Thursday, March 25, 2010

THINKING OVER A DO-OVER

Walking the dogs this morning, I glimpsed the For Sale sign perched on the other side of my laurel hedging. It warrants a mention since I haven’t noticed it in weeks. Like the rhododendron that is suddenly blooming,…unremarkable, and then it pops out. That sign has been pitched in the lawn for three months now. I glanced to make sure it hadn’t been vandalized. Of course it hadn’t. I guess I never fully shook that urban mentality.

Although it’s still All Quiet on the Nest-Turn Front, my move back to the Vancouver area got a boost this week with a job offer for a position arising in the summer. I accepted. Rather than activate the panic button over what I’m going to do with the house, I turned my thoughts to reestablishing myself in the city.

There’s excitement, but I’m also concerned about settling back in a city that I’d essentially fled. Absence can make the heart grow delusional. What am I heading back to? I have no doubt I will love the amenities, having a choice in pools, in libraries and gyms. That delights the adult-onset ADD in me. There’s also the expanded food options to add variety to my vegetarian lifestyle: Choices, Whole Foods, Vij’s, Annapurna, The Naam. Shopping, parks, tennis courts, caf├ęs,…it’s easy to glamorize the possibilities.

And yet I only need to take a critical look back to the way things were when I left five years ago. I was nurturing a nascent hermit lifestyle. While I often tell myself that friends stopped calling once a ferry ride created a divide, most of my friendships had been downgraded to acquaintance status (if that) during the last five years of an unhealthy relationship and in the time that followed when I was so worn down by one person that I couldn’t pull myself up to deal with any person. The move to a rural area allowed me to heal, but by then time and space had comatized so many other relationships. Is resuscitation possible?

I’ve had countless episodes in life where I’ve cut off a friend or let a relationship decay only to revive it after a heartfelt mea culpa. If there was something strong enough in the beginning, it came back. In truth, any fractures rarely amounted to solely being my doing. By initiating a reconciliation, I allowed the friend to also have a moment of truth.

Why have I had so many of these experiences? Am I an ass who flits about, sucking what I can from a relationship and then moving on? Some days I can portray myself that way. But, no, I don’t think that is the case. Friendships bloom, evolve, fade, destruct as Life Happens. I happen to be an achingly nostalgic person who rarely settles for the dismissive observation that people move on.

I’ve been lucky. Reconnecting has always been positive. Things don’t go back to the way they were, but that person regains a present storyline in my life. It pales to what once was, but I am grateful there is still something.

I do wonder if my luck is about to run out.

My Vancouver friendships have whittled down to two. There are others I see on occasion, but they are no longer people I feel an urge to call when in crisis or when I’m excited about getting a new job. Returning to Vancouver is a chance for a do-over, but I am preparing for the fact that some doors won’t reopen. In some ways, it may not be radically different from if I’d chosen to relocate to Ottawa instead. I’m going to have to be pounding the pavement, making the phone calls, signing up again for gay tennis and gay volleyball, finding a volunteer organization, rebuilding.

Part do-over, part start over. So, yes, I am excited, but I am also scared. At forty-five, I wonder how much I can change in myself and how many second chances remain.

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