The Long Road to the Light

I was trying to remember the other day when was the last time I was truly happy. Now, happy is not an exact metric, but I'm using it to mean relaxed, fulfilled, purposeful, relatively free from worry, and generally content.

I had to go back 10 years. I was 22 and living in Bozeman, Montana and working at a retail store. The work was interesting in the sense that I got to interact with a variety of people, and learn about a variety of things (it was an outdoor gear store that sold camping, climbing, and other sporting equipment).

I lived pretty simply - I had no TV, no computer, no car. I bought a bike and taught myself to ride it (I'd never learned as a kid). I read voraciously since I didn't have a TV. I didn't have a lot of friends - the people at work were mostly younger and had different interests - but I got along with everyone, and they were willing to help out when I got really sick.

I had no debt - none. I made enough to cover my bills and had money left to stash away for college. I was removed from the family drama that had plagued me since high school; they were 1400 miles away, and I talked to them maybe once a week. I remember being a tad lonely and homesick, but not too bad, and writing in my journal helped a lot. I also meditated and was fairly spiritual. I think I went out on one date, and though I had crushes on guys, it wasn't consuming me.

I wonder if I'm romanticizing that time because it was so long ago, and so different than my life now, but I have a clear memory of What Came Before, and that was misery in spades. What Came After was good for awhile - I started at Montana State University and my first semester was great. It began to spiral downward until 2001, when I nearly killed myself. 2002-2004 was a definite improvement, even if you consider the failed attempts at dating. Since 2004, since my current relationship began, since starting grad school, it's been a whole new level of complexity.

I don't deal well with complexity and uncertainty. I like to know what's going on and when, and I like to have a short to-do list. I like to know where everything is in my house, which seems impossible when living with a partner of any sort. After 3 years in a relationship, there seem to be so many layers of meaning even when asking a seemingly simple question. I don't know how to create simplicity in my life when it partially depends on another person. My impulse is to jettison all the "unnecessary" - but for him, much of this is necessary. So I'm back to learning to deal with the complexity.

I'm just completely overwhelmed by it all right now. It's like a massive tangle of wires, and I don't see any reasonable way to untangle them.

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