The Strangeness Of Knowing

My romantic brain has picked this entire scenario apart. I remember the first time I saw you, unenthused, odd, apart. You were the first to point out to me that you had resting bitch face, but that was years after initially laying eyes on you at that mc chris concert. My eyes slid over your seemingly joyless expression, and I made a mental note of the unhappy man standing slightly to the back left of our always jolly mutual friend. I thought that maybe it wasn’t your kind of show. But the music started, and I forgot all about you as I sang along to my favorite songs. Where were you at the end of the night? Did we all get drinks after the music stopped? Not a clue.

The next time I remember seeing you was a year or so later when our friend asked me to be an extra in your movie. It rained that day, and all of us extras just sat around in your friend’s living room, watching How I Met Your Mother and waiting to be needed. My attention was evenly divided between the television screen and the hustle and bustle of the man in charge of our ragtag band. You were overseeing makeup in the kitchen, and periodically giving various crew members directions. I found something about you intriguing, a little off-putting. I don’t know if I put two and two together then, and saw that you were the same guy I’d met at the mc chris concert. You weren’t unhappy, though, so I bet I didn’t. It kept raining that night, and I never got to be in the movie, though I watched it a couple of times once it was released. I thought it was clever, and I was proud to have been considered for a part, even if it never happened.

What I really remember was my 30th birthday, and seeing you at the end of that bar. Feeling drawn to you, but resisting the urge to draw attention to myself. I was taken, and I’m not naturally very extroverted. It never made sense to me to try to make friends with guys when I was in a relationship. It seems a little too forward. What can I say, I’m old fashioned that way. But probably more important was that I could overhear your conversation from my place a few barstools away, and you just seemed too smart for me. I was very conscious of you that night, though. I can’t remember a single other face in the bar the way that I can see yours. When I got up to walk to the bathroom at one point, I was so self-conscious of my stride. Were you watching me as I crossed the room? I doubt it. But then I thought maybe you were. That was a particularly happy birthday for me, even though I was at someone else’s birthday party, and none of my own friends had shown up. I had an amazing time, just drinking by myself, taking selfies, talking to whoever sat down beside me. You and I did talk for maybe a minute – long enough for our friend to introduce us for what was at least the fourth or fifth time at that point in our travels. I left the bar that night feeling elated. Was it the beginning of falling for you? A hint that something could be different? Like I said, I have a romantic brain. I’m building a story in reverse. There was nothing between us then. You didn’t know I existed. But isn’t it fun to let your mind play tricks on you at a later date?

Then of course there came the afternoon at the movies when I snapped at you for not remembering me. And Knights of Badassdom, a completely unintended date. Then Neutral Milk Hotel, and the realization that you were made of magic. A comedy show a couple of weeks later, followed by one of the most intense makeout sessions I’d had since high school. You’ve had me hooked since the beginning, with the hours of sincere conversation, bouts of laughter, genuine concern for my wellbeing, a reassuring physical presence, those breathtaking kisses. You’ve become a necessary component. I could live without you, but I don’t know that it would be worthwhile.

Last night you came home later than I’d expected. You were out so late that I’d almost texted you an hour earlier to demand your whereabouts. Then I realized that since I wouldn’t be texting out of fear or jealousy, only a vague sense of irritation that my schedule was being tampered with, I should stop being ridiculous and let you have your fun. I’d only been asleep for maybe 30 minutes when the front door banged open (not your fault – since the painter gave it that last coat, we’ve had to heave ourselves into the door every time to get it to unstick from the frame). That didn’t bug me, but for some reason when you dropped your wallet on the end table a minute or two later, I was startled and my heart skipped a beat. I tore off my sleeping mask and stared accusingly at you, bathed in lamplight there in the living room, looking absolutely mortified to know you’d woken me. For a second I was angry, but it dissolved immediately as I saw your sweet expression, so pained at having caused me any discomfort. You walked into the bedroom and bent over me, staring deeply into my eyes, apologizing for coming home so late, and for waking me. Your eyes were so full of love, so warm, so joyous. You kissed me in penance. Once again I was overcome with how much I love you, and how happy you make me.

We are both struggling with life right now. Things aren’t easy. We’re trying to make our way in a world that makes so little sense, holding on to the parts that are real and right and true. For me, you’re one of those parts. I’ve still got a lot of healing to go, but you make my life a better place to be. Until that night last year when I realized my fascination was reciprocated, and that I seemed to have stumbled upon exactly what I was looking for, hidden in plain view, I always thought that old adage of “you’ll just know” was complete and utter bullshit. But now I get it. Everything just fell into place. Yeah, we’re not perfect. But we’re perfect for each other. And now I know what knowing feels like. It’s a strange and welcome sensation.

Return To The Road

Hello there, readers. It’s been awhile – sorry to keep you waiting so long for an update. In late March, I decided to take a little break from blogging here while I sorted out my life and considered whether walking The Camino was still in my cards. It actually didn’t take me too long to figure out that it was still what I wanted, but somewhere in the midst of my breakup, move, and life reshaping I ended up forgetting my WP password. Once I got that figured out, I started having technical difficulties with my Google Authenticator. From there, I just bumbled around, forgetting other passwords left and right and leaving a swath of abandoned social media accounts in my wake. Luckily, WP has these amazing Happiness Engineers that spend their days helping forgetful folks like yours truly, and the amazing David W. not only came to my rescue, but managed to not make me feel like an idiot while he went about getting me back into my WP account. Thanks again, David!!!

So now that I’m back in, what do I do? There’s so much to say to you all. Since my other blog, Compass & Quill, isn’t on the WP.com platform, I just kept writing over there. You can catch up with a selection of topics regarding my private life over there, if you’d like. I’ve been saving all talk of Santiago de Compostela for this page, though. Especially one specific thought that came to me at some point over the past couple of months, then was (strangely) reiterated by a friend the other day:

The Camino comes to you.

It makes sense, obviously, given that all pilgrimage routes are meant to be physical representations of journeys of the heart and mind towards some kind of spiritual Truth. When we walk, we’re looking to become part of something. We’re not just looking for the thing that will make us whole, that will complete us and give our lives meaning. We’re also looking to become part of the whole, to have our lives be meaningful to others.

When I first set upon the idea of walking to Santiago de Compostela, I looked at it from an academic standpoint. I was a wayward soul back then (and still today, but the film of time somehow makes me feel a little more tethered than I did at 22). I wasn’t looking at walking across the Pyrenees as a spiritual undertaking, but rather more as an adventure where I’d have the chance to visit and catalog a host of medieval religious sites over the course of a long period of exercising. After awhile, once it sunk in that I’d never be a medieval historian, I gave up on the idea of using the trip for research…which meant that I basically gave up on the idea.

The Camino had other intentions for me; it stuck around in my psyche, popping up every few years to remind me that it was waiting, to see if I was ready to take the plunge. Over the years, it also somehow boiled itself down into something more pure. The Camino would be a chance to walk, meet new friends, see things I’d never seen before, and most importantly, to start listening more closely to what the Universe was trying to tell me. It was going to be my time to find myself and become what I’d always been meant to be…whatever that was.

Over the last year or so, The Camino started meaning something else to me, something that I never realized clearly enough to be able to put it into words: escape. The act of becoming truer to myself and the Universe meant leaving behind what I knew and didn’t like about myself. Mostly, that was my relationship, and who I was within its confines. But I couldn’t say this out loud. I didn’t have the vocabulary for it. Instead, I’d think of going on the road, and how happy I’d be out there, alone. How maybe I’d meet people who’d get me, people with whom I’d be able to talk about religion, drink some wine, share some stories about traveling in Europe. It wasn’t until fairly recently that I realized all of these things were things I wasn’t getting in my relationship. My spirit was burdened by the now, and I was attempting to hide that from myself by daydreaming about a journey far in the future.

So the breakup came, after years of dawdling about on my part, but still not without a serious push from the Universe. Against my better judgment, I started to find feelings for someone else. Over the sound of a beloved band, conversation on the essence of St. Francis and how he will forever be part of my heart, musings on the meaning of The Camino…and a thousand other ideas and dreams that have passed their way between us in the last few months, my heart began to open back up in a way that had only been happening when I talked about my future plans to walk through Spain. I started to understand what it meant to feel genuine romantic love and concern for another human being, in a way I had only imagined I’d known anything about. And with that came this renewed sense of self-reliance, and a trust that I am actually walking in the right direction, after all.

All this time, I didn’t have faith. I lost it somewhere, years ago. But it’s back now. Yes, there’s so much farther to go. I’m just a child, blind to the wonders that are stretched out before me. But in the end, The Camino came to me…and now I know that I’m strong enough to go to it.

The only question now is where to find the funding.