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.”
The thing is there is no amount of time that will return you to the person you were before you loved someone. When we meet people worth knowing, we are changed by them. After my divorce, I spent two years so broken and lost, that I was in a haze. Finding someone who really saw me after that was life changing. It reminded me of who I was before my life was derailed, but it also reminded me who I no longer wanted to be. This year, with all the pain and tears (seriously, lots of tears), I have managed to sink in to who I am and to explore and share all the facets of myself I had not explored in over a decade.
As I wandered around Denver, laughing and having a good time, looking at cool art, sharing my experiences with new and old friends (near and far), I felt how much I have changed this year.
What I have come to believe is this: The gift of a broken heart is an openness to new experiences. It brings the ability to eschew pretense and put yourself out there all messy and raw. This year has brought friendships, flirtations, and some real bonds that I hope will continue for a long time. Do I still hold on to the idea of love and wish that the past was not just that, hope that maybe there is some way to fix everything? Sure. But, I also know that if that does not happen, I will still thrive. My happiness is not tied to one person, no matter how perfect they may be or how much potential for something epically great we shared.
I have deviated quite a bit from my time in Denver, but I never professed to be a travel writer, only to share how travel has changed me. Returning home, I thought a lot about what it means to be happy at times, sad at times, to hold on, and to let go. I don’t have any answers, but I do know that I should keep doing what I am doing. I have no problem establishing boundaries, taking chances, or reaching for what I want. I won’t chase someone who does not have time for me, but will be grateful for the time I have with those who do. I won’t jump into anything I can’t handle, but am not afraid to take a leap. I will continue to pursue the path I am on: a path of tears, laughter, and more music than I ever could have imagined.