My life-partner left me seven years ago this month. It’s been a difficult time since the breakup, to say the least. Severe health issues and two or three jobs later, I still miss our connection.
We were good together. Sure, we had our quarrels. They were understandable given the passion, the love. But we experienced a whole lot together, traveled to incredible places and were invited to witness the entire gamut of the human condition from the slums of Port au Prince, Haiti, to the opulent mansions and castles of the world’s richest elites.
We spent time with presidential candidates, toured prisons and flew in balloons & helicopters together. It was a great relationship.
But then it ended; I got dumped.
I have to admit, even though I’m not always proud of my efforts, there are times when I’ve tried to rekindle things. When those efforts failed, I thought about other relationships, dabbling in the possibility that maybe thismight make me happy, that might make the days more interesting. But so far, nothing meaningful or lasting has come of my attempts.
I still have dreams we’re back together. That’s the weird, sick part of it all. Weirder still, my dreams take me back to just before or just after it all ended. I feel marginalized, diminished in those dreams. Thank goodness I can smile at them when I wake up.
Do I still yearn for and mourn over the past? I do. Do I want things back the way they were? Hmm … sometimes, when nothing seems to be flowing in the right direction. It’s odd, even back then I knew things were going to end and I prepared myself for the inevitability.
So did my wife and family. We got a lower mortgage, pushed the kids through orthodontics, saved money just in case …
But now seven years after the breakup — getting laid off from my journalism career — I find myself inexplicably happier than I was back then. I’ve come to view that time in my life as not always a healthy one. It even felt abusive at times. After I was pushed out the door due to austerity measures, the company’s CEO was given 37.1 million dollars to retire.
If I dwell on it, which is only natural at this annual anniversary, it can bring me down. But if I remind myself how much healthier I am (having survived a shit ton of medical attacks), I find myself breathing easier, happier. Most of the friends I made back then still swirl around me via social media or through actual, physical interactions. What’s missing is the fear, the pit in my tummy, the anxiety.
A smile forces its way across my face.
Seven years into the breakup I look forward to future roles, future positions that fit my skills and talents. The possibilities seem numerous. Will I write for some organization who pays me for my silly insights? Will I take pictures full time for another? Will anyone ever hire a photo editor again? Will I once more teach students how to write or take pictures at another university here or abroad? Or will I continue to perform a fun freelance hybrid of all three (or more)?
And as if by some mystical cue while I’m looking for a conclusion here, several of my former co-workers have begun sharing a photo of me on social media of my last day at my last big newspaper. Grinning in the middle of the group, I see myself wearing a royal cape they crafted for me, hugging someone’s thigh, someone else’s shoulder.
The smile from a couple paragraphs ago is still here.
So am I.
TOP LEFT: photo by Cassidy Johnson — BOTTOM: photo by Dale Parry — MIDDLE: Rodney’s books — RIGHT: Rodney’s videos, photos and blogs