I drove from Salt Lake City, Utah to Seaside, Oregon today with my boyfriend. All things told, it’s a little over a twelve hour drive. We passed through miles and miles of nothing but asphalt, desert, and whichever little yellow sunflower-like wildflowers spray the side of the road in a cheery salute.
We passed by the Snake River, and saw the marked line where the irrigation from the river water begins and ends in brown, brushy nothingness while listening to a podcast about space. Desert-dwelling creatures might as well be alien for their adaptive resilience, as far as I’m concerned. This soft human’s animal senses are dulled by florescent lighting, gas station Dorito knockoffs, and air conditioning. I don’t think I would last ten minutes out there.
But from the comforts of the temperature-controlled automobile, the ride was pleasant. My boyfriend found a questionnaire for “new couples,” designed to see how compatible we are. Each of us took turns answering the questions and taking in each others’ perspective. We learned we are quite similar for all our differences, though a few questions required point-blank answers with little room for grace.
Is it possible to over-communicate in a relationship? Should some things be left to the imagination, or still yet never uttered? I spoke my truth today knowing some of my thoughts run precisely contrary to my those of my lover. At one point I wondered if I should just shut my damned mouth already…but isn’t the point of a relationship mutual honesty?
We talked in depth about fidelity, opposite sex friendships, and integrity. Is a phone call with hard news better than secrets? At what point does same sex friendship become so-called “emotional cheating”? What are the duties of a faithful spouse?
After a while I found myself clamming up. I began to get a little crosseyed as I realized that pure honesty is, in itself, a colossal form of commitment. As someone who has a hard time picturing herself getting married, I confess this caused me more than a moment of silent terror. I have since shaken the demons back to the shadows.
As a self-obsessed writer, I of course have many theories as to why I am afraid of commitment. (Parental emotional abandonment, premature birth, living on the spectrum, ADHD, bipolar disorder, depression, fear of codependency, fawning attachment style, dissociation from previous damaging relationships…the list is long and eats its own tail.)
I, like all of us, live with many demons. Some days those demons win. I am looking for the 10% break in the dark where clear, blue sky shines through. It is the only way I can keep going sometimes. I assume it’s the only way any of us can get through the fucking day.
I began to spiral into self-doubt (and worse, self-diagnosis) when we reached the Columbia River gorge. Within minutes of being in the Pacific Northwest, it began dumping rain, violently, and a thick fog swallowed the the river, interstate, and the nearby cliff face. The sun burst through bruise-colored clouds like the white light on the inside of a clam shell. I felt the bruise on my heart begin to heal, the thoughts in my head begin to dissipate, and my fears begin to fall short of matching to proverbial “vibe” of my surroundings. Damn it, Nature, but you really are the boss. Out there being all beautiful and powerful while I’m drowning in my own insecurities and wishing I could crawl into bed. Did you really need to blast me with such a spectacular sunset? I get it, you’re the queen, no one can touch you and I am insignificant! Sheesh. If I were even remotely technologically inclined, I would insert a little eye-roll emoji here to really drive the message home.
I guess I’ll settle on the fact that both Nature and I tend towards using ancient technology. She throws the odd hurricane, and I still like to write letters. We’re creatures of habit, she and I.
Anyway, we made it to our seaside hotel. I don’t know if we exchanged a lot or exchanged a little. Only time will tell, but I think we exchanged quite a lot. How do you relearn how to trust a man? Is healing trust even a thing that can be done? All the way?
We made it over 850 miles in one day. Covered a lot of ground. I am still confused about love, but learning. Tomorrow, we go to the sea.