Monday, November 27, 2006

Maybe Not Moscow

Another week has brought another bit of strife, and it seems like I hit an all new low, emotionally speaking. So here's what's what.

Lindsay and I broke up about mid-October. We disagree as to the exact date it happened, but that's not important. What's important is that around the start of November, she met a guy and started dating.

I had thought that when we split up, we could see about getting back together after our lease ends in January. The stress of this relationship has been outstanding for much of the last year, and the concentration of living together only added to that stress. I hoped that not living together anymore, giving us a little distance, would make it possible that she and I could reconnect, gain back a little of what we lost. I don't suppose I ever told her this, or if I did, I didn't make it very clear.

What does this have to do with Moscow? You'll have to be patient. I have a lot to explain.
I started getting more and more jealous of this guy, more and more angry that Lindsay had turned around and found happiness so soon after she and I split. When I lost Lindsay, I still had my best friend, the one I hung out with every day, the one I confided in the most, the one who knew me best and knew all my thoughts (even after the break-up, yes). When she started seeing someone she disappeared from my life, and the loss was unbearable. So on Tuesday, I wrote her a letter telling her why I was so upset, and during it, I realized just how important she is to me.

I started re-thinking EVERYTHING that has happened in this last year. This entire year, anyone who talked to me for more than thirty seconds about my going to Moscow asked me why I was doing it. Sure, what a great opportunity, but what about everything I'd be giving up, most especially Lindsay? Everyone from close friends to mere acquaintances to Lindsay herself asked me this. I was determined, however, because I had a belief, and that belief was that I had to choose between Lindsay and a career.

But why, in my mind, did it have to be a choice? Why couldn't it be both? She's a make-up artist and I'm an actor, shouldn't those two careers compliment one another? These questions and more are answered in two parts.

Part the first: just before Lindsay and I got together in the first place, I had auditioned for graduate school. I tried a few different schools, but the best audition was for UCLA. The audition lasted an hour, and had over a dozen people in the room at the same time. We worked together both on our prepared monologues as well as some exercises with a coach while another man sat behind a table and watched, taking notes. Finally, the coach sent everyone else out of the room, thanking them for their time, and kept two of us behind for further work with the mysterious man behind the desk. It was absolutely thrilling.

The problem was that this was an "open" audition, which meant they let me in to audition without officially applying to the school. It was impressed upon the two of us who were asked to stay behind very strenuously that putting in the application was of utmost importance, and must be done immediately. When I got home, I printed the application, but to fill it out and send it in was just something I couldn't make myself do. The reasons why are many, but don't really belong in this rapidly lengthening story. The end result was that I believed UCLA would have allowed me into their graduate program if only I had sent in the paperwork. This is one of my most embarrassing secrets. I am refreshed that it is a secret no longer.

Part the second: a few months later, when Lindsay and I were together, I admitted to her and her alone what I had done. We talked about a lot, including relationships and what we'd given up for them in the past just to watch them fail later. Where does that leave us but alone, and working a job that has nothing to do with our dreams? Working a shitty job can be okay, I have discovered, if I have a relationship with someone to take away the pain and the stress. But when the relationship ends, now I'm heartbroken and I'm alone and I STILL have a shitty job because I never spent time working on getting myself OUT of the shitty job. We both expressed a desire to never again allow a relationship to stand between ourselves and our career choice. She understood my problem and my desire in this matter as I did hers.

So when I went to Moscow last year and they gave me an offer to go to their program, I was elated. I felt so horrible for the UCLA mistake that I felt this was the opportunity to redeem myself. The only trouble was that I couldn't expect Lindsay to come with me. The class schedule was too intense to take her that far from her home, her friends, her family, her culture, and everything else just to see me at night, after fifteen hours of class six days a week, ready to do nothing but crash. It seemed a sure recipe for disaster. I felt I had to make a choice.

I've only been in one long distance relationship, and it didn't work. It only lasted one school year, and we still saw one another once a month and talked every day. I didn't think it was possible for me to have a long distance relationship where I might come home only twice a year, nine time zones removed from the person I was trying to talk to, and the prospect terrified me. I was terrified to the point I couldn't connect with Lindsay, couldn't get close to her, couldn't let her get close to me. The only thing that calmed me down was the notion that we should break up when I go, to set one another free, perhaps to one day be back in the same place at the same time, and discover if our hearts still longed for one another then (romantic, isn't it?). But in the meantime, what fun we could have! Knowing for a fact that our time together was limited meant that she and I would enjoy every waking moment together, never taking one another for granted or missing an opportunity for happiness. With this notion, I was gung-ho and ready to go, comfortable at last and ready to be with her in earnest.

But with this decision, she and I traded places emotionally. Attempting to protect herself from a deeper hurt, she started pushing me away. Things got rough between us pretty quickly. Try as she might, she just couldn't let me in, and I felt her slipping farther and farther away. Try as I might, I couldn't do what she needed me to do to make things more comfortable between us. I did much for her to show her how much I loved and cared for her, but I didn't do the smaller, simpler things she asked me to do, the things that mattered to her most. So things between us only got worse.

When we broke up in October, she told me it was because she was too emotionally stressed out trying to make it work. Between the pressures of dealing with me and the pressures of managing a sports bar 60 hours a week, it was more than she could take, even though we now knew I wouldn't be leaving for an extra seven months. Shortly after the break-up the sports bar closed for business, and all the remaining reasons for her stress were lifted almost simultaneously. She started re-discovering herself, taking care of herself and her emotions and her friends, started becoming the happy person she hasn't been since before she and I even met. I started to fall for her again, seeing that happy person emerge from the ashes of the broken woman who told me she couldn't handle things anymore, and needed to get away and take care of herself. My heart surged for her, but I knew to be patient, to let the bad vibes between us wane before attempting a relationship again. Too soon would be a bad thing, I felt.
And now we begin to return to the beginning of the story.

As much as I hate that it's true, it took the deep pain and jealousy of learning all of this to make me realize exactly how special she was and is to me. I realized she meant too much to me to lose her. I finally began to see that she and the others I spoke to about going to Moscow were right; I can have a career right here at home and not lose her. Even if I do go, maintaining the relationship would still be possible—after all, I met two people who did it for four years while he was there and she was here (Lindsay and I would only have to do it for three), and now they're happily married. All the evidence that had been laid before me crystallized, and I knew what I had to do.

We talked Wednesday night, and I gave my best effort to get her back. I told her everything I had realized, from what I could do with my career without leaving to the mistakes I had made trying to make her happy in the wrong way. She heard every word, and said to me I told her absolutely everything she needed to hear.

Three months too late.

Thanksgiving Day was shitty. Praise God for friends and family (see previous blog).

Now I'm stuck in nepantla. I don't know whether I should go to Moscow for three years and get who knows what out of it, or if I should stay and get my career moving here and now. If I stay, I'm staying near my growing family (my new nephew will be born around February) and my dear friends, who keep showing me how much love they have for me when times are tough. I'll be able to work on Taekwondo and Tai Chi, two things that changed my life when I began to learn them, and two things I've had to give up just to prepare for Moscow.

So now what? I dunno what I'm gonna do, but I have a working plan. I'm going to spend the next couple of months trying to see what it would be like if I stayed. I'm going to get an agent (I have a contact in the field, and I believe this won't be difficult). I'm going to work on my voice-overs, something else I gave up because Russian lessons were too expensive to allow for it. I'm going to knock the dust off my gis and practice a bit of TKD and Tai Chi. I'm going to quit smoking and start jogging.

And I'm going to hope that Lindsay finds it in her heart to let me try again.

Come the first of February, I'll make the decision of whether I stay or go. That still leaves five months to buckle down and cram more language lessons into my head, and figure out how to come up with the money.

Stay tuned. God knows it's going to be intesting.

Furthermore, I want to make it clear that I have no anger or animosity against Lindsay. I understand why she has done everything she has done, and I understand why she has felt everything she has felt. I surely hate this situation, and I wish it was different, but I can't change any part of it. All I can do is react.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

With A Little Help From My Friends

It's been rough lately, and readers of my blog (quite aside from the ego boost I get when I see the number of views rise) know that I don't say much unless I have something unhappy to say. These last couple of months, I've said a lot. Up until this last week, things were as dark as they have been in years. Sunday night was quite a beast, even compared to the weeks leading up to it. But since that night, things have brightened significantly, and it's all due to my friends...

Since Monday night, I've learned a thing or three about the people who love me. Namely, when things get rough, there are people in my life who will go out of their way to make certain I'm gonna make it. When I was in my deepest, darkest, slimy pit, people in my life found me, gave me a hand, and pulled me out. This experience has also led me to remember the people who gave me advice before this past week, people who look out for me and want the best for me and are willing to devote their time, their attention, their words, and their hearts to the pursuit of my happiness.

I had started taking such a cynical view of life, started believing that there was one person and one person only who was looking after me, just one soul who had my best interests at heart, one person I could trust. That person was me and me alone. I was the only person I could count on to make certain I was getting along, the only one who could pull me out of darkness and into light. I was wrong.

Now I know without a doubt that I have friends—true, close, caring friends. Friends who don't rest without knowing that I'm gonna be okay, if only for one more day. Words don't express the relief and joy I feel because of this.

What's more—I still believe in love. It can be said that every relationship that ends is a failed relationship, but I don't agree. Things can work with someone for a long while, and though it may not last forever, they absolutely are capable of bringing happiness for any period of time before the final day, be it years, weeks, or even a few hours. Failure of a relationship to endure until "death do you part" is not necessarily a failed relationship.

I've been hurt, and I've hurt others. I've been engaged twice; once to the wrong person, and once at the wrong time in my life. I've been a cheater, and I've been cheated on. I've wept and I've raged at the hurt and unfairness of it all—it's a song I've sung many times. But one of the most important realizations I've made in this life o' mine is that even though I haven't had the fortune of finding the right woman at the right time, I still believe in the possibility. I haven't given up hope. Somewhere out there is the right woman for me, and I won't stop keeping an eye out for her, no matter how many times I burn myself reaching for the fire. There's always a fresh substance underneath the ashes.

Such is the power of hope.

Through it all, my heart still beats, and it beats for thee, my love—wherever you are.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Quite A Week

Interesting, the things that happen in a weeks' time.

Wednesday, Lindsay and I broke up. We were preparing to do so anyway, and with the extra time I'm spending here, we had a decision to make. Without going into all the details, we decided to break up now. Connecting with one another was just too difficult when we were preparing to end it. I guess this way, we ended it on our own terms. It's not like we don't like one another. There weren't fights or even arguments (not the relationship-shattering kind). It just wasn't working out, and we decided to end it before we really did start to resent one another. Though we still live together for a few more months, so maybe there's still time for a Jerry Springer episode's worth of material.

Saturday night I got a sinus infection. Doctors are expensive.

Wednesday, Lindsay lost her job because the restaurant she was managing went out of business. Since I'm having financial troubles anyway, and I didn't know how soon Lindsay would be able to get a job, and because I convinced Lindsay just a week earlier to clean out half her savings to pay off a credit card, I stopped taking Russian lessons and started looking for a second job. I have an interview to schedule, which is good news. I don't know whether I'll keep my current job, or how long I'll be able to work two jobs, or how much my Russian is going to suffer for the fact that I'm not taking classes with another human being. I do plan to get back into class, but for now, it's just not possible.

Then I broke my mp3 player while trying to upgrade the firmware.

Then I tried to post this blog, and somehow screwed up my internet connection for a few days.

I promise to post good news and happy thoughts as soon as they occur. Stay tuned.