I settle into a routine of early mornings and early nights. Of rigor and joy in the classroom, work and play after hours, and happiness filling my days. This could be alright sooner than I expected, for longer than I ever imagined. I see potential in unexpected people and opportunities in unexpected places and I dive in head first.
But I also keep him tucked away, in a mock casual way that gives away just how serious I wish it would be. He tells me he misses me too and I lie that it is enough. Later, he walks away from the “us” that never was, and I lie that I knew it all along.
I told myself I would stop with the ultimatums. My life is not a movie, and things are never black and white. But the ultimatums are my desires, laid out in simple terms. They are what I would want if the stars aligned, if what I pictured for my life actually became reality.
So maybe they are good—because don’t I deserve that? Maybe the ultimatums are just a way to remind myself not to settle.
I’ve been back in Houston for two months now. Things are starting to feel familiar again. People are starting to feel like safety nets again. Routines are starting to form, and while all these things would be comforting to the vast majority of the population, I feel less certain than ever about where I am going with this.
Work slingshots me back and forth between the extreme anxiety of expectations and the contentedness of having a job that matters—something that I think was the initial problem in 2012 which sent me away in the first place.
And yet I see the changes in myself and others that you can only really notice after you’ve been gone for an extended period of time. After learning to live overly open and easygoing ,I am now just as closed off and particular… when I feel like it. And I think my expectations for others have increased in a possibly unhealthy way, because when you see how much perfect strangers in foreign countries are willing to sacrifice for you, it sort of makes sense that the bar raises for those whom you confide in.
On a somewhat related note, I am not in love with you anymore. My consolation prize is the opportunity to see you exactly once per week and the sour indifference you leave in your wake makes me hate it a little more every time. I guess this is actually what it feels like to pull a pedestal out from under someone, and maybe I was just always fooling myself before.
Also related: in a moment of loneliness, I invite him to visit me in Houston and our time together on an unseasonable cool weekend reminds me what it is like to fall. And by the time I am reminded that there is still distance and timing and reservations, it is too late.