is mostly pretty cool but our stupid dreams accidentally smashed one tragic afternoon.

But stay tuned, this story has a happy ending, dang it.  You know how I told you that I have this inner coach who gives me perpetual tips on how to navigate life and my inner-space therein?  Well, this mysterious someone that might be me and might not, invited me to sink deeper into the precise experience I was having on that foggy, Sausalito Pier, and there, it said, I would be able to taste the All Pervading Joy.  A quiet joy, independent of emotions and circumstances.  It was subtle… like rose petals amidst a heavy mist.  But I could not deny this whispering joy.  It was a glimpse of my Home.  At last.

This is the sustainable, understated joy I stalk in every moment of my existence.