No home, a big duffel in hand, a bigger backpack on back, I headed to the uptown 1 train to crash on my buddy’s couch. My body felt like a plucked tuning fork. I heard every car honk, every splash when wheel hit puddle, felt every distant train rumble, smelled the dankness of cold-moisture and curbed garbage, saw every glimmer off the pavement, every swirl in the florescent lights in the train-stop.
The train arrived. I sat and pulled out my notebook. I had just broken up and everything was still and clear. What had brought me to this place was clear—all the lies, all the needs I suppressed. I was done. I had needs. I wrote down what I needed. Someone who listens. Someone who likes reading in bed (or at least appreciates that I do). Someone who is openminded. Someone who cares about the environment. When I rattled off a couple pages of these things, I wrote out a declaration that for everything I listed, I would be willing to deliver the same thing.
I arrived at the 116th street stop. A light glaze covered the bricks of Columbia’s campus walk. I gulped in air. I hadn’t breathed in a while.
I called my mom and told her what happened. I apologized for lying to her (something I would do a lot of in the coming days). Dishonesty cannot be not contained. Lying in my relationship made it easier to lie to friends and family. Since talking about my relationship was dooming it, I quit talking or showing up.
I got to my friend Chikodi’s place. It was 1AM. We talked for a couple hours—about what happened, what went wrong, what was possible now. 2 years of dammed energy were released. There was no way I was going to sleep, so I pulled out computer and started to write.
It’s almost 5 in the morning, I can’t sleep. I just broke up with _____. I’m laying on a friend’s couch. I’ve very little idea what’s next—just a clearer idea of what will no longer be [doing my best imitation of Neo at the end of the Matrix]….I was just thinking about you. How I’d love a lover who I would be excited to have you meet. _____ was never that, and I’m sure it drove a fissure in our relationship….I’m sure there was an invisible but palpable toll on our connection, that everything had to be filtered through the lies that maintained my appearance of emotional and spiritual health. It just wasn’t there…the health that is.
So to long health in a short life.
I needed and wanted people in my life. I was totally dependent on them.
I also needed and wanted a place to live. I started spamming friends for their help, and within 6 hours my friend Graham shot me an email about a friend looking for a subletter. It was a one-bedroom in Chinatown/deep Lower East Side for $950 (to non-New Yorkers, this deal is miraculous). I took it.
I still had to move my stuff out of my ex’s apartment. I couldn’t do it alone. A friend lent me her car. 3 other friends and I barnstormed the apartment. I let them pack my underwear. The whole move was over in less than 3 hours.
I arrived in my new apartment. It was over a McDonald’s. The stairway reeked of fish. The apartment had foam, drop ceilings, linoleum floors and since the girl subletting it to me had barely moved in, no storage. There were just a few critical pieces of furniture like a kitchen table, a couch and bed. My stuff was splayed everywhere. I fucking loved it. For several days, I sat long hours in the dining room, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and drinking espresso (a liberating, if not particularly healthy, meditative act), listening to Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan. It sounded like the first time I’d ever heard music.
The cause of my rapture was simple: I was was living my life as it was, not as my ideas dictated. I had spent 2 years clinging and defending the idea of this relationship (one based on a nonexistent connection). For those 2 years, I couldn’t experience anything outside my defensiveness—I couldn’t taste food, hear music, see architecture. All of my energy was channeled toward proving to myself and the world that I had my shit together. I didn’t.
When I got real, when I surrendered to my life—to my persistent chest pains, to the absurd stories I told to justify my behavior, to my needs—I knew what had to be done. I had to go. When I finally left, all the energy focused on defending myself was freed and directed outward. I was able to see the beautiful lover my life was.
I was also able to be honest with what I needed. Any pretense about me being independent had been obliterated. I was completely dependent—not only for a place to live, but on people for bringing meaning to my life. It wasn’t until I had compromised many of my relationships that I realized how much I needed and wanted them.
In the spirit of being hopelessly in love with your life and dependent on its many facets, here are some things to think about:
- What aspect(s) of your life are you defending? That is choices in relationships, career, health, lifestyle, etc. that cause internal and external strife.
- What would happen if you surrendered to those things, letting go of your specific ideas of how you should live?
- If there is fallout from that surrender, how might you feel if you had support? In other words, what if you had a cleanup crew for all the messes you’ve got yourself in?
- Name several actions that represents surrender to your life.
- Choose to do one action from #4 and allow yourself to be dependent on friends, family, parole officers, whoever, whatever, if there is a fallout.