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I quit my sad stories. Now the river calls my name.

Posted Jul 27 2012 10:34am

Yep. I'll admit it. I'm a little slow.

Slow on hills, slow to leave a warm bed, and slow to give my heart away. The first time Hot Husband told me he loved me, I sputtered and reeled and generally was a dork, I'm embarrassed to say. "I love you" was rarely spoken in my house, and approval was only given after a thorough intellectual examination of the pertinent details.

I backed away from a beautiful gift for a moment, but I'm a lucky girl. He held on, and we celebrated our 20th anniversary in June. Break out the champagne and the tissues!

My dear, fragile, foolish heart still holds onto its old ways. Our unexpected move to Kalispell last year shook my anchors in hope and possibility, and I passed the year trying to look cheerful and brave while I was pretty touchy and fearful.

I hunkered in, tentative to make new connections, resentful about the move, defiant in my plodding interactions with my new town. Staying home seemed safer than exploring and possibly having experiences that endeared me to this place.

I tried to explain to other people, without whining, that it was like a second marriage. After giving it all and loving deeply, did I dare risk my energy, my trust, my self again?

Resistance? Hell, yeah.

In rare moments of perspective and wisdom, I could see that I was acting like a petulant two-year-old. I couldn't have it my way, so I wasn't gonna have any fun. The only mercy is that I didn't scream or thrash about.

Then one-year anniversary of our move hit me in a wave of panic. Over and over, my hamster wheel brain kept asking unsettling questions. A trip down to Missoula, a wonderful college town with a vibe of intelligence and possibility that said "yes" to my core, only amped up the internal chatter.

Were we where we wanted to be? Was this job working out? Should be be looking for a better fit? What changes could we make? When? How? What would our dream work look like? Who would we love to work with? How could we make this happen?

After some tears, fear wrangling and exceptionally intense conversations with Hot Husband, I decided to quit. The months of incessant questioning, head-banging, and railing against the upheaval had taken their toll. Finally, I stepped back and decided to be here, now.

I should have a spiritual leader or fabulous self-help book to thank for this glimmer of enlightenment, but I don't. Instead, I have a kayak.

For weeks, I've been holding this boat arm's length. While the dudes have been splashing and exploring, I've been cool. Finally, I realized that it was downright silly to have a boat, live next to a river and tell my crankypants self that I shouldn't-wouldn't-couldn't get out and play in the water.

So I quit the excuses. I hopped in to paddle a sliver of my river. Mine. It hit me that this was my life, and I had the chance to hold it close. Yes, it could all be torn away, again. Yes, every day was a risk. But that night, under evening light, I understood. I could be magic again.

A voice awoke me the next morning. Well, not a voice, but a presence. It was the river whispering to come back, come play. I slipped on a sweatshirt and padded barefoot down to the river. I slipped away, barely breathing in the silence and the chance to see my home with new eyes.

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