This week, I have found myself questioning what I am doing here, in England, several thousand miles from the country of my birth. I came to the UK in 2009, on my own, to work in Social Work, and I met Stan a year and a half after I moved to London. I was working in a difficult, stressful job in south London, when we met, and had considered returning to the US after my three year contract was finished.
Although I loved the UK, I felt very much alone in my new environment, and spent the majority of my time on my own. I had made some friends in the Buddhist Centre, where I attended meditation and yoga classes, and I had some work colleagues that could loosely be considered friends. But, for the most part, I was alone in a giant city with only my books, writing, and internet for company.
Then I met Stan and we fell in love and my life shifted on its axis. He brought me a whole new world. He shared his rich and colourful life with me. We travelled together throughout the UK, he showed me all his favourite places, and we discovered a few new ones, together. Our relationship deepened, and we married, and I moved to the wild and beautiful northern moors with him.
And then he died, 18 months after our wedding. In the year since his death, I have worked hard to put down roots in this place my husband loved, and I have tried to make this my home.
But sometimes I long for the known world of the US, where my son and his girlfriend live, where my old friends and close family are only a short drive or a short flight away. Sometimes I want to be in a place where I have a history, and people who know me, a place that feels familiar and safe.
I have lived many places, in my life, from Indiana to Montana to San Francisco to Florida, and in each of them, I have felt set apart. I have made friends and had relationships and I have worked and studied, and I have involved myself in politics and spiritual groups. But nowhere have I ever felt at home. Here, with Stan, for the first time in my life, I felt sure that I was where I belonged.
But he's not with me, now, and I wonder, sometimes, if this village in the north of England is truly where I am meant to be. I have work and a house and activities to keep me busy, most days, but time stretches out before me, and the road feels long, and arduous, and empty, without him.
Perhaps I would feel that way, no matter what. Perhaps this is just another layer of my grief, this feeling rootless, and at odds with myself. Perhaps I need to sit with these feelings, and see what comes, rather than flee from them. I have spent my entire life in flight, from one place to another, different climates and cities and surroundings, running from previous circumstances and sorrows, in a relentless effort to find a home, somewhere. Somewhere I fit. Perhaps that place does not exist.
Stan and I were a good fit. We could rely on each other, and we were the best of friends. Our time together was so brief that I barely had time to settle in. Without him, I feel lost at sea, wavering to and fro, without an anchor, rootless, once again.
It has been a difficult week. This grief journey is not a straight path to some mythical end. There are steps forward and leaps backward. There are bucket loads of sorrow followed by snippets of joy. It is all so exhausting and perplexing and sometimes I just want to be free of it.
But I am here, today, in this home we shared, with my feet set upon the ground. And I may move, sometime in the future, but I won't be able to outrun this loss. He gave me roots, brought me comfort, and made me feel at home. It is no wonder that I feel wobbly and uncertain without him.
For now, I am here. And I will do my best to put down roots, though he is not here to help me, and without him, I am so afraid. I'll keep stepping my feet upon this path, placing one foot in front of the other. I'll keep trying to reach out, to find beauty, to strengthen relationships, to breathe deeply, to make this place my home.