I got on the train to Potsdam this morning, and didn’t know whether I should read my book, or look out the window at the fresh snow falling. People say around there that it snows seven times each winter. Depending on what really counts as a snowfall, there may only be three left. The train takes not quite twenty minutes from Bahnhof Zoo to Potsdam. After several minutes of wintry scenery, I turned to my book, The Power of Place. This phrase rang with strong resonance in my head as I read it “…the familiar turf and rich network of slowly fostered relationships…”
I have made up my mind, and plan to leave here at the end of April. It is clear to me that I gave up too much in choosing to come here to try to make a life with Mauricio. Though I am not sad to have made that initail choice, I understand now that familiar turf and a rich network of slowly fostered relationships are even more important to me than I had realized. I feel very isolated here, and unhappy. Frequently mildly depressed. Things with Mauricio are not bad but they are not exceptional, they are at best OK. So rather than stay and endure, I plan to go home and thrive. I grieve the loss of this dream, and am grateful for the lesson learned.
This has been a while in coming, and in the process of becoming clear to me, my thoughts have driven me to many misleading conclusions. The first place I went, (forgive me, those of you with whom I shared this earlier for not claiming my personal responsiblity), is that something was wrong with Mauricio. I thought it was his fault. That somehow I was let down by him, or he had changed, or was too shut down or whatever. I wanted badly to put the blame somewhere other than on me. So, I put it on him, and tried to figure out if he could be fixed.
Then, being a bit more generous, I put the blame on our relationship. There, maybe I shared some of the blame, but clearly could not be responsible for all of this situation. I felt the relationship was not giving me what I needed, and this was responsible for things here not working out.
Then, I discovered I could try to put some of the blame on the cold northern Europeans who surround me, for being very reserved and hard to get to know. For what destination did I think I bought a plane ticket before I left on this experiment?
Ultimately, there is truth in all of the above, and there is not. Finally my thoughts drove me to me, where I need to be to understand all of this. What really matters is, I am the master of, and have to claim complete responsibility for, my life. Stop looking for some other place to put the responsibility.
That means: I took a chance, I decided, with Mauricio, to try to come here to build a life together. I realize now, six months into being here, that this is not what I want. I am not happy. It is hard to live without the familiar turf and a rich network of slowly fostered relationships that I have in Minneapolis, too hard. I do not want to continue to live without this, and so I will return to Minneapolis. Could I someday have that here? Clearly I could, but only after a long time. Longer than I am willing to wait. A friend asked if I had not realized it would take years to feel connected here, as it has for her. I knew that intellectually, but not emotionally. I did not know how hard this would seem. I find a resonance with the protagonist in Michael Sommer’s telling of Faust, when he decides in the end, that what he wants in the bargain of life, is that which he already knows best.
And what about my responsibility to Mauricio? I think it will be for the best that we part ways. I choose to stay until April for very pragmatic reasons: we have a sublease until then, which melds with a timeframe which will allow me to leave the place I work, without leaving them in a stitch. More importantly, this will give Mauricio time to prepare himself for my departure. He wants to try to stay but, on the other hand, he is still figuring out how to try to get his HIV meds here from Brazil. If he doesn't solve that soon he may be back in Brazil within a month. There are no guarantees when you live life as an experiment.
The snow has stopped falling, and the day is grey, but a much brighter grey than usual, with the snow covered earth.