So, after months and months and months of what seemed like an endless, frustrating search, I can now say that I’ve begun the process of actually taking up a post with the bus company here in Portland, Oregon. This may not be news to anyone who follows this blog because I posted it on Facebook and received well over 100 likes and comments from the people who have been following along with me on this journey. After filling out some paperwork today, and peeing in a cup, I am taking a moment to let this sink in. And I’m doing it now, with writing.
When I left the interview on Friday last, I felt really confident. I felt I had nailed it, made a good impression on the guys leading the questioning, and answered with both honesty and integrity and a good sense of self. That afternoon, while sitting at a cafe nearby, I got the call from the HR representative, and the ball started rolling from there. It took a minute for it to sink in. In all honesty, it hasn’t sunk in completely yet.
In the past six months, I have had to do a lot of personal growth. I had the time and expanse of space in order to really do some of the things for myself that I have been putting off and avoiding for far too long. I finished my memoir. That was really, really big for me. A massive chunk of my prior life had been sifted and resifted and finally presented to those who needed to see my progress with it all, and in late June under a Vermont sky, I was granted my Master’s degree.
At the same time, as I was there, back in New England, falling back in love with the place I’m from, my relationship was at the end of the line. No longer was the man I moved here to Portland to be with someone I could call my own. I had to release him. Over the time that I’ve been both in his house, yet on my own, I have had to come to terms with the change in that connection, and in that process, I’ve learned to allow myself to redefine a few key things.
Being “in a relationship” has a different feeling to it now. In fact, I can be in a relationship that is deep, meaningful, and committed, without having to tag it, brand it, package it, or sell it. I don’t have to define what a relationship is by rules set by some weird training or normalcy that exists out there. I also don’t need to be seeking a connection with another man based simply on what I’ve been taught to be the thing to have. I don’t need to commit my entire being to the life and power of another person. The only person I need to really take care of is myself, and if someone happens along that needs or wants to share space and time with me, then I am only too happy to provide that for him.
The past few months have also taught me a lesson in humility. Recently, I have made connections with some pretty amazing people here in Portland, and in that process, I have learned that being generous of one’s time, one’s compassion, and sometimes one’s resources, can truly make another person’s day seem so much brighter. I have been fortunate to encounter other guys who know what it’s like to be in a situation such as I have been in. They are not judgmental. They are not looking down their noses at me. They respect my boundaries, and appreciate just how hard it is to open up and reveal vulnerabilities. These guys have all opened up to me in some fashion, and I think I’ve begun to understand that there is a dire need for a person who is willing to listen, without judgment, without expectation, and without an ulterior motive in their lives, as much as mine. I’ve come to miss having friends, and am thrilled that I’m beginning to find those sorts of people here.
But I’m not seeking a “better half.” I’m not seeking someone to redeem me. I’m not seeking someone to save me from my mistakes, or bail me out when I’ve gone astray. Those are the things I need to do and will continue to do for myself.
I’ve also begun the process of giving back to a world that I realize I’ve taken so much from. In the process of finally writing letters to the people who have best influenced me, I have learned I have had an extraordinary life so far, and I’ve come and gone to so many different places. I have also had the chance to meet some very, very extraordinary people along the way, and I may not have realized it at the time, but what they gave me (guidance, direction, suggestion) has made all the difference to me. I need to continue to thank them. I need to continue to honor them and the words they have shared with me by living to the best of my capabilities. I need to remain open about who I am, what I am, and what it means to live a good and honest life. I still have a lot to learn about myself and my place, but now, for the first time, I’m not running from the past. I’m not denying its existence. I realized the power of “No” on a hillside west of Denver, but now, in this place, and in my new life, I can finally put that word into practice. I can set and reset limits, and keep myself on the right path. This means, to me, becoming a giver instead of a taker. It’s time. I’m ready.