Sunday, May 08, 2011

Preface to Travels

I can't get going until I clear the air on a few things.

Not entirely sure where to start the travelogue for the past year, working toward some sense of organization and structure around all these trips. Closure, too, although I think that is bound to happen on some other schedule far outside my ability to control or manage. The Poetess and I went on a couple of miraculous trips in the months leading up to the separation and eventual end of the partnership. Miraculous, because even though clear indications were everywhere that some kind of upheaval or at least fundamental change was coming, it was as if (largely) we were able to take a vacation even from that and travel very well together, as we had always been able to. One concession to the change itself was that we went to Sonora over the Christmas holidays, rather than to Baja, as we had done the three previous years.

At first, I was going to start with the beginnings of my single wanderings last spring, but it seems that to make sense of the impulse over the past 18 months, I need to honestly account for the simple fact that the Poetess has been present on all of the trips. It would be false to present them as if I were the lone adventurer. In fact, although I was physically alone, huge swaths of every one of these sojourns have been thickly laden with memories, conversations in my head, overmastering grief, gut-punching longing and loneliness and wistful nostalgia in many forms: aching, generously loving, grateful, confused, resigned. So I would like it understood from the start that this is the emotional and spiritual background of these excursions. No matter what else has been present, whether it has been awe, joy, freedom, contentment, frustration, boredom, whatever, the Poetess has been present in spirit, in my own astonishing imagination, in my company with myself, in surprising ways and in ways perhaps unhealthy or absurd, but unmanageable and unaccountable.

The irony there is that one of my goals for some of these trips was to get free and reclaim some of these places for myself. Of course, it hasn't worked out in that simple way at all. In retrospect, it is a self-centered and self-seeking goal and altogether too controlling, an attempt to manipulate the universe and the heart. Place and memory, sense triggers, wayward blinding ambushes of recollection and sometimes searing and sudden reappearances of the past in the heart of the present are the very stuff of grief and not at all subject to our preferences, not in the least concerned with or contingent on the passage of linear time.

Not to get too personal and confessional (too late?), it is also imperative that I preface all references to the partnership with the Poetess with an acknowledgement of my failures. Were this an anonymous blog, my failures could be mapped in detail. Suffice it to say that one narrative that gets to the exact nature of my wrongs but in a very general way is that this was my first partnership in some semblance of sobriety and I unconsciously tried to work it the exact way that I always had in the past, when I was an active addict. My character defects operated just as fully in this partnership as they would have if I had been drinking. I think I was even better at them, actually, since, even in long white knuckle dry periods, I was trying to be virtuous, generous, kind and caring, all to get what I wanted, all to arrange the show to suit myself. Had I been drinking or openly displaying other compulsive or addictive behavior, although it is highly doubtful the partnership would have formed at all, if it had, my selfish, dishonest, fearful and inconsiderate actualities would have manifested more egregiously and much sooner. There is a saying in recovery: "Take away the addictive behavior from a horse thief and all you have is a dry horse thief," and that rings true in this case. If I had been practicing the principles in all of my affairs, I imagine significant differences in substance and eventual outcome.

Since I have had to own my wrongs in as clear-eyed and honest a way to the best of my current ability, I have also consequentially realized that I cause a lot less harm if I just keep myself company and stop trying to manipulate other people. The last thing I ever considered in sexual partnerships was honesty. The price has been everything. Lately, I am asking "how free do you want to be?" That too is the consequence of essential dishonesty and waking to a principle of honesty.

The force of these realizations (as fumbling as they are...Bill W was not kidding when he called AA "spiritual kindergarten") has hit hardest when I have been on these travels. So I'm sure they will resurface at odd times. Lucky you.

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