I presented a possible plan for our stay in Denver, that we should stay at a hotel instead of with the new friends who had offered a room at their house. There was no reply.
Nervous, I came up with another suggestion, for a different hotel in a different location. Still no reply from the friend who had flown from Victoria to meet me in New Orleans, and then changed his flight so he could drive with me to Denver, to get a few more days together.
Then I took a deep breath and told him how I was feeling.
“I’m fine with anything,” he said in surprise. “You’re the one who has done all the travelling, so I was leaving it to you to decide.”
And that’s how it goes with a new relationship. I’d spent 30 years with a man who used silence to express disapproval and my reaction was automatic. I struggle to be aware and react to the present, not the habits and feelings that well up from the past.
My travels were a trial by fire for a fledgling relationship, with long separations when we barely knew each other. But the lack of emotional nuance and tone that is often considered a problem in on-line communication was in some ways an advantage. The ability to pause and step back and see the words written allowed contemplation and helped me recognize patterns I needed to change. Long, in-depth conversations grew over time, and as we all know, it’s easier to be brave at the keyboard. I was determined to be as open-hearted in this relationship as I now am with the other people in my life.
Peter accepted my sorrow, as I processed the end of my marriage. He held me when I cried, both with his arms when we were together and with his words when we were apart. He assured me that we would make our own memories.
And he was right, we have.
A week in New Orleans together softened the remembering of past trips. We survived three days together in a car, no mean feat!
“Is that reiki?” one or the other says, and we laugh until we gasp, remembering the shared incident. We know each other well enough to tease.
Our relationship is new territory for me. At this stage of my life, it will not be the socio-economic partnership required for raising children and accumulating assets. I will never again let go of my boundaries so far that I forget who I am. We will not live together. And Peter has his own life, obligations that do not involve me.
I will continue my journeys– in a week I leave for Peru. But perhaps on some of my future brave travels, I will have a partner.