When Life Leads You Back to Roads That You Thought Were Closed Off Forever

a vintage map of Texas
Image by Casidyrose / CC BY

A while back, I wrote an essay called “It’s Easy to Convince Yourself That an Opportunity Has Passed Forever, But That Doesn’t Mean You’re Right.”

In that piece, I talk about how I’d ask for science toys for Christmas, but my mother would shake her head. She’d say, “You’ll blow up the house.” This warning made sense when it came to something like a mini lab kit (although the included chemicals were probably fairly nerfed). But it made considerably less sense regarding the kit to grow your own crystals I was asking for.

But she said no, and I never got one. Not as a kid and not even later, when I went on to make my own money and very well could have gotten one for myself. I had an emotional block about the whole thing, you see. I decided that I’d missed that opportunity forever. That I’d never have a crystal-growing kit. So I didn’t get one.

Until my partner convinced me I should pick one up.

As I wrote in a later post, the kit worked. I grew crystals. Since then, my in-laws have gifted me other nifty crystal kits. And I have tentative plans to attempt an experiment from scratch, with the raw components. It’s just as much fun as I hoped it would be as a kid.

A Childhood Toy is One Thing; Re-Centering Your Life Is Another

It’s a nice story. A nice thought. That we can be led back to roads that we thought were closed off forever. But it’s one thing when it’s something trivial — like a Christmas toy that you never got.

It’s another thing when the change involved would be about re-centering your life. Reworking your priorities. Or, say, moving to a new area.

And it’s just such a drastic change that I find myself suddenly faced with.

People Normally Leave Maine for College…Or Not At All

A little over eight years ago, I moved from Bangor, Maine, to Cleveland, Ohio. That decision, everything that led up to it, and everything that came from it in the short term are recounted in my first book, Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory.

But the important part is that Cleveland represented a giant adventure. A drastic departure from the norm. Mainers are not known for being adventurous. From what I could see growing up there, people generally moved away from Maine when they went to college or they didn’t at all.

I’d had the opportunity to leave Maine for college, as the recipient of a large scholarship (a full ride) at the University of North Texas, the most prestigious program in the country for Jazz Studies, what I would be studying.

But like an idiot, I didn’t take advantage of it. Instead, I stayed local and went to the University of Maine. Because that’s where my boyfriend at the time was going (Greg). And life punished me almost immediately for this idiotic decision, as that same boyfriend broke up with me the summer before classes started.

I consider this one decision the biggest mistake I ever made. Absolutely the wrong choice.

I was listless and depressed at UMaine. I changed my major five or six different times in the few years that I took classes there, before I took time off to work full time at Borders Bookstore (tending poetry and medical reference in books and jazz in the music section) and then went on to found a (fairly successful, albeit short-lived) poetry magazine.

I Made the Most of Being in Maine Until Cleveland Came and Found Me

I made the most of it, being stuck in Maine. Married one of the locals. Threw myself into the arts scene and did my part to add a little bit to it. But there was a pervasive sadness, like I’d missed an important boat leaving the harbor, and there wasn’t going to be another one.

But 11 years after I foolishly turned down the North Texas scholarship, the opportunity to move to Cleveland and become part of a bohemian group of people (a mix of polyamorous folks, kinksters, artists, activists, and hackers) presented itself.

Moving to Cleveland was nothing that I really sought out or tried to do. Instead, it became possible through an improbable chain of events — largely because of a doctor I befriended (and later dated) who had recently relocated from Ohio to Central Maine and still had a play partner back in Cleveland.

She introduced me to that play partner, who first got to know me virtually and then visited me. We hit it off. I spent a year getting to know him and his friends, and then I leapt. Picked up everything I had and came to Cleveland.

That motley bohemian group of people is still my friends group. Have there been dramatic exits and entrances over the past eight years? Sure. But more or less, those are my people still. My chosen family.

I Thought I’d Never Get Back to North Texas, But I Built Something Beautiful in Cleveland

I knew I’d never get back to North Texas, but I found something else out here in Cleveland. Something really freaking beautiful. A place where I belonged. A supportive group of interesting friends. A good therapist. And it was in Cleveland that I’d first study to become a psychological researcher, go on to be a training manager at a psychological consulting firm, and ultimately end up as an author and a relationship coach in alternative communities.

I knew I’d never get back to North Texas, but I built something beautiful here in Cleveland.

Unexpectedly Texas Bound

Except… well, the universe has an extraordinarily funny sense of humor.

Because, you see, my partner just accepted an incredible position in North Texas. And it’s official now. I’ll be moving to Dallas-Fort Worth sometime over the next several months. Within a stone’s throw of the school I would have gone to had I not squandered the opportunity.

Everything has come full circle.

I’m led right back to the place I thought I’d never get a chance to return to. The next boat finally pulled into harbor. It’s time to go.

*

I have so much here in Cleveland that I’m leaving behind.

There’s a lot to sort through, to deal with. As with any large cross-country move, there are thousands of logistical problems to solve. My arms are already aching from numerous trips lugging boxes down the attic stairs, prepping them for donation.

I’ve been doing my best to research North Texas from afar. Figure out how best to settle in once I finally arrive there. How to build something new. Another place to belong…and not just survive but thrive.

As I write this, I have a lot ahead of me that I have to do. None of it is easy work. It’s all time consuming and some of it is physically exhausting.

But it must be done.

Everything’s come full circle.

*

My new book is out!

Dealing with Difficult Metamours, the first book devoted solely to metamour relationships, full of strategies to help you get along better with your partners’ other partner(s).

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