One of my best friends spoke with me some months ago about a book she read and loved that discusses "the meantime" - that place where you're living in wait for something else to happen, something important, something better. I haven't read this book but the sentiment spoke to me, especially because at the time I was in a meantime of my own.
A little background: I'd moved to New York on my own, fought a battle of dystopian novel proportions to find an apartment and a roommate (and totally lucked out in the end with both), and was loving my experience in the city. Then things shifted and I moved to my "next place," somewhere quieter. Somewhere greener. Somewhere with new streets to walk and a new history to learn. Portland, Oregon.
And I loved it. The restaurants! At one I took a private tour with the chef of their rooftop garden, where they grow most of their food. At another I learned that I don't just like oysters, I looooove oysters. The activity! I found burncycle, who gave me a community when I had none and gave me abs when I pretty much also had none. I did yoga, so much more yoga than ever, and hiked thickly forested paths hidden right in the city. I tasted wine both urban and country, rode the bus and the street car everywhere I went, walked through historic cemeteries, enjoyed Christmas lights in the early day darkness downtown, spent a weekend on the rocky coast, shopped farmers markets and made my own juice, and picked peaches right off their trees.
And most of it, I did alone.
I think that's part of why I loved it. But that's also why I left Portland when I did. Even for an introvert, and even as much as I loved the city, there's only so much alone one can take. The worst part of that kind of alone was, I wasn't supposed to be alone. I had a love, a partner, who for various reasons that I'll choose not to share on such a public forum was generally unable to enjoy the joys of Portland with me.
Portland was my meantime.
Sometimes my loneliness was as deep as the river gorges and my frustration as sharp as the rocky cliffs where the land meets the sea. But in my meantime I grew to be as tall as the Pacific Northwest pine trees. As strong as the mountains that rise up the coast. As sure as the bright green moss that grows everywhere.
The week I decided to leave, I looked at myself in the mirror and said out loud, "I know you, and I'll take care of you." Because that's what I had learned most in my meantime: Sometimes all we have is ourselves. You really ought to know who that is.