There are some moments where you are able to reflect on how much your life has changed. However, as I get older, also recognize that those moments also make clear how little the truth of the heart is swayed by time.
Last February when I went to New York, I was a mess. Floating through the city and crying a few times a day, just feeling broken hearted and aimless: Not knowing how or if things would ever change. Now, over six months later, I went with the same friend to Denver for a similar weekend (concerts, museums, and wandering), but this time it was very different. No tears, no frustration with each other, no unintentionally aimless experiences. We ate good food, listened to great music, bought a ton of records, and had a nice balance of time together and on our own.
But, when I think about how my heart feels, there is not much difference. I can function better, get through days with enough distraction, have more confidence in myself, am able to fall back into my comfort level with new people. I enjoy being challenged and changed by new flirtations, wondering if there could be more. But I still have questions and doubts, feel raw and undone. I am still trying to figure out a balance between keeping my heart open and protecting myself from what has actually been a pretty paralyzing emotional experience paired with cathartic self discovery and expression.
In all of this, I reflect on the anomaly that is time and the euphemisms that go with it:
“Time heals all wounds.”
“Time changes everything.”
“Give it time.”
Spending time a place you once called home feels so different than going places to explore or where you could imagine yourself living. There is a sense of ownership, comfort, and years of experience, but also a disconnect because it is no longer yours. There is no home to go to, just new streets and places to visit. I love to travel with my mother and daughter, but it was nice to have a couple hours each day to escape on my own. Getting on the train and heading to the neighborhoods I used to love, walking the streets, trusting my intuition rather than a map, were all special moments where I got to revisit the me I was a decade ago when I took the freedom to explore the city for granted.
I try to visit at least once a year since moving, but for some reason this trip felt much more reflective. There was a very palpable awareness of how much things have changed for both me and the city. The last time I visited the Golden Gate Bridge was nine years ago when I got engaged halfway across in what was probably the most romantic gesture of my life, just with the wrong person. Last year when I visited, I thought of all the things I loved that I wanted to share with someone who might be the right person. I saw the city through sharing it with them.