To be exact, it’s been 104 days — and we’re not talking about the anniversary of a certain tangerine-tinged President. No; it’s been 104 days since January 9th, when Tyler and I officially filed for divorce. As I write this, he’s just arrived in Panama with his new girlfriend (and it’s not exactly breaking news). His new girlfriend is an old friend of mine, someone I once trusted with my doubts and fears and formerly one of my good back country skiing and bike touring buddies.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel angry, hurt and doubly betrayed. I’d also be lying if I said I hadn’t given into my anger once or twice and said things I might regret in time. But what’s the saying? I want to be nobody, because nobody’s perfect.
I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t grateful for those eleven years. Or for the countless adventures — local and international, on a bike or on skis. It would be a giant fib to say I didn’t learn, grow, laugh and even thrive with Tyler.
But the end of it all isn’t what I want to dwell on as I sit waiting for the dishwasher and the dryer to stop on my last morning in Dillon. Instead, I’d like to gnaw on the nuggets I’ve unearthed in these eleven years, the seeds of wisdom the Universe planted in me.
I’ve had long enough… so what have I learned?
- The Universe wants us to be happy.
Over and over through these hard times, as I made myself available to and asked for reassurance from whatever up there knows what’s going on, I have been given what I petitioned for and more.
Take Friday as a shining example of what I mean. I’d spent weeks packing up all my sh*t (how on Earth or whatever dusty corner of the galaxy did I accumulate so much? I landed in CO in 2005 with a bike and a suitcase, for goodness’ sake). Friday, April 21st was the culmination of Operation Move Sylva: we’d hitch up Lindsay’s trailer, head down to Denver, drop my car off at the mechanic for new brakes, unload the trailer at the storage unit, eat some lunch, drive the trailer over to Lindsay’s wholesaler and load up flowers (she owns her own increasingly successful flower biz, Pots and Petals), retrieve my car, unload it at the storage unit, drive back up to Dillon, unload flowers and crash face first on our respective beds.
So — after weeks of weather so unseasonably warm and nice it was almost boring — it snowed heartily the night before. And those wicked, cold little white things persisted from the skies into the morning.
As the wind whipped snow in our faces, Lindsay and I loaded up the last bits of furniture I needed four arms for. When Ashton arrived we headed down to the Dirty D.
Everything went smoother than Justin Timberlake’s hip-hop harmonies (I had to work that in since a hungover Jizzy Tizzy and Jessical Biel visited the Arapahoe Cafe yesterday morning) until we departed the Yardhouse in Arvada with full bellies. Back on 1-70, Lindsay merged left to prepare for the joys of I-76. A blue CRV in front of us slammed on their brakes for no apparent reason. Lindsay slowed down abruptly but she had more than adequate room between us and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb. The lady behind us did not; a sharp bang and a solid impact was quickly followed by the sound of dragging metal on pavement.
“We lost the trailer,” said Lindsay matter-of-factly, pulling over to the left shoulder.
Then ensued the joys of insurance swapping and waiting for police on the side of a very busy Interstate. Semis whizzed by like stinky comets as I eyed the Jersey Barrier I leaned upon, ready to jump it like an Olympic hurdler if anyone else on I-70 decided to cause mayhem.
In my periphery, I see two figures running up the road — one tall and dark haired, one curvy and shorter, with shoulder length hair tousled by the chilly breeze. I blink; it’s Matt and Erica, two good mutual friends of mine and Lindsay who live in Summit County, too!
“I saw your rainbow hair!” Erica said, wrapping me in a burrito hug. “I was like stop! That’s Sylva!”
What are the odds Erica and Matt would be zipping by just after (a very sweet girl in cowboy boots) rear-ended us?
And furthermore, what are the odds Erica would have ample nylon webbing for Matt to produce a series of adept knots that looked more like hyacinth blossoms than anything that would, in the end, get us, the flowers and the trailer all safely back up to Dillon? Without that fortuitous roadside rendez-vous, Lindsay, Ashton and I would probably still be waiting on the side of I-70 for a tow…
2. Learn to let go
The other day at the doctor, the physician’s assistant who took my vitals asked me if I was a professional athlete — my oxygen saturation was 98 percent. I laughed but she was serious. I mean yeah, I skin the Basin semi-obsessively these days but I also eat cream cheese-infested bagels like tomorrow’s my last day on Earth and practically soak in a pool of stress (which is ending once I get on the plate to Italy this evening!). I told her I think maybe it’s because I have never taken so many deep breaths in such a short period of time — it’s how I manage most of my tough emotions in the moment. It’s how, breathing out, I can start to let go.
For a lot of us — myself included, and those of you who know my extensive wardrobe know the truth — even parting with stuff is hard. We always mean to go through our closet and give away enough unused clothing to cloth a Laotian village. Or part with our back up pair of beat up early season skis, the books growing ant-sized, dust stalagmites… and do we really need seventeen jackets? Maybe…
Material crap aside, try letting go of an eleven year chapter of your life, a life partner, a best friend. It’s not entirely easy and like many hard lessons, it occurs in painful increments. Occasionally, I feel like I’m emotionally stuttering, unable to move past anger, or sadness or pain. But I know if letting go is all I can master through this, it will be worth it. And even the little whiffs of letting-go-ness I catch are oddly uplifting, stabilizing and above all: freeing. Especially with a lot of deep breaths!
3. We are never alone — but we are enough.
Popular culture would suggest to be complete, we need another. Look at every Disney movie ever penned, listen to the radio where the singer croons about having found a reason to live after meeting the girl or guy of their dreams. Take “All I’m Asking” by Band of Heathens, as an example (a ditty, incidentally, that is catch enough to have made it to my road trip playlist — Sylva’s Free Bird Mix)
“My mind is right for the first time
I found a reason, I figured out the round
If you let me, I’ll do better
Maybe next time, we’ll be together”
After awhile the tune gets lodged in your brain like a treble-cleft shaped dart — and so does the insinuation that we’re not whole until we are in a couple. Being with someone can be magical, but it’s not paramount to our sense of self.
Newsflash: We are already enough. I am already enough.
Even for an independent soul like myself, after more than a decade with someone, I had to wrap my little pea brain around a few key points: I am capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to and even if I felt lonely sometimes that didn’t mean I was alone. Au contraire; during these 104 plus demanding days, people have literally sprung from the woodworks to help, encourage, listen and be there in ways I could not have appreciated if I were in another space in my life.
4. Nothing is Final
On a recent trip to Moab, Utah with the parental units, I was given the opportunity to say my goodbyes to the desert — at least for now. Thanks to my parents’ Old Fogie Pass ($10 for the whole year), we flitted around Island in the Sky National Park for a whole day. I sunburned my calves and took a billion pictures (which, incidentally, I just accidentally deleted — I had to take a deep breath and practice letting go!).
As I looked across the endless vista, past white sandstone rims, red Kayenta cliffs and Moenkopi waves, I got a strong whiff of cheese. Why? Because I happened to be thinking, as I often am these days, that time heals all wounds (and produces breathtaking desert landscapes). I was also pondering how change is the only thing that stays the same And therefore, nothing at all could be final — so all the goodbyes rolling constantly off my tongue were more like catch-you-on-the-flip-sides. I’d see the desert again if I wanted to; heck, I could even move back to Slummit if I felt like it (which, I have an inkling, is a nudge closer to improbable).
None of us is ever stuck or nailed to the floor by any decision. Our futures are reversible, malleable. Even the most gargantuan problem can be solved, if only we are able to see it as solvable — which brings me to:
5. Everything is possible — even the “impossible”
During the last four plus months — going through a divorce, suddenly alone, moving to Oregon, packing, trying to stay in shape and connect with friends, working six days and a night or two a week, fighting sinusitis and food poisoning — I began to feel the cold fingers of despair creeping up my pasty legs. This was impossible! Especially faced with a to-do list that looked more like the US Constitution:
But as of last night, I climbed A Basin in 54 minutes (just four minutes shy of my record), my crap is all packed in storage, my list is checked off, my catch-ya-on-the-flip-sides are said (mostly via a kickass party on Wednesday night), I’ve saved as much money as possible and I feel strong, independent and free!
It’s like they say — small steps to a big goal. I’ve never been one for goals, except in the rare occasion I kick a soccer ball. But then again, nothing is impossible: I’ve just accomplished more than I ever imagined several months ago!
Although I have more to share, I’ll leave it there in order to cruise down to Denver and hang out with my uncle Benjamin. This evening, I’m hopping aboard a plane to skip the pond. Tomorrow, I’ll be standing in the rain, growing webbed feet with my friend Lisa as we hike and camp in Northern Italy’s Apennine mountains…
Ciao for now Summit County!