Note: this was originally written May 14th, 6 weeks ago.
I thought I wouldn’t have to do this again. Not alone. Build a future from scratch. Carve it out of a big block of nothing. It felt so comfortable. So safe. At least there will always be Michelle. That’s what I thought. Now I’m moving out. She’s kicking me out. Get out. Get out of my life. Go away. Tyler doesn’t live here anymore!
I’m going to live in the front house for six weeks, and we’re going to try to get to know each other again. I feel like I’m a burden on her. An emotional liability to be written off if possible. Hazardous psychological material. Who would want to get to know me? And so the thought of going off again, into the world, to try and make a place for myself alone, seems impossible. But at the same time, it seems like that’s what she’s trying to get me to do. Think about being apart. Dream about it, and hope it’s not just a nightmare.
Part of me wants to give in to the fantasy. What would I do if I were totally unattached? Where would I go? What would I try? Would I backpack all summer in the Sierras? Would I study Spanish again in Guatemala, and then bike through Latin America? Would I teach myself a little bit about computational biology, and try to see what kind of jobs were floating around the Area of Bays? Buy a tiny condo in the city, and call that place home. The place that I return to. Renny and Sally would be there. Renny, soon to be absorbed by children. Sally, familiar and fragile. And who else? Bill and Jane, but too far away. Arjun, but not so personal. Dena and Frank and Marilyn, but soon to be banished. Ian? Or maybe not. His path is hidden too. How do we bootstrap our societies? Aikido and bicycles. Politics, but more local and optimistic and unabashedly urban. A different kind of science, with different people.
Or would I go to Boulder? To half-time Bryan, and CHAOS all over again. The same, but different; you know. Boulder, minus grad school. Boulder for its own sake. Could I find a job where I push the button that says ‘Go’? Maybe Norm needs a bio python person. Maybe Cher could get my foot in the door at RMI. Maybe NREL would actually get back to me this time. Maybe Adam still needs a modeler.
It all makes me want to cry, but I want to cry with Michelle. We’re not crying to each other. We’re crying away. We’re crying separately, in both space and time. We’re not crying and holding each other. If we were really working toward being closer, it seems like we would be.
Is this how lonely I made you feel? Did you not believe I would come back? Did you think I’d gone away forever? I’m so sorry. Home feels like a place I come back to. People I come back to. A person I come back to. Because I go away sometimes. But I’d rather not go away alone. I’d rather not go away in sadness. I want to go away with joyful togetherness, and then return. I want to go away sometimes like Baja, not like Thesis. Not like finals. I thought we’d done that together. I thought it was wondrous. We could do it again, and again. It doesn’t mean leaving home behind, even if that’s what you did before. You take it with you, and come back to it again.
I feel like I’m in an expanding social universe, where people just get further away from each other over time, even though nobody is actually moving. I want to be in a galaxy — one of those little closed pockets of mutually binding matter. I want a community. I thought I’d found one of size two. I thought that that was the best I could do. The best I could hope for. Now it seems like even that modest goal was too ambitious.