I believe that the worst part of my break-up with Chef was the unfamiliarity of my life without him. I hadn’t realized up until that point how important my routines — the very patterns of my life — had really been to me. Then, suddenly, everything was so different. It happened quickly, the crashing of my life, pretty much falling to pieces all at once, and without mercy. Over the last few years, it was hard to really enjoy the routines I had set up to replace the smashed ones left behind by the break-up. Yes,some tiny parts stayed the same. I continued to drink coffee in the morning, or listen to the news while I got ready for work. Others were different, like caring for stray dogs and writing on a blog. But those were just tiny parts of a whole that seemed to still not be functioning correctly. They seemed to be connected, somehow, to my old life. It was as if their very differences served only to remind me of what I once had, and what was now gone. Overall, I was struggling for every shred of happiness.
Then I came home to Austin.
As an adult, I have never lived in Austin before, but this is the city I was born in. I took my first breath here. I learned to walk and talk here, and it has forever been synonymous in my head to my father. Austin is where my dad and his family were, and in the back of my mind, I guess I always kind of wanted to just come home. I really couldn’t have timed it better. I’m fairly sure the Lord has something to do with that.
I have new routines now. The pattern of my life is not only different now, but it is unconnected to a painful past. I find myself appreciating the beauty of this city daily, and I still get butterflies in my stomach when I realize again, I’m living in Austin, Texas. I’m still not so used to seeing my father’s face that I have begun to take it for granted. Instead, I feel a surge of gratitude each and every time I see him standing at my door. I love to see how Texas seems to suit my daughter Rebekkah; how she has flourished into a beautiful, confident woman, happy again, and no longer suffering under the burden of caring for a very wounded mother. I feel a certain pride every time I pay my rent from a paycheck I earned, and praise God at my ability to still buy groceries and other things I need with what is left over. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much to you, but I have learned only too well how it feels to have to choose between food and a home.
I’m filling up my life again, with family, with new friends, and with things. I have enough stuff in my apartment now, I can honestly say, I would need a truck next time I decide to move. I have things I picked for myself, this time. It is always appreciated when something is given to you, but when all you own in the world is stuff people donated to you, it makes you feel worse than just poor. Over time, I’ve been getting to know myself as just me. Not a part of a marriage, or a team, or a club. I’ve found that I love the colors turquoise and yellow together, as well as gray and yellow. I like rap music…who knew?! I have become both more social as well as less. I’ll save that thought for another time. I wear different styles of clothes now, and even my hair is different. I’m kind of enjoying figuring out who I am these days.
Today, I bought a new laptop; and believe it or not, it was that purchase that made me feel so reflective about my new life today. It was expensive, and I was able to buy it without despairing over ….well, anything. I needed a new one, so I bought one. The minute I paid for it, I realized, the hard years trying to recover from such a terrible break-up are officially over. Yes, there are going to be lean times in the future. There always are. But those lean times won’t be connected to Chef, or drugs, or biker clubs, or Oklahoma. They’ll just be the way life goes sometimes, and I’m good with that. I”m finally home.