I got home from Colorado yesterday morning after three delays and nearly missing the flight altogether; then, I went straight from the airport to work an extra shift at work. Needless to say, I’m lagging in a lot of the senses of the word.

As I sat in the airport bar trying to shave away the hours, I had a lot of time to reflect on what it meant to be “going home.” That definition has changed so much in the past year, and all the platitudes about home that come with the holidays have me acutely aware of that. “Home is where the heart is.” “Home for the holidays.” Blah blah blah.

Where is home, though? I’m moving this Friday to a new apartment, finally claiming a space as my own since the divorce, but that doesn’t feel like home. Home is definitely not where I am right now. Home used to be a person for me. For a while during the drama of separation, I accepted the fact that I was virtually homeless. Now that things have settled down and I am getting on with things, I feel more displaced than ever. Again, where is home? Where is rest?

I feel like I could write a couple thousand words on this topic, and I just might wind up doing that.

Perhaps this is one of the more chronic symptoms of being torn away from a relationship that you thought would last. Even at its worst, I still had a place where I belonged when I was married, whether my ex wife liked it or not. In retrospect, I obviously fitted into her life like a square peg in a round hole, but at least I stayed in place if I really crammed myself in there. I don’t even have that, now.

A lot of people who have never gone through something like this don’t seem to understand the nuances of grief, and yes, I am still grieving. I am grieving because I lost something, not because I want it back. Others just don’t understand that. They expect me to be mad or to have just moved on all together.

Healthy souls don’t work that way! That void has to be filled before that ache can go away, an ache that I feel right now as I write. It is a benign pain just behind my sternum that I have found is specifically reserved for grief. It is a physical manifestation of emotion that I immediately draw all of my attention to when I feel it. I want to understand it. I want to accept it, but accepting it means accepting the fact that I just have no idea how long this process plans on feeling like a slog.

Some days it is a lot easier than others. Some days, I’ll go through from sunrise to sunset with a smile on my face and a ditty in my brain. Right now, as I stare at Louisville’s overcast skies and neglect the work of my day job, my head is just full of radio static. The colder months are always harder for me, but I’m tired of always feeling so bipolar from week to week. I’ll admit that this funk is probably just exacerbated by my fatigue. The point remains that my feelings are valid though.

Back to the question of home: I suppose that I’ll have to decide on my own definition of home for the time being or just accept that one isn’t necessary, which is probably what I am already subtly settling on. I feel like I have a good idea about what I would want another relationship to look like. I feel like I respect myself and know what healthy boundaries are now. I feel like I’m sitting here having accepted that I am desirable in my own way but still wondering if someone else can accept that. I barely got to that point on my own; how the hell is a stranger supposed to do that?

I feel like a well meaning snake oil salesman at times, “Hey! I know that I may look like I don’t have a lot to offer, but just trust me. You know. I know. But just trust an absolute stranger with a comedically tragic history of failed relationships, no money, and an affinity for wearing Middle Eastern style scarves.”

I hear people say, “You just need to get better at selling yourself.” Okay, that’s all fine and good when people actually want to buy a product. Every time I have been shut down or ghosted on so far, I’ve walked away feeling pretty sympathetic. “Yeah, I get that. You do you.” I don’t say any of that to sound like a sad sap. I’m not looking for sympathy either. It’s just where I am right now emotionally; rejection just doesn’t have the power to sting me all that much. It might ache just a little, but I don’t spiral.

This is a little theory that I have cooked up, and I’d love to hear what you lovely people think. I think this may be the source for my feeling of transience: I think I have a lot to offer. I feel like I was robbed of having what I have to offer being appreciated and received; ya know, the thing that happens in most relationships. I feel abused because I was abused, and I fully accept that I will probably continue to feel that way until I have a working model of a healthy romantic relationship (even if that model is hypothetical). I was taken advantage of and don’t quite understand what value other people attribute to what I have to offer in light of that. Put simply, I know what I like about me, but I don’t know what other people would like about me.

“You’re nice,” and, “You’re funny,” are just so hollow. There is no substance to compliments like that no matter how fancy you dress them up. I want to be seen.

I don’t really bother trying to predict what other people think, though. It’s not my job, nor is it something that promotes a healthy state of mind. Right now the best, most honest thing I can say on this matter is that I like me a lot and I’d like if someone else did as well.

A lot of people asked me if I got high while in Colorado, and I told them the truth. I told them “no,” because weed makes me feel like I’m falling behind in time. It gets me pretty anxious constantly feeling like I’m ten seconds behind everyone else. What I didn’t say is that I normally wouldn’t have an issue feeling ten seconds behind… that is, if I didn’t already feel like I am lagging four years behind. I just don’t want to lose any more time. I don’t want to lose any more space. Maybe that’s what it is like to feel “at home.” Maybe “home” is where you belong in not only space but also time.

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