It’s been a really interesting summer. I went into it, with a very open work schedule, expecting to be able to get out and do a lot more than we have this year. My knee injury earlier this year, coupled with Ray’s ongoing shoulder problem, has kept us a little closer to home than I had anticipated. We haven’t gone camping as much as we did last summer, it seems, nor have we taken as many long-distant journeys around the Pacfic Northwest. That all said, it’s not like it’s been a bad summer at all. It’s been a lot more transformative than I expected.
We did get up to Canada, and celebrated Ray’s success at passing his Level 1 Sommelier exam. This act underlines his abilities to suggest and serve wine, and demonstrates on his resume and at future job interviews, that his knowledge is real and verified. It’s been a huge bump to his feeling of justification and personal security, and I’ve really seen a lot of worry and tension and depression start to wane in my boyfriend. Because of this, we’ve started actively exploring our next step, looking at employment options, housing options, and having longer discussions about what happens after living here in Portland. To that end, for myself, I’ve taken the steps to re-enroll in classes at the local community college in an attempt to learn new and different skills that can help me in my own job placement outside of Portland. It’s caused me to reconsider getting back into the classroom, to start the process of obtaining a teaching license, and as of tomorrow, has me registering for introductory courses in Computer Science. I’m starting to put more stock in the idea that Ray and I do, in fact, have a future that goes beyond the here and now, but I’m having these feelings and reacting to them in a way that isn’t going against Ray at all. Instead, there’s a synergy, a parallel, between him and I that has really sparked a new level of connection between us both.
I’ve really enjoyed the summer of the Jeep, even though it’s been a bit bumpy as a car owner. It has been broken into twice and has ended up back at the dealer twice now for repairs, but all in all, having that vehicle, my dream vehicle, with the top down and the tunes up, flying across the grasslands of central Oregon, or winding up through the mountains on either side of town, has brought me such joy and happiness. I love the freedom, I love the ability to throw the top down and just feel the world around me, and I love what being able to afford this vehicle has done for my feelings toward myself. Three years ago, I was an absolute fiscal mess. I had no job. I was stuck in a world that wasn’t of my design. I had nothing and no one to really turn to, and was allowing someone else, outside forces, direct me. Now, only a short while after, things have really changed for the better.
This summer has seen a real push with my writing, too. Having joined the small writing group that I belong to has been a real blessing in my life. Every other week, I now have a wonderful gaggle of people conversing with me about the book, about their own work, about the struggles we all face as we try to hone our craft. It’s super supportive, super engaging, and really reminds me that there is more to me than my ability to drive a bus and do the laundry. I’ve seen this sixth revision of a story I began back in 2011 really take some amazing shapes, and plumb a lot of depths that I was once too afraid to explore. In doing so, I am constantly feeling the loosening grip of darkness and fear that has always plagued me from telling a story that was as authentic as possible. This feeling of liberation has really expressed itself outward in my daily life, and I come back to the house, to my job, and to my boyfriend every other Wednesday night feeling renewed and resolved to go further and do better.
To that end, this summer has also been a lot about overcoming my insecurities with regards to my relationship and the faith I have in it. Ray and I have come up against moments that have required trust and commitment, as well as honest (sometimes brutally so) conversations about fear and worry that we both have. In being able to hold space for these kind of talks, though, and seeing the promises we’ve made to each other act out in real-time between us, has had the cumulative effect of really deepening the bond he and I share. Every day, it seems, he’s reminding me just how unlike any other man I’ve ever been this close to he truly is. I expect rebuke, I brace for antagonism, and a constant stream of doubt towards the choices and actions that I make for myself and the direction of my life. Instead, I keep getting more support, more love, more optimism from Ray. I had no idea that this is how a healthy relationship was supposed to work. I’m still learning and man – it’s such a valuable lesson.
Summer might be coming to an end soon, but we’ve still got lots going on this year to look forward to. I have school. Ray’s doing more and building out his resume in ways that will really set the stage for us soon. We’re also planning a joint adventure for our birthday that is shaping up to be a lot of fun and will bring us back to Denver, where I can reconnect with past friends and remind myself of where I’ve been. There’s also the chance that one of his dear friends will be joining us for Thanksgiving this year, so I might have the opportunity to put on a full-on feast, which I adore doing.