It's Thanksgiving tomorrow. Today, I drove from Driggs to Salt Lake City, where I'll spend the long weekend with family. Throughout the rainy, 4.5-hour road trip, my recurring thought was simply: wow, I'm glad it's this Thanksgiving and not last. This year and not last year. This "place," and not wherever I was then.
I've kept the content of my blog somewhat superficial lately, mainly because I haven't known how to publicly communicate all the major changes I've experienced. Plus I'm polite to a fault, and haven't wanted to offend or hang anyone out to dry. But it's time to put it out there, from my own perspective. I'll throw in some recent scenic Driggs and Teton Valley Idaho photos, but this post will essentially be an introspective rant of sorts. After all, I've been maintaining this blog for five years now; it's my platform to fill how I see fit, and I owe you honesty as readers. So grab some turkey and maybe even a little Brandy, and settle in.
Headline: I was married to Joanne for 18 years, but went through a bumpy (are they ever smooth?) divorce this past spring. I have new respect for all of you who have endured this yourselves. It's brutal, and we didn't even have kids.
In spite of the underlying love, it didn't end well (do they ever?). I should have handled it better, and I'm dealing with that. But I've also tried to maintain some dignity, and grant others the same. We all have problems, and don't need to live each others' drama. It serves no purpose. Joanne has felt otherwise, spending unfathomable amounts of energy selling her "story" to anyone who will listen - including my own family - trying to absolve herself of responsibility, and involving people way beyond propriety in an attempt to undermine me and gain sympathy. But it's always a two-way street. So be it; ultimately, we can only move forward. I still care about her and wish her well.
(eat some turkey, drink some brandy)
There was some mid-life crisis involved, no doubt. Three years ago I sold the business (R.U. Outside) that I founded and ran for 18 years. The timing was less than ideal, but Joanne's real estate sales were crashing and I needed more steady income with less risk. R.U. Outside had become part of my identity, and suddenly wasn't anymore. It was a major adjustment, to say the least. As part of that whole process, I was hired by Canadian-based Baffin to turn their website into a retail vehicle while also opening a flagship store for them in Park City, Utah. They covered the cost of a condo for me, and we planned to go back-and-forth to Driggs to make it all work. I was excited for a new chapter with a larger company.
I went back to Driggs once or twice a month. Joanne came to Park City once every two or three months. It was a difficult chapter, and we grew apart.
(more turkey & brandy)
Change is hard. Really hard. Especially when you've been with someone for over twenty years, and your identities have become intertwined, inexorably. You do the same things, eat mostly the same food, know the same people, have the same memories, share the pain and love. Parting ways is going to be trying, whether amicable or not. And it's difficult for those around you to adjust as well, especially in a small community. I've definitely learned who my true friends are (thank you), and aren't (oh well). My brother Mark, parents, cousin Brent, and buddies Joe, Mike, Tom, Eric & Tim have been lifesavers.
We're not the same people at age 45 that we were at age 25. We change and evolve, as we should. Those around us do too, but sometimes not at the same pace or in the same ways. 5% of marriages last for 50 years or more...the rest don't. It's not wrong or right, it just is.
I moved out last November. We went to couseling all winter, which revealed a lot about us both personally and as a couple. Our marriage was often good, but we couldn't mountain bike our way to the "great" stage. I had wanted kids; she didn't. I had wanted a small cozy house; she wanted grandiouse. She got her way, and there was no negotiating. Eventually, I stopped feeling like I was married. Our primary issues were respect, control, putting each other first, and getting on the same page financially. We didn't get there.
I'm now living alone in a nice little home in Ski Hill Ranches, between the towns of Driggs, Idaho and Alta, Wyoming. I look up at the slopes of Grand Targhee, watch the sun rise over the Tetons every morning, and have 360-degree views of the most beautiful valley I've ever seen, which I'm fortunate enough to call home. I've taken up fishing again, and have also done a lot of solo bike rides this year, rich with thought. I have a great job, working with solid people internally plus salt-of-the-earth customers from Driggs to Boise.
(time for pumpkin pie)
I'm also seeing an amazing gal now, who compliments me and makes me feel like a man on every level. Melissa tells me I'm great, loves kids, cooks, rubs my feet...and also challenges the hell out of me. She's a fellow lefty, writer, and triathlete. I love taking care of her, and we connect without agendas. After a year of emotional pain like I've never experienced before, life is finally feeling good.
If all this change in my life is unsettling to you, whomever and wherever you are, I'm sorry. But I'm the one walking in my shoes, and I'm done worrying about the comfort level of others regarding my personal situation. It's a new chapter. Put your own issues aside, see that I'm happy, and accept change. I'll do the same for you.
As Democritus said back in the fifth century, "happiness dwells in the soul." May we all let it shine.