Monday, August 23, 2010

Three tomatoes are walking along...

You know the joke, right?  From Pulp Fiction?  The baby tomato is being quite slow, following along behind his Mama and Papa tomato and the Papa tomato squishes baby tomato and says, 'Ketch Up!'

Well, this is a Catch Up Post.

I've been back in the USA nearly three weeks.  So much has happened in that time!  I didn't feel fit to write about all that has occurred until, weirdly, I caught up on the blogs I read.  When I set my mind to something, well, sometimes I can be quite inflexible!  So, I slowly began my blogroll of reads...and let me tell you!  I sure do love the blog world!  One blog I follow, Ms. Sheryl at BitchCakes has achieved her weight loss goal and her subsequent posts have been fabulously positive and inspiring!  Another friend, Danielle at SometimesSweet, is progressing beautifully with life, baby in utero, and home buying! Angela, at Scatter Sunshine,  has been posting some really fun faith posts and intriguing-get-my-mind-rolling goodness that has been fun to keep up with this summer.  And, finally, I posted yesterday how my favorite music blogs are keeping me excited and up to date with all things Indie & College Rock.  It's been fun catching up with the blog world.

My turn, now, I guess.

I will save this for a future 'Ode to Switzerland' post but before I left JJ had mentioned that coming home was harder jet lag to handle than arriving to Switzerland.  That wasn't my experience last year so I couldn't agree, but this year, this year, I agree..  Jet lag was intense.  Reverse Culture shock was intense.  More on this later...  I was in a plane for 15 hours, and awake for 29 (minus the five hours I slept on planes two and three, total.)  I will say in gratitude:  The long flight, London to Chicago, I was upgraded to Business Class, and YESSSSSSSSS!  Soooo roomy and lovely; it was a treat!

I arrived to San Diego with Nate as my hero---he carried my luggage, brought me flowers (I LOVE FLOWERS!) and told me I didn't have to 'be' anything to anyone.  Such a relief.  Life in San Diego is fun, and we ate delicious Thai food at 11p and with a full belly I crawled to his home, showered, and tried to sleep.

Nate and I planned a pretty epic road trip upon my arrival to San Diego with one day for us to get things together, and for me to rest.  In hindsight, was that the best idea?  Probably not.  But as my recovery, my faith, and my reliance on a power greater than myself have taught me there are no mistakes in God's world.  So, Thursday, we left for San Luis Obispo.
When did my wrinkles happen?? I am a wrinkle face!  
God is awesome, and Noriko, my darling roommate, moved out of our shared home on Aug 4--that very day, instead of flying to Chicago, she flew to SANTA ANA! to see a mutual instructor of ours.  Do you know what that means??? Goodness, of course!  Serendipity!  Santa Ana is on the way to San Luis Obispo from San Diego, dontchaknow, and Nate was willing for us to take a quick hour detour so I could have a sweet visit with my darling friend. 
I am blessed to have such sweet companionship in Noriko. 
We arrived in San Luis Obispo with a few bumps along the way.  It was during this drive I began to feel something.  I called it Jet Lag until a few days ago.  I was craving alone time, and didn't know how to get it.  I was craving home, and was surprised I wasn't feeling at home with Nate, with all the travel we had planned. I wasn't acting my best self.  
Nate is a darling road companion. 
From San Luis Obispo we drove to Mount Shasta and scored an ULTIMATE camping spot at Castle Crags State Park.  We were right on the Sacramento River---it was cooooollldddd water and quite refreshing for an early morning soak!  
Refreshing Gurgling Sweet River Water

This was my first time camping in 'Bear Country!'  We had a 'bear locker' at our spot to lock our food in and we didn't see any bears.  It was kind of fun to be in such a special place, where bears hang out too.  

For dinner, we made Macro Platters and this was my first time having Sriracha in six weeks!  YUM!  (please note the oscillating fan hair look!!! I sure love my long hair but abhor having it on my neck when I'm hot!! Hence the monstrosity of a bun I sometimes sport).  

My favorite picture of Nate from the whole ten days we were together.  His smile melts me.  
From Mt. Shasta we drove to Bend, Oregon to visit some dear friends of mine, Amber, Jared and their son, Logan. 
My first time in Oregon!  I had to stop for the photo op despite having a bit of a headache (hence the crummy face. The Sun was bright!)  
In Bend, we had dinner at Deschutes Brewery and this was a tasty Mirror Pond Pale Ale.  And, 5dl of beer was a lot for a girl used to light lagers mixed with 7up all summer....Oh yummy Panache, I miss you so!

Nate and me enjoying the fun and friendship of Deschutes!

Me and Amber, darling friend!
In Bend, things took quite the turn.  I will not go into details as they're too private for blogworld but I will say I learned so much this Saturday August 7.  I learned about myself.  I learned about Nate.  I learned what I'm capable of, and what I no longer find works for me.  I thought I already knew these things, but putting them into practice proved difficult with what I had stacked up against me:  fatigue, jet lag, beer, needing alone time and not knowing how to get it.  

I don't wish to take back what happened this night because I'm reminded there are no mistakes in God's world.  I do wish to act in forgiveness of myself, truly love myself, and ponder and reflect on how my actions affect others.  No matter my excuse--the perfect storm of circumstances leading up to crummy behavior--my behavior happened, and it affected my relationship with Nate.  I woke up Sunday hungover from behavior.  I was weak with regret and guilt and it wasn't until I found some alone time in the shape of a tearful and warm shower, I was able to get on my knees, seek forgiveness from One Greater than Me, and move forward.  

And move forward we did, Nate and me.  It was tentative and slow.  We were both hurting and hesitant what the next step of our long distance romance would be.  (I shouldn't say 'we' as I don't speak for Nate, but those were the feelings I had).  Sunday we drove to Breitenbush Hot Springs Resort and it is here I REQUIRE YOU TO MAKE YOUR NEXT TRIP TO THIS HEALING SPACE!!  

We spent three days, two nights, at Breitenbush, and it was so magical.  I had that desired and sought after alone time with my journal, I soaked in healing, warm mineral water, and washed my body in an outside shower next to the flowing Breitenbush River.  I began the loving and powerful process of forgiving myself.  And it was here, Tuesday August 10, Nate and I decided to no longer be a Romantic Couple.  Is Breitenbush the type of place I expected to break up with Nate? Ohmyword, NO!!  The day previous we saw a couple get married!  It is a loving and sacred place, and I guess that is why I find it so fitting we did break up there.  Because, remember, there are no mistakes in God's world.   

What a gift--we were grown-ups!  We talked it through.  We expressed our hurts, our tears, our feelings, and our love for each other.  We decided it was no longer going to work for us and for each of us, that meant hurting a little bit now, so we don't hurt ourselves or each other more in the future.  

Hindsight.  That beautiful word. tells me it's the "recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence." Yep.  I agree.  I am aware of the reality of what a hefty road trip can do for a relationship after such a long time apart.  I see the possibility of doing things differently now but am without that ability as Nate and I are now toeing the line of 'just being friends.'  I am grateful for reflection and the ability to learn from my relationships.  

The social psychologist George Herbert Mead coined the term significant other to indicate the one who signifies or reflects back to us the meanings of our gestures and, in so doing, develops with us our ability to act meaningfully with others.  (quote from The Spirituality of Imperfection by Kurtz & Ketcham). I find this to be absolutely true as I ponder and reflect my time with Nate.  A sweet gift and blessing he was as a significant other.  

Leaving Breitenbush Tuesday August 10 with a car packed full of gear, heading toward Chico for a few more days
together.  This is our last picture together.  
We spent two nights in Chico, California on our way back to Prescott.  Nate is a gracious, generous man, and was on board to continue our trip as planned despite our decision to no longer be Romancers.  We eliminated Yosemite from the trip, and decided after Chico to head straight to Prescott.  

I don't have any pictures on my camera after this point.  I must have just mentally stopped needing the desire for future memories and have my mind's camera to refer.  We had a great time in Chico, where Nate is from.  We went to his favorite park growing up, enjoyed a Sampler at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and I continued to enjoy Nate's great company.  

I am so blessed to have gotten to know this man.  He is super great!  And, what a gift of five months we had together, working at a long distance relationship.  He was by my side during what felt like a really difficult task--finishing and graduating Nursing School.  He is a great friend, and I feel blessed I didn't put the pressure on this relationship to be the one, even though there are so many characteristics in Nate that 'could be.'  I'm grateful I wasn't dependent on the outcome of Nate and me.  I was dependent on the moments of Nate and me, and that is God doing for me what I cannot do for myself.  

It was a 15 hour drive Chico, California to Prescott, Arizona, and we made it alive, peaceful, and still with respect for one another.  (Again, I won't speak for Nate, but I will say, I sure do respect and love him).  We decided to hit up one more Brewery, for posterity's sake, the place where Nate and I met, nine plus years ago.  After a disgustingly overpriced salad and Nate's indulgence of a super yummy IPA we hit up Annie's Attic for some dancing, and that is when the feeling of returning home hit me hard.  

I am home.  

I was welcomed home with big hugs from my darling friends, Gwendolyn and Leta.  
Leta, me, Gwendolyn before I left for Switzerland, June 2010
It was in dancing with Nate I got sad about our relationship ending.  Oh, boy! how much I want a partner that enjoys dancing and moving his body!!  Sadness aside, we danced for a while and then headed to my home. 

I walked in and was awash with stagnant air, a Sonja kitty that had lost a few pounds, and sweet Noriko's energy palpably gone.  

I began panicking and sobbing in a way I hadn't done for a couple years.  Again, Nate showed his strength as a pretty stand-up guy.  He held my hand, gave me hugs, and told me those words that help so much from a friend, "You're going to be okay."  

Eight weeks away from home is a long time.  

This post has turned so long, and so reflective!!  I had no idea I had all this in me to get out---Well, maybe I did, and that's why I've been sitting on it, not wanting to write it!  I will end here, though, and catch up with what life has been like now that I'm home.  

Thanks for all the love while I've been away.  It's been such a journey!  
And, I remind myself, there are no mistakes in God's world! 


Scatter Sunshine said...

I had to eat fries with that catchup. :) Welcome home. Onward!

nicole said...

You're so beautiful in spirit and on the outside! :)

She answers to Layla said...

Ladies! Thank you for the love!! Onward! Keep Strong & Carry On! YAY!

Hope all is well in your worlds...

Charlsie said...

Okay, "ketching up" now... :)

What a special relationship you and Nate established... God puts people in our lives for specific purposes and remembering many of your previous posts, Nate provided many insights and encouraging words along your journey in nursing school and maturity. Aside from your public notations of his encouragement that we were able to share with you, are all of those special times you had alone with him.

God is preparing you for continued greatness my friend... you are in line to do awesome works girl. :) Can't wait to see them come to fruition!

Love love love. <3

She answers to Layla said...

thank you, charlsie!! i love when you comment on my blog---
i definitely believe Nate was with me for so many awesome reasons. he was such a source of strength and fun during a CRAZY intense time!!
we'll see what awesome fella god has in store for me next!!