I can’t adequately describe the excitement I feel when I run into an old friend at the grocery store, the parent of a kid I coached at the coffeeshop. It took me years to understand that not everyone has that reaction; it took me years to realize that community isn’t everyone else’s lifeblood.
But it’s always been my lifeblood.
The biggest achievements in my life – my friendships, my career path, coaching coups – are not blips that popped up on a radar out of nowhere. Each is an intricate, sticky spiderweb full of life-long relationships, almost-missed connections, out-of-the-blue text messages and friends-of-friends-of-friends-who-thought-of-me-who-thought-of-you.
And so, when one of those almost-missed connections, a friend of a friend, became my boyfriend almost overnight, it made perfect sense to me. Though I was inclined to take it slow, both my heart and head immediately saw him for who he was - a potential partner.
The problem was that he lived a plane ride away, and that’s where he had to stay. My life – my stable life, the community that had surrounded me for decades – would have to bottom out in order for him to fit in. The weight of the next questions nearly crushed me.
How can I leave all this behind?
And most importantly.
Who am I if I'm not here?
The answer, of course, is me. I'm not merely a pixelated composition of the people, places and experiences that have come so far. Those are all a part of me.
But I'm also the brazen liberal biproduct of two apolitical parents, the dancer in the midst of athlete brothers, the girl who once forced a group of rugby players to talk about domestic violence in the back of a crowded Wisconsin college bar.
In two weeks, I leave behind Minnesota. And context.
I'm scared of what comes next, of course, but I'm relieved that I get to bring myself with me when I go.
Because, as it turns out, I have created my community, I was not created by it.