The privilege of loving

They say you shouldn’t return back to your old home before at least nine months after you move. But I received the opportunity to go back to Seattle at four months in, and I couldn’t pass it up. So, I booked the flights, got Ginger settled at her boarding facility, and headed west for four days. As I sit on the plane on the flight back, holding back tears, I feel like I know why they caution you. It’s hard to go back to a place that holds so many memories, and so much love, knowing you have to go back to a place that is still so new and so challenging. There were so many reasons why I left Seattle, and I know it’s easy to gloss over them now that I’m removed, and I don’t regret moving, but it was so nice and comforting to feel so at ease with everything for a few days. To know where I was going, how to get there, how to interact with the people around me, and to feel so, so much love.

I asked someone recently how they were able to move so many times over the past decade and they said in quiet ease that they didn’t love people so it wasn’t hard to leave them. My breath caught in my throat, and my heart stuttered as I tried to process that foreign thought. I inquired further as to why they don’t allow themselves to love, and the answer was that people aren’t good, that they can and do hurt you. I couldn’t argue with that, I’ve been through enough heartache to fill a large pool. We moved through the conversation and on to other topics, but the comments sat with me through the next few days as I tried to conjure up a picture in my mind of a life with all peripheral relationships, no people to run and fall into their arms when I feel broken and tired and without hope, no one to laugh so hard with that tears stream down my face and my belly aches with joy because we’re connected that closely. I cannot picture that life.

I know that we’re all designed differently, and I have fully embraced the fact that I am definitely designed to feel more than other people, but I also know that it has been an intentional choice to lean into my relationships, to give them my vulnerabilities and insecurities, and to listen to theirs. And those choices have rewarded me with some of the best friends I ever could have asked for. Friends who I’ll have for a lifetime. But, they’re right that the risk of those relationships is unparalleled hurt, because no one can pierce your soul like those closest to you, and believe me, there have been those who have done just that to me, and I know I’ve hurt people myself. We’re all humans, which means we’re all fallible, but we’re also capable of grace, forgiveness and growth.  With great love can come great heartache.

I am risk averse in so many areas of my life. I hate getting into trouble, or feeling like a failure. I’m a bit (maybe a lot) controlling of certain situations, but my relationships are loved with wild abandon. I throw myself into loving people like a base jumper hurling themselves off a mountain. I love quickly and I love hard, and it’s not always fun or easy, but I cannot find a way to stop myself from doing it. It is so deeply and intrinsically me. And because of that, this is why I’m sitting on this plane with a heavy heart, feeling the loss of leaving all over again.

But, I count it as a true privilege to love and be loved in this way. I accept the risk involved, and the heartbreak that can (and does) come. I try to be understanding of where other people are at and try not to give too much of myself to those who cannot or will not return it. Because to love so deeply requires that I be loved as deeply back. That’s what I can offer and what makes me the happiest.

“You can’t go home again” is what a lot of people say and I’m here to disagree. You can go home, but it will be hard. You will be different, they will be different. But if you can accept the moments for what they are, a precious gift, and if you accept the pain and heartache of leaving as a price for incredible, deep friendships, then you absolutely can go home again, and return to your new home filled up with love and joy.

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