Day 62: Sadness in Anchorage

I checked into my Airbnb around 10:00 pm and followed the directions to get inside. I climbed the stairs outside and took my shoes off at the landing. The house had three stories: the top floor where the owners live, the lower level with two bedrooms and a shared bathroom, and the basement level floor with two more rented rooms and a shared bathroom.

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I got settled into my room and went to sleep feeling happy and content. The few days prior to arriving in Anchorage were wonderful, fun, encouraging, and beautiful. They were also tiring. I didn’t get much sleep and I was starting to get a cold. I took some cold medicine and tried to let myself sleep in the next day, but I still woke up after about seven hours. I laid around and got some things done like writing reviews of my recent Airbnb stays.

After a few hours, I headed to Target to do some shopping. I talked with my sister while sipping on my Starbucks latte. For the first time in a long time, it felt like a regular day that I would have experienced before I started traveling.

After Target, I headed to Subway to grab a sandwich. The music playing was a country song I had heard many times on the radio station in Fairbanks. It goes “sunrise, sunburn, sunset, repeat.” It was so noticeable to me because you never hear country music playing in Los Angeles. But I had heard this song so much in the last week, I actually recognized it.

I got back to my room at the Airbnb, ate, and watched Like Father on my iPad mini. A guy I had matched with on Tinder messaged me and asked if I like to watch volleyball because there was a game that night and the following night at the University (my profile mentions volleyball). I asked what time the games were and he said 7:30 pm. I thought about it for awhile because I needed to pay bills and catch up on some work, like writing. I finally showered and messaged him around 6:30 pm asking if he still wanted to go to the game that night. He wrote back around 7:15 pm saying “Oh, I’m sorry Christy! I was just telling you about the game. I came over to my buddies to help him move.” He continued to message, trying to get to know me.

What the heck?! Who does that? I felt like an idiot for thinking he was asking me out. My face literally got flush with embarrassment. But then I got irritated wondering why he would ask me if I liked watching volleyball and then give me the details as far as days and times, but not actually ask me out. That’s pretty crappy. I didn’t respond to his other messages.

My parents called and I talked with them for awhile about their current trip in Colorado. I briefly mentioned that I was on a dating site. My dad started into a rant about what I need to look for in men worth marrying. This really frustrated me. I told my dad I do not plan on getting married again. It cost me significantly, both emotionally and financially, to get out of my marriage. Nobody can ensure their partner will actually be a decent person for decades. My dad was not happy about this and the whole conversation left me feeling incredibly judged and alone.

I want a life partner. I want someone who loves me for me. Not for the person they think I am or for the person they wish I was. I want someone who sees me. My ex-husband never saw me. He didn’t notice anything about me. He didn’t love me. I want someone who actually remembers things about me, asks about my day, asks about things that make me who I am.

I was feeling incredibly lonely. Not just lonely, but completely alone. It’s the feeling that I am not “number one” to anybody. Not a single person in this world puts me first. I am nobody’s “person.” Friends, family – they all have a number one. I am not it. I am somewhere on the list, but will never be number one. There was a pain in my heart knowing I was down on every single list.

I felt sad. And then I felt frustrated. I don’t want to get married again and people can’t seem to understand that, especially my parents. I do want a partner. But there are no guarantees in life. If that person is not who they led me to believe or they change drastically into a terrible person, I want the freedom to get out easily without losing all of my money.

Marriage is one thing in life you cannot control. You can work so hard, do all the right things, and it can still fail. You cannot force your partner to invest in the relationship, and if they don’t, you have two choices. Your first choice is to stay in the marriage, unhappily and hope it gets better. A lot of people do this. I see people all the time who are unhappily married. Your second option is to get a divorce. That’s it. There is not a third option.

This is a bad deal in my eyes. I feel that when people are married, they know they can slack off and their spouse will not divorce them for little things like forgetting a birthday or not helping out around the house. The thing is, all those little things add up. That’s what makes or breaks a relationship. If you’re just dating, people know it’s easier for their partner to end it so they’re more likely to keep investing and be a good partner. Because if not, your partner could easily end it. But with marriage, there’s no such thing as an easy ending.

I was frustrated with the fact that I could have a few amazing days and suddenly feel so sad and lonely. My Myers Briggs personality says my personality type is the type most at home in a relationship and always looking for that life-long partner. It feels like a curse. I am independent and I would rather be alone than be with the wrong person. But yet, I still want that partnership. I want the love, the intimacy, and the adventure. And I don’t have it.

Post Edited By: Mandy Strider
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Day 46 – Lies

Checking out of the Best Western Plus, I tried to use the ATM to take out cash because I heard the further north I went, the more I’d run into establishments that only accepted cash. The ATM kept giving me an error so I called my bank, who said it must be the ATM because I should be able to take out cash.

I drove to a gas station to fill up and to use the ATM there. I was frustrated when I saw a sign saying their ATM was out of service. Next, I drove to Canadian Tire. I wanted the stick thing that shoots a firework above the bear’s head, but they were out of stock so I bought the bear spray. The day was turning out to be irritating and I hadn’t even left Fort St. John yet.

My GoPro wasn’t charging, which was very disappointing since I bought it for the beautiful drive. I was heading towards Fort Nelson, which was about a four-hour drive. As I listened to music on the empty road, I thought about relationships.

I thought about my ex-husband, Aaron. I thought about all of the lies he told and how it made me feel. When Aaron and I were dating, he was still in college. He is five years younger than me and he was pursuing a degree when we started dating.

We had been married for about nine months when I realized he should be graduating with his bachelor’s degree in a few months, but he hadn’t talked about it at all. I had felt something was off because I never saw him doing homework. When I’d ask, he said he did it while I was at work. He often worked from 3:00 pm to 12:00 am and I worked during the day, so it was possible. When I asked about classmates or what he was learning, he’d tell me. But he never volunteered the information, which seemed strange to me. I would get busy with life and forget about it.

That February night, right before my birthday, is a day I’ll never forget. I asked to see his school schedule and he was surprised. He hesitated and walked to the computer. He explained, “I can’t log on. My mom has the password because she pays for school.” I replied, “Give her a call.” Aaron responded, “But it’s 10:00 at night.” I noticed his hands were shaking and that’s when I knew he wasn’t in school. I insisted he call his mom for the password and then he finally admitted that he wasn’t in school, and hadn’t been for almost two years.

I still remember how I felt: broken-hearted, disrespected, betrayed, and angry. I locked him out of the bedroom and cried myself to sleep. How could my husband, the person who is supposed to be my life partner, betray me so terribly? I felt stupid for not paying attention to the signs. I was embarrassed that he could pull off such a stunt – making up a life for almost two years.

I thought, “Does this mean we should divorce? I can’t trust him. I don’t even know what else he’s lying about. He wouldn’t admit this until I finally asked for proof. I can’t be divorced after less than a year.” I never pictured myself divorced and I worked very hard at being a good wife, so it felt overwhelming to know that this was what had become of my life.

I went to work the next day and Aaron sent me flowers. My coworkers were jealous of the beautiful arrangement and I felt too embarrassed to explain why he sent them. At lunch time, Aaron showed up and we talked. He said he was afraid to tell me he wasn’t in school because he knows I value education. It felt as if he didn’t know me. Yes, I value education, but I also know college isn’t for everyone. What I care about is someone having passion and working towards achieving their dream.

Aaron knew how to influence me. He knew I’d feel guilty – as if it were my fault. He was just trying to please me. It worked and I worried that I pressured him to continue in school. While I was upset that I’d continue being the breadwinner, I didn’t want to be divorced. We stayed together, but never really fixed the issue. Throughout the next seven years, Aaron would lie here and there. It was always about stupid stuff and that worried me because if he lied about small stuff, wouldn’t he lie about big stuff too?

After eight years of marriage, Aaron traveled to Atlanta for work after finally getting promoted at his job. I texted him, realizing it was 1:00 am there and he hadn’t called or texted goodnight. He lied and said he was sleeping. I could see on his “find my iphone” that he was at a bar. Not knowing I could track him, he said he had stepped into the hallway to talk so he wouldn’t wake his roommate.

It was then that I knew my marriage was over. It had been eight years of lies. He knew I was sensitive to lies because of his history, and he never confessed. He would deny it until I had proof. I figured he was likely lying about other things that I couldn’t prove, and I didn’t care to. He tried to make me feel guilty once again, explaining he lied because he was afraid that I’d be disappointed that he was out drinking when he was there for work. It didn’t work this time. I had encouraged him to go out drinking with friends for years. That’s when I realized he was trying to manipulate me.

Being married to a liar was a horrible feeling in my soul. I never wanted to be the person who had to check up on their partner. I never wanted to be the paranoid person that was constantly worried that my husband was being unfaithful. According to my therapist, being married to someone who lies is the same as having a cheating partner. You end up with the same emotion: feeling betrayed.

It was like I had been on a treadmill running as fast as I could. No matter how hard I tried, I was still on a treadmill, going nowhere. It would take me seven more months to ask him to move out of the house, and another six months to file for a divorce. It wasn’t easy and I cried for a year after. But the freedom I felt once he moved out was life-changing. The day after he moved out, it felt like I was off of the treadmill. I broke the cycle and was now in control of my life.

Driving the Alaska highway gives a person a lot of time to think and reflect. As I wound through the mountains and fields, I thought about those lies. I reminded myself that I’m stronger now. I won’t tolerate lies in a relationship again. My heart still aches when I think about the feeling of betrayal. When it comes from a life partner, the person who is supposed to have your back in life, it feels devastating. While I get lonely at times as a solo traveler, I’d take that over being in an unhappy marriage any day.

Post Edited By: Mandy Strider

Day 39 – Feeling Vulnerable on a Hike

During the bike tour, the guide recommended a few hikes in the area that I wanted to try. I was already staying on the side of a mountain in West Vancouver, so the drive would be an easy 15 minutes to the trail head.

That morning, I finished up a blog post about how I had felt on day 5: depressed. I was nervous about posting it because it was so raw. The beginning of my trip was not easy. I experienced a tremendous amount of change in a very short period of time and had a hard time figuring out my new normal.

I uploaded the blog post and left for the hike around 4:00 pm. When I arrived at Eagle Bluff Trail, the Olympic rings were still on display from 2010. There was a vacant ski lift, swaying in the cool summer breeze. The clearing of trees showed the runs that skiers traversed the hills during the winter months.

The total trail was just under six miles and 1,500 ft elevation gain. Large rocks quickly appeared on the dirt trail, making the incline a little more difficult. I passed several ponds and lakes.

The green trees against the bright blue sky reminded me of why I wanted to go to the Pacific Northwest so badly. After being in the California drought for more than a decade, it was what I needed. I could feel life growing in the forest.

Continuing to climb, the trail turned into roots from the towering trees above. They provided great shade, but were definitely trip hazards. A fellow hiker tripped on a root when she looked up to see me and fell. The guy with her and I made sure she was ok and they continued on.

Starting the trail, I didn’t have cell service. As I continued to climb, cell service would sporadically appear and a text message would come through – messages of concern from friends and family. Then the Facebook notifications appeared. Words of encouragement after reading my blog post on depression.

I started to panic and thought, “Why did I post that? I shouldn’t have written about it.” I felt embarrassed and exposed as I thought about all of the people who I’m connected with on Facebook – old coworkers, family, friends, and neighbors. I desperately wanted to take down the post but didn’t have much cell service. The entire climb up, I worried about that post and how it would make me look: weak.

When I arrived at the top of the mountain, there were a few people taking pictures and enjoying the view. I found a large rock to sit on, eat a powerbar, and admire the view. It was incredible!

Looking to the west, I could see mountains surrounded by the ocean. To the south was the ocean with some smoke in the background from a fire burning in the bog. To the southeast was the city of Vancouver. With 180 degree, the views didn’t stop.

I sat in awe and reminded myself that the reason I’m blogging about my trip is because I want people to experience what I’m experiencing. Sometimes it’s lonely, scary, and confusing. I was determined not to be afraid of revealing who I really am. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to please others and to be “good enough.”

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I believe God created each of us to be unique and I think he delights in who we are. I try my best to follow the path God has set for me. But society, parents, the workplace, friends, the church, and strangers all have expectations of who we should be. After trying to get the approval of all of these people, I finally broke. It was exhausting and left me feeling alone. Over the last few months, I decided to be me. I have to keep reminding myself of this as it doesn’t come naturally. I’m a people pleaser and I hate disappointing people. I decided I would leave the post up.

The climb was worth the view. A chipmunk attempted to get into my backpack several times and I had to keep scaring him away. I headed back down the mountain so I would finish before dark. On my way back down, I took a wrong turn and ended up at the top of the ski lift. I saw two very fit and attractive guys who looked to be in their late 20s taking photos. One guy had his shirt off, while the other took pictures. They also had a small dog with them. I couldn’t help but laugh in my head. Hopefully the pictures were for something legitimate, but I wondered if they were for his Tinder profile.

When I walked around the ski lift area, the bugs started to attack and they seemed to love my ears. The buzzing sound would make me scream every time. The guys I had seen a few minutes earlier showed up and asked if I knew where the trail was to get back down. I told them I think we made a wrong turn and it was back up the other way. Of course, a bug flew near my ear and I screamed, looking like a maniac.

The guys started heading down the rocky path. I went back to the trail and headed towards where I thought it diverged. I ran into a group of four young, attractive people in their 20s. One of the girls asked me for directions and I showed her on my map where they needed to go. I asked if they were heading to the top because it was getting pretty late. They said they were heading to the top to watch the fireworks.

My bike tour guide told me about the fireworks. It was their annual firework competition. Sweden was going to display their best fireworks by setting them off from a barge in the water. The previous Saturday, South Africa showcased their fireworks and the final show would be the following Saturday with South Korea.

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I didn’t want to hike down in the dark after the fireworks. Plus, I had a great view of the harbor from my Airbnb. I continued to the bottom and made it my car around 9:00 pm. When I got back to the Airbnb, I realized I didn’t have any food. I used Yelp to find a place, but most places didn’t deliver to West Vancouver.

I called a pizza place in West Vancouver and asked if they’d deliver. The man who answered was annoyed and said he would not deliver because they closed at 10:00 pm and he’s really busy. I said it was only 9:20 pm but I could come pick it up. After arguing with him, and having to call him back, he took my order and said, “If you’re not here to pick it up in 15 minutes, I’m closing up and you won’t be able to pick it up”. Dang.

I hurried there and picked up my pizza. They were not busy and I’m guessing he just wanted to close early to see the fireworks. I took my pizza back to the Airbnb and ate in the large dining room that overlooked the harbor. I sat in the dark so I could see the fireworks better. For 30 minutes, Sweden showed off their best fireworks in a stunning show.

I read through the messages, comments, texts, and emails that people had sent me about my blog post. Even though I still felt embarrassed, it felt good to know so many people could relate to my struggle and were there to encourage me when I needed it. I’m not alone. To date, that’s one of my most read posts.

Post Edited by: Mandy Strider

 

Leaving Los Angeles (Part 2)

After leaving my house, I knew I needed a place to crash for a few days so I could sort through stuff that I had frantically thrown in my car. My friend Valerie offered her 1 bedroom apartment and said she’d stay with her boyfriend so I had the place to myself. She has a super cute apartment about 1 block from the ocean in Long Beach. When I arrived Wednesday evening, I had to unload a lot of stuff from my car. After many trips to and from my car, I finally sat down at her kitchen table. Her apartment was similar to the apartments I had lived in when I first moved to Los Angeles when I was 23. They’re all pretty old, have similar old doors and cabinets, and no air conditioning. I had cried (sobbed really) the entire way to Valerie’s apartment. After unloading the car, I finally ate for the day, a frozen meal I grabbed from my freezer on the way out of my house. Living alone means I eat my fair share of frozen dinners. Deafening silence engulfed every inch of the apartment and surrounded me.

I sat there eating in silence, crying. A feeling come over me that felt like I just slid back in life. I spent 15 years building a life; found and married my husband, bought and sold a condo, bought a house, and built a great career. Now it was all gone. I was jobless, homeless, and had no husband. I was back in an apartment similar to one I had 13 years ago, listening to the neighbors fight through the wall. Now I understood why so many friends were shocked when they found out what I was doing, what I was giving up. Fear sweep over me and I wondered what the heck I was doing.

Over the next few days, I sorted and organized my stuff. I bought a GoPro for my travels, and installed a roof top cargo box on my car. I went for a run on the beach, a path I used to run when I lived in Long Beach. I met up with friends to say more goodbyes. I still struggled to sleep. It’s maddening when you can’t sleep, even though you’re very tired.

I planned on leaving on Sunday so I didn’t overstay my welcome at Valerie’s apartment. A friend was having a party on Saturday so I decided to go. On the hour-long Uber ride there, I chatted with the driver and he was about to embark on a 3 week road trip with his girlfriend across the US. I told him about my plans and how I just sold my house and quit my job. My friend Trisha had suggested that I make business cards with my blog, Vimeo, and Instagram information for people I meet along the way. I had literally just picked up the cards so as I left the Uber, I handed him a card. He thanked me and started following me on Vimeo the next day (that was super exciting!). He helped me grab some drinks from the trunk and said “You’re a little crazy. But it’s a good kind of crazy.” That made me smile. I am a little crazy.

At the party, I was able to see several friends one last time. We ended up going to a local bar afterwards and heard some live music. Once back at my friend’s house, I chatted with a couple of friends and fell asleep on the couch around 3am. It was my last night in LA and I didn’t want it to end. Finally around 4am, I grabbed an Uber back to Valerie’s apartment.

At 10am, I met two friends (Karyn and Mo) for breakfast. Knowing I was leaving that day and recently having had my heart broken (that’s a different story), I cried through most of breakfast (thankfully most people don’t go to brunch at 10am). Embarrassing you say? Yes, very much so. I remember the days in high school and college where I never cried in front of people, ever. My friends used to think I was a little cold because I didn’t really cry. Well, apparently my tear ducts are making up for lost time because I’ve cried more in the last 2 years than ever before. I was feeling so much loss, all at once, that I simply couldn’t handle it. Losing the house felt like losing my husband all over again. Maybe that’s why he was able to move on so quickly and I haven’t? I didn’t realize how much of my life with him was still tied to living in that house. My friends were very patient and understanding. They talked me through everything and helped me feel a little less alone. They asked where I was going that night and I had no clue. I couldn’t decide between the coast, up to Mammoth, or just go through the middle of California. After talking it out with them, I decided to head through the middle so I could get to Oregon and start exploring. I’ve seen a lot of California and had to be in Denver by August 31st so I wanted to spend most of my time in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska.

After breakfast, I went back to Valerie’s apartment and started getting my bags ready to be loaded up. Two friends (Debbie and Robin) stopped by to grab the spare key to my storage unit and a little safe with things like my birth certificate. Did I continue to cry? Yes.

Around 3:30pm, I was ready to head out but first had to stop at my storage unit to drop off a few more items and go to Best Buy to buy a keyboard for my iPad mini since the laptop I wanted wasn’t available anywhere. My friend, Trisha, met me at Best Buy with her kids so I could say goodbye. We didn’t get a chance to say goodbye earlier because of timing. I’m glad I was able to have a face to face goodbye with her and she encouraged me that things would get better. Around 4:30pm, I was ready to head out from Best Buy and hit the road. Trisha asked me where I was going first and I said “Probably Merced”. I didn’t have a hotel booked so I figured I’d see how far I made it.

As I drove through Los Angeles, getting stuck in some traffic, I felt a sense of loss. Los Angeles is where I had just spent most of my adult life and it had become my home. I moved about every 4 years growing up, living in different cities in Missouri and Colorado, and each move was hard. The hardest move was when my parents were separated and my sister, mom, and I were living in my step grandmother’s house while she was touring Europe for the summer. My dad showed up in the evening about a week before school was supposed to start with a loaded Uhaul filled with all of our stuff from storage. My parents said they were getting back together and I needed to pack my suitcase because we were moving back to Missouri (we were currently living in Canon City, CO). I didn’t get to say goodbye to my friends and we were gone by the morning. This was very dramatic for my 13-year-old self because I’m someone who needs closure. I need to say goodbye and I need to stay in touch with people. I don’t like losing people.

With this move, I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to my house, and having no clue where I would spend the next few months felt overwhelming. I drove over the mountains and into farmland as the sun set and realized it was June 24th, the one-year anniversary of when my divorce had been finalized. All I could think was “This has to get better, right?”

Post edited by: Misty Kosek

Leaving Los Angeles (Part 1)

I had been anticipating leaving Los Angeles for several months so I thought I’d be ready to say goodbye. Once I gave my resignation at work and it was Facebook official that I was leaving, I went through many “goodbye” lunches, dinners, and conversations. I was so preoccupied with getting ready for a going away party I was throwing, going through the process of selling my house (inspections, repairs, appraisal, etc), and finishing up projects at work that I couldn’t really process anything.

Everything was going according to plan with the sale of my house and we were on track. My realtor (and friend) Jenny, was extremely helpful letting a plumber in my house to do repairs while I was at work and reminding me of even more papers I needed to sign.

For my going away party, I hired a taco cart, a bar tender, and rented some cocktail tables. I wanted to have one last celebration in my house and go out in style. I put in a lot of effort to design the back yard of my dreams and it was a perfect spot for entertaining. But throwing a party is work. The party was a blast and I couldn’t have been happier to see my friends. I even made a DIY photo booth, which was great fun! The party flew by so fast, I felt like I didn’t even get a chance to talk to people. It was a lot of “hellos” and then “goodbyes”. I didn’t feel sad to be saying goodbye. I felt incredibly blessed to have all these wonderful, smart, kind people in my life. I had been in California for 15 years and I was proud of the life I made there. Not to brag, but I really do have amazingly talented friends that are a blast to be around. It was a night I’ll remember forever.

My last week at work was full of events. On Wednesday, I had the traditional “goodbye happy hour” at a local restaurant called Geezers. I had attended too many to count for people leaving the company and it was strange having one for me. I felt so honored that people took the time out of their night to stop by and say goodbye and have a drink. On Thursday, the Vice President at my company was retiring after 33 years of service. I had worked with her on several projects so I was very happy to be celebrating with her. There was a huge celebration that day with catered food in the courtyard. Then Friday came, my last day. My department had decorated my desk and brought in goodies to celebrate and wish me well. I still had to finish some projects at work but by that afternoon, I finally told my boss that I wouldn’t be able to finish some of it and it was unreasonable to think I’d actually do work on my last day (others who had a last day that day came in for a couple of hours to say goodbye and left). I was very stressed out trying to send out my goodbye email, saying goodbyes in person, eating delicious snacks, and trying to move electronic files over.

I still couldn’t process anything. It’s a weird feeling knowing you should be feeling something, but you just can’t. I was so busy trying to finish stuff and had dinner plans that evening. Plus I had less than a week to be out of my house and hadn’t even packed. I was happy at the thought of adventure and felt confident that’d I’d see these people again one day. Plus technology helps to stay in touch. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with the branch manager, Andy, that I started to feel it. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him for his intelligence and his character. He asked about my plans and we chatted about it. But then at the end he said, “Christy, you made such an impact here, not just in terms of your work, but you became part of this place. You became part of the people. Not many people do that. It will be noticeable when you leave.” I got chocked up and knew if I talked much, I’d start to cry. Those words meant so much to me and I will never forget them. I knew it was all starting to hit me.

I left work at 6pm (and had to go in the next morning for a few hours to clean out my desk). That evening I went out with some friends to the Standard in Los Angeles. We had a great time and I loved seeing the sun set on the city high-rises. The next few days were hectic to say the least. I had to be out of the house on Wednesday at 5:00pm. I had finally scheduled movers to come that morning but still didn’t even have a storage unit rented. Thankfully, I no longer had work so I spent the next few days renting a unit, dropping stuff off at Goodwill, and selling items on Facebook Marketplace. I barely slept for a few days. I kept waking up early, even though I would go to bed very late (around 2-3am). This was not like me (I normally struggle to wake up in the morning) so I knew I must be under more stress than I realized. In the process of doing all of this over a few days, I met a friend for tacos, had two friends over for dinner, had lunch with another friend, and had multiple doctor appointments.

Then the day came, moving day. I was up early to finish packing. The movers came and started to load up. The stressful thing about moving into storage is every item I picked up I had to ask myself, “Is this worth paying for storage? Do I need to bring it with me? Should I sell it? Should I donate it? Should I give it to a friend? Should I throw it away?” I plan on traveling for around a year so I needed winter and summer clothes. I didn’t want to buy these items again later (especially since I was now unemployed) but I was trying to travel light. For items I was planning to take with me, I just sort of throw it all together in various bags and suitcases. The movers didn’t finish unloading into storage (thankfully it all fit!) until around 3:30pm.

I was exhausted, sweaty, and dirty. I still had to clean my house so I asked my realtor if I could have until 7:00pm. The buyers only gave me until 6:30pm. I raced home and frantically cleaned the bathroom, vacuumed, and cleaned the counters. You know the end scene of Adventures in Babysitting where they have to clean the house and pretend nothing happened? That’s the scene at my house as I attempted to make the house presentable. I had the items I planned on taking with me in my car but too many items that I needed to sort through and either add to storage (like my vacuum) or simply empty, like all the food in two refrigerators. My realtor came over and loaded her car since my car was too full. As I finished cleaning up and emptying the refrigerators, I only had about two minutes to stop and say goodbye to my house.

At 6:25pm, a car pulled up and I was afraid it was the buyers and I didn’t want to see them. I got in my car and then saw their realtor walking up the driveway. I got out and he asked where the keys were so I showed him in the backyard. I was standing on the side of the house in between my car and the back gate. The realtor told me how exciting it was that I was going to travel. And all of a sudden, it hit me. I always knew it would hit me suddenly but I honestly thought it would be in a couple of weeks once everything had changed in my life. It didn’t just hit me, it punched me. My throat immediately had a knot in it and I was on the verge of crying. I didn’t want this realtor that I had just met to see me cry so I barely spoke. I told the realtor that I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to my house. I touched the side of my house with my palm and said “Goodbye house”.

I hurried off to my car because I could feel the tears coming. As I backed my car out of the driveway, tears starting flooding down my face. The pain in my chest was overwhelming. I looked at the front of my house as I backed up and instantly a flood of memories come flashing back to me. Happy memories of when my ex-husband and I bought the house and how happy he was to have a house to call our own. I saw the time he planted all the plants, cut the grass, put up the backsplash in the kitchen, and installed the bathroom fan. I had asked him to move out 2 years prior and I filed for divorce 6 months later. What surprised me is that I hadn’t thought about him very much over the last year. The first year apart (after 9.5 years of marriage) was an almost unbearable amount of pain, sadness, and grief. I thought I was finally doing better. When I did think about him, it was more about what lessons I could learn so I don’t repeat the same mistakes. But in that moment of pulling away from the house, it was nothing but happy memories. Memories of the life we had built together. Memories of having a partner. I thought I had come to terms with the fact that a house is just a house, it’s just a material thing. But the memories that were still tied to the house surprised me and hit me to my core. As I drove to my friend Valerie’s apartment to stay for a few days, the tears wouldn’t stop. That’s when I knew this was going to be a lot harder than I thought.

Posted Edited by: Misty Kosek