|From our St Helens trip in 2010|
Warning: This post is definitely intensely personal in nature and lacks fun bicycle talk (for the most part). If this isn’t your bag, skip this post and read something from the past. Because there ain’t gonna be many posts in the near-term.
Hello friends. Yep, haven’t posted much here lately. This isn’t necessarily by choice. And for the near future, there won’t be much here, alas. I’m still planning on organizing my thoughts regarding my Central Oregon Cascades Tour, but that may not happen as soon as I’d like. And I’m still planning on revamping and switching this blog over to WordPress, but that might not be until September at the earliest. Nope, I’ve got bigger issues in my life to deal with right now.
April and I are breaking up.
This is not an easy thing for me. We’ve been together for nearly four and a half years. We’ve lived together for over three years. We did that big Cross-Continent Tour in 2011 and our relationship survived. We’ve shared a lot of memories and experiences. We built a life together. I was looking forward to spending many more years with April. And now it’s ending. I don’t want this to happen, but in this situation it wasn’t my choice.
Without getting too much into personal detail, I’ll say the main reason of the break-up was “irreconcilable differences.” Differences that were always beneath the surface, differences that I thought we could somehow look past. But it had come to a head.
Looking back, I could see that our relationship had been on decline for some bit. Why yes, we argued as every couple does, but there were no real big blow-ups. No, it was more of a steady coast downhill. Interests diverged, we did less together, etc. To put it bluntly, we stopped growing as a couple.
If I were to soberly analyze the situation, I feel that we had steady upward growth as a couple from when we started going out in February 2009 to the conclusion of the Cross-Continent Tour in October 2011. From that point on, the growth halted, entropy set in. We still had good times together, but I feel that we both went through the motions since our return to Portland. Why? Well, the first year had our initial exploration of our relationship. The following year (2010) was our first foray into co-habitation in the apartment in Montavilla. Then most of 2011 was occupied with the big lead up to the trip and the trip itself. As much as we tried not to, there was a lot riding on that tour in every department. We hoped for a life-changing experience and we did get one.
But then we returned home to Portland and fell into old traps. We ended up moving back into April’s old place, the one she lived in before moving in with me, and with her old room-mates to boot. It was never supposed to be anything more than a temporary situation, but it was easy and it was familiar, and two years later we’re still there. I never felt that comfortable there, as it was April’s old place, not mine. I’ve always felt like I was in limbo. And to add to the limbo, I didn’t gain regular employment until almost a year upon return (April even longer, she just got a steady job a few months ago). And that “regular employment” is the hostel, the same job I held for FIVE years before I went on the trip. Once again, it was easy and it was familiar. But that’s not always good.
I’ve heard this happen from other people who have done long trips, bike tour or otherwise. You see so many amazing and fascinating things out there, and you do grow. But you have to return to “real life” at one point, and that’s boring. Working at the hostel, I’ve seen folks who just keep on traveling for YEARS with no plan, because they are too scared to deal with real life again. But for us, not only did we return to real life, we returned to the same real life that we had before the trip, contrary to our intent. We hoped that we’d be doing different things when we got back. I’m not saying that my life right now is inherently bad. Despite its frustrations, the hostel is still a good job. Our apartment is in a good location. And I have had some growth in some areas over the past two years. For example, I’ve done several randonnees, including a 200 kilometre one, the longest ride I’ve done. I haven’t had an extensive bike tour since the big one, but I’ve done several small ones exploring areas of the Pacific Northwest that I hadn’t explored before.
But honestly, these past two years have been more holding pattern than anything else. Nothing big has changed (except now, obviously.) A lot of this I feel stems from the conclusion of the Tour. Rather than a triumphant accomplishment of the goals we set, the last month of the tour was a long wind-down. We realized that due to time and money we weren’t going to get all the way across the continent after all. A lot of good things happened on the Tour and we got to see some amazing stuff. But the final disappointment was a black cloud above my head, and looking up, I see it’s still there. I’m still disappointed that we didn’t properly “finish” the tour, and I know that some of you readers (and former readers) are too.
The Cross-Continent Tour was probably the best thing that happened to our relationship, as we had a great time together through thick and thin, and amazingly didn’t split up on the road. But it was also probably the worst thing that happened to our relationship. After that high, where could we go? If we had a different situation upon return, one where we really had to figure things out and not fall back on old, pre-tour routines, maybe this long downhill slide may not have happened. Or maybe it would have been much faster? Who knows.
So where do I go from here? This next month will be rough, as I come to terms with the dissolution of our relationship. Things will have to be sorted out, and I need to find a new home. In the long-run I know things will work themselves out but right now I feel anxious and uneasy. Especially since I know things need to change. I can’t keep on coasting, for lack of a better term. I’ll be 38 in August, and while that is by no means old, it ain’t young either. There are things I want to, no NEED to, change about myself. I need to get my teeth fixed. I want to lose some weight. I need to do more art. I need to figure out what the fuck to do with my life. But what does that mean? Every time I think about becoming more of a “professional” artist, I get reminded of the difficulties of drawing work for others, whether it be impossible demands, “it’s fine but could you change, oh, everything?”, or my least favorite, chasing down clients for money. I’ve been wanting to “do something with bikes” for a number of years, but what exactly? I don’t want to be a mechanic. I don’t have the patience or background to become a professional “wonk”. Leading bike tours could be interesting, but there’s loads of logistics, insurance, liability, etc. I’ve looked into working for some local tour companies but they are either unreceptive or they want someone who can also be a mechanic. And let’s not talk about the local bike delivery companies, shall we?
Lately my biggest desire has been to just get out there and ride. After being on the road for four and a half months in 2011, the past couple years I’ve had no desire for a big trip. But I feel that come next year or the year after that, I will. Probably not four-plus months, but maybe a month or two. I’ve only traveled in the US and Canada, so at some point I’m going to NEED to tour overseas. And I won’t be satisfied until I “finish” the Cross-Continent tour and ride from the Midwest to the East Coast. But I won’t be finishing it with April, and that’s probably the biggest bummer of all.
Just so that you all know, I wish no ill will towards April. We shall remain friends. We’ll most likely never do a long tour together again but at some point we may go on a camping trip together, probably with Cycle Wild. I don’t think April will try another big cross-country tour any time in the near future (due to work and interest) but I do know that she’s had her heart set for some time on a solo tour down the Pacific Coast, and also would love to revisit the Icefields Parkway. And I hope she makes that happen.
So let’s end this on a somewhat brighter note. April, we had a good four and a half years together. We learned a lot about ourselves and each other. We had some great adventures together. You were sane enough to put up with my shit, and were also crazy enough to travel across the continent with me. There were some tough times, rough times, but looking back I’ll always fondly remember the good. You cared deeply about me and I cared deeply for you. April Wiza, you will always hold a special place in my heart. I love you. We won’t be sharing our lives together any longer, but I look forward to you having a great future.