As many of you know, I relocated to Montana twelve years ago, leaving behind a small town in Ohio called Ashland. For all twelve of those years, I have referred to Ashland as “home,” even though I have made a new home in Montana. I made the trek back to visit my old stomping grounds this past weekend and there are always lessons to be learned – if you are willing to listen.
Lie Number 1: It’s sad that I’m still not married.
I’m not going to sugar coat it – it sucks that I am still not married. It sucks that I’ll climb into the middle of my big bed and curl up to sleep alone tonight. Exhausted, feeling a little raw, and probably needing to be cuddled more desperately than any other night. It sucks that there isn’t a cool husband at home that will pick Bella up from rehearsal, make the kids dinner, help me unpack, and draw me a much needed bubble bath – my back hates me right now. It sucks, but it’s not sad!
I understood that my Nanny wanted me to get married and I’m not sure she cared all that much about who the husband was. I realize that sounds dramatic but she was rather ridiculous with her constant push for me to find a man. She wanted me to be happy, I know this, and she hoped that I would choose wisely – but let’s be honest I don’t have the best track record. So, here I am, still unmarried.
Over the 36 hours I found myself in Ashland I was asked no less than a dozen times if I were married. I just want to make note that I am Facebook friends with at least half of the people who asked me and while I am not one to make any grand Facebook relationship status update – I am pretty confident that if there would have been a wedding, I would have plastered those fabulous photos everywhere. I mean, duh!
I answered everyone with the kindness they didn’t show me and was hit with a variety of responses. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Should have just stayed in Ashland.” – unmarried 40 something dude
“Oh that’s sad for you and the kids.” – relative
“Don’t like cowboys?” – married”ish” male
Want to know something really cool? I’ve also never been divorced either. I’ve never invited all of my friends to consume mass amounts of booze, wear unfaltering matching dresses, and make bad choices all while watching me make the worst decision ever just so I could check off an item on the “to do” list.
This isn’t meant to sound like I’m bashing marriage or divorce. I’m just saying that if I would have married anyone I have ever dated I wouldn’t be living my happily ever after. So, while it sucks that I am still single – it’s not sad, and I don’t need your pity. But thanks for attempting to shame me into feeling like I am less.
Funny note – my “if we aren’t married by the time we are 40 buddy” got engaged while I was in Ohio and I couldn’t be more excited for him. So I guess I really am out of options. Shit! Jokes.
Lie Number 2: I chew men up and spit them out.
In the past month, two entirely separate groups of friends, one set from Montana and one set from Ohio, who have never met each other, used the following phrase to describe me. “You would chew him up and spit him out.” Now, the Montana guy isn’t of any interest to me. I’m sure he’s a sweet man and I’m not totally unaware of how men look at me, but, I also wasn’t interested in exploring anything with him. I agreed with the statement because I basically did that to him during our work session with our mutual client. I like to be in control, hence the chew.
Now the second instance – well that is different. I don’t want to chew him up and spit him out. I don’t want to hurt his feelings in any way. I know I am guilty of doing this in relationships. I ran into my “Brad” while I was home and I can still see how much I hurt him. He’s not pining for me or anything. It’s just there, in the reluctant hug that then lasts too long. The way he looks at me. Like he wants to just tell me that I was a whore and treated him awful, but also wishes I would tell him I made a mistake – that he was the one that got away. I chewed Brad up from the minute I met him and I most certainly left him in a million pieces.
I don’t ever want to make anyone feel that way again! So, when it came up again at lunch yesterday, it gave me pause and probably screwed with my head a bit. I make poor choices in the guy department. Or at least I feel like I use to. Not to say I have had a massive moment of clarity and suddenly posses a Magic 8 Ball that gives me all the answers. I am just cautious with my heart now. And with others’ as well. I’ve also discovered how to be alone and I recommend that you figure this bit out before you ever get into a relationship.
This constant chewing is really just my way of protecting myself. If I am always in control, pulling the strings, putting up the wall when it gets scary – well, it feels like that will prevent me from getting hurt. I chew men up not because I can, but because I don’t want to be the one left in a million pieces because I have been before. I’ve been the invested one that was left wondering when it went wrong, what I did wrong, when more than likely the answer was nothing.
Truth Number 1: Whitefish, Montana is my home, at least for now.
After twelve years, it is still good to go to Ashland for a visit. It has changed so much, but so have I. I will always have fond memories of my 27 years living there, but Montana is my home now, and for the same reasons I called Ashland home for so many years after I left it – it’s where I feel the most loved, relaxed, and like I have a place. It took more courage than I thought I could ever possibly possess to move 2000 miles away from everything and everyone.
That courage is what helps me navigate trips home that sometimes feel icky. That courage allows me the grace to answer hard questions that no one should ask me. That courage lets me write this blog. That courage will take me everywhere I need to go.
That courage currently has me on a plane home. Home to the mountains. To the lake. To starry skies. To no humidity. To hiking tights and puffy vests.
To my friends. To my family. To the Starbucks that gets my coffee order right every day. To hugs and puppy kisses.
That courage will find me on more planes in the next year. On new adventures. That courage will let me loosen up on the controlling bits. That courage will let me finally stop being so hard on myself.
The mountains are calling and I must go…….