Waking up to rain at the BikeHaus always gives me the illusion that someone’s taking a shower. The water streams off the gutters onto the sidewalk two stories below in a way that mimics the gentle sound of water from the shower head hitting the bottom of the tub, cleaning and cleansing a body as it falls.
This morning I reflected a lot on my past domestic relationship. It came up last night, as a friend excitedly told me she and her boyfriend have been discussing moving in together, and it came up this weekend, as I spent Sunday afternoon catching up with my ex, with whom I shared a cozy little apartment for most of a year. I smiled a comfortable smile and felt at ease; he sat with me as I finished an unexpectedly strong beer, and we talked about our families, friends, work, our lives.
In our typical way, I checked out a BikeChattanooga rental and we pedaled across the bridge under a glowing sunset. He’d mentioned sharing a bottle of bubbly, but I declined. I parked the bike at the nearest station to our old house. He rode ahead and I walked through my old neighborhood, taking in the giant trees and the way the lights shined on the houses. It’s a beautiful neighborhood, tucked away right off Central.
As I walked, I thought back to a year ago when I used to ride home from doing kettlebells at the gym on dark fall and winter nights. I would pedal so slowly, typically on Heavy Helen, my three-speed pink Schwinn (I miss riding that bike…), slow enough to gaze in the windows and catch a glimpse of Christmas decorations and lights. The canopy of bare-limbed trees overhead made me feel safe, if only for a block or three, from the speeding cars and threats still within earshot.
I snapped a few photos with my phone, remembering how I used to love the contrast of grimy streets and powerlines against a beautiful sunset, especially this time of year. It’s something I don’t experience as much living up on the hill on a street that’s quiet compared to the sound of ambulance sirens, “my LifeFlight boyfriends” flying overhead (as I used to joke), and the ever-present rumbling of the train yard on Central. It’s just different. I’m different.
What I shared with my girlfriend last night about my live-in experience was not what didn’t work about my past relationship or the house or the chores, or any of the surface-level stuff, which in fact worked out quite harmoniously—our styles and habits seemed to blend seamlessly. Rather, I shared with her the parts of me, my brain, my psyche, my attitude and actions that weren’t ready to open up to a working partnership. The communication, self awareness, honesty and openness weren’t in line for me at the time. I don’t think I was quite ready for that.
After she and I had coffee last night, I pedaled home up still-wet streets to the BikeHaus, taking a new route. The air felt wonderful, and a smile graced my face as I saw lights on in our home, Cortney and Corbin moving around in the kitchen preparing dinner.
Here I am now, in my own house, in a different “partnership” you might say, with a housemate, not a partner, in my own neighborhood, listening to what sounds like someone in the shower as I drink tea and contemplate a year of change.
Last night Katie mused that maybe I’m too hard on myself for reopening all of these doors of my past experiences, analyzing and revisiting each one, reflecting and soaking in how I may have been at that time and consciously applying those lessons to where I am now. Maybe, yes, but I’ve always been self reflective. Now, I’m just more apt to write about it and share.