On Change, Moving, and Love

The following writing may be saccharine and sentimental. Be patient.

I’m a lover of polarity, opposition, and contradiction. I always say that the late fall is my favorite time of year, enjoying the coziness inherent in the growing chill, the desire to bundle up and nest with a pumpkin pie in the oven. To be close to others and even closer with yourself, reading and reflecting, cuddling and feeling loved.

But I revel in the summer’s charm as well, energized by the interactions at farmers’ markets, the ease of throwing on a different dress, day after day. I love the simple food that gains its center during these months, the streamlined assembly of ingredients purchased an hour before, harvested only that morning. I love too, the dinners where one is left to linger at the table, outside with friends and others, gathered long after the evening’s meal. I may love that most of all.

This conflict exists as well in my simultaneous desire for stability and hunger for continual change. I love knowing what will come, how to plan ahead for what will be next. It’s a relief from anxiety, an escape from the possibility of failure.

But I love, too, the grand shifts and excitement of change. I love new settings and new people, the possibilities of new ideas. The potential of a new me.

When I think about this in conjunction with love, I think how only the former condition, a state of stability and balance, promotes the structure of a relationship, the consistency of place and of mindset supporting the growth of love. It seems then, that with my competing penchant for change, that love can’t satisfy or exist between such divided needs. The failure of my relationships has always come as a result of my moving, of my leaving, of my decision that inertia and stagnancy are worse fates than saying goodbye.

With this, I’ve come to believe that I’m better off a single person, dependent upon no one and with no one dependent upon me. My aversion to promises arises from their built-in association with expectancy. If I’m alone, there’s no one to disappoint but myself.

No, I’m not a recluse. I love people; I love spending time with them and learning from them. But keeping these connections at a level that’s tempered by distance, you free yourself from expectation, dismissing the possibility of disappointment. Coming to the conclusion that a relationship couldn’t exist divided between the opposition of stability and change, I rejected it as something that wasn’t supposed to exist for me.

But I thought about it more, realizing that if fate is a reality and that events align with purpose and with reason, then there will be another person who wants both stability and change and who wants it with you. And when you find that person, you have to let them, erasing fear of vulnerability and wiping out any panic that comes with constructing your life with another person. You have to trust that this can make you happy, believing in the possibility that love doesn’t dismiss your individuality, but instead allows you to grow in the context of another person, changing with their support and taking comfort in the promise of their stability.

As an aside, I'll be moving to Portland, Oregon in a few weeks. It’s a move born from several things: A love of the city and a longstanding desire to live there, as well as my deep-rooted love of packing up my life and beginning again. As I’ve written about before, I’m terrible at transitions, worried that the unknown presents itself as a void, sucking up possibility and destroying potential. But moving helps, implying initiative and action in determining your life and constructing the future. I’m excited to be in a place where my values appear matched, where slowing down can still be coupled with creative pursuit and attainment. Aesthetics are emphasized, with people building careers around their dedication to beauty and to art. This seems the perfect place to pursue a professional life blended with personal curiosity and intrigue.

Contrasting this to the naivety with which I began my year in Paris, I’m not blindly naming Portland the concentration of all beauty and happiness. I see it as a challenge, as a test of what I can do, what I can give, and who I can be. This move will be different, not an escape, but an exploration further into what I offer to others, the certain, special output I give to the world.