When it's good to be alone

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I had just moved across the country with my husband, our male, single roommate, and my mother.

Your mom went too?

Yes. But she had her own place.

And you had a roommate?

Yes.

A single guy?

Yes. But he is super cool, we're still friends, and he was very clean and considerate. We needed a roommate because I didn't have a job.

Oh. I see. *scratches head*

While my west coast modern family went off each day to their new jobs and their new lives, I sulked in my pajamas, trying to figure out which end was up. Trying to figure out how I could have driven my successful life so far off the tracks.

It was late 2002. Recently I've found myself wondering if I had started blogging then, when many of the big name bloggers got started, would things have turned out differently?

Would I have a ridiculously large audience? A book deal? And more importantly, if I had discovered friends and readers like you, and if you were showing up, sharing ideas and perspectives, and supporting me, would I have sidestepped that dark road of feeling so lost and so lonely?

Perhaps I would have snapped more photos and shared the places that pulled me out of the dark, even for a moment. The smell of rosemary fries and the wood burning fire, the way snow-capped Mt. Hood looked majestic from our 7th floor apartment window, and the way my husband and I learned how to stop being boyfriend and girlfriend, stop being roommates and start being married.

I could have told you about Christmas Day, when my mom confessed she had made a mistake and started making plans to go back home. How I felt relieved. Relieved to discover we're not trapped by our choices.

I didn't know blogging existed. I didn't even have my own computer. Instead, I walked blocks to the library, put my name on the waiting list, and a hovered like a vulture so no one would steal my one hour time slot. When a chair finally opened up, I emailed friends, told them about Portland and glossed over the hard to write parts.

Then, I logged off the computer, walked another block to Starbucks, bought a warm, yummy latte, sunk into a comfy chair, pulled out my pen, opened my journal and wrote. And there, my heart felt free to be true to itself. And as I unraveled, I learned—without the comfort of an audience—how to set myself free: free from what other people will think, free from what I thought I wanted, free from my own sky-high expectations, free to be human, free to like what I like, free to do what feels meaningful to me.*

Sometimes I think blogging would have been so good for me. Or perhaps I would have missed the point. Writing for myself, with no feedback, with no foreseeable reward, helped me come back alive. If we believe in the journey of the butterfly, living in Portland was a my chrysalis.

*I borrowed these words from a friend who has read my memoir in progress.