In my current incarnation as a professional bum I find myself in Eugene, OR, pondering the question, do I want to live here? But I can't ask myself that question in earnest. To do so would invite possibly the most intense existential crisis I have ever faced. You see, the question I'm really asking myself is this: Would a life here be compelling enough to take me away from Willow?
I've been planning this exploration for a year and a half. And over that time I have very, very gradually faced more and more the possibility of living away from my son. I got an email from Pax the other day including stuff about Willow's activities and Pax's thoughts on parenting-from-afar. Ouch - am I having a heart attack? Metaphorically perhaps. I believe that my bond with Willow is strong enough that I can maintain it long-distance. But it won't be the same, that's what hit me. Nothing can replace daily contact with a child. There is so much I would miss out on... (deep breath)
I have to believe he would be fine. Certainly, because of the bond we share there is something he would miss from my absence. But with Pax, Hawina, all his primaries, Jonah and Gwen, and the full, rich, engaging life a child has at Twin Oaks, he'll be fine. I have no doubts about him getting all the love and attention he needs to continue developing as the amazing being he is. It's not him I'm worried about, it's me.
If I tried to "figure out" whether or not I want to move away from Twin Oaks I would very quickly go insane. It's simply too soon to know. I've given myself till the end of next spring, with plenty of time away exploring and back at Twin Oaks. That's when I'll have to face it, probably by June. It's months away, but the time will pass so quickly.
I have yet to discuss the matter with Willow. I've been avoiding it - it's just been too painful. But I will, soon. I honestly can not imagine what he will say. I can see him being upset. I can see him being indifferent. I can see ambivilence. I can see philosophical acceptance. He never ceases to amaze me.
I see so much of myself in him. He's such a smart kid - many things come easily to him. So if something isn't immediatly fun and easy, he doesn't want to bother and can be totally lazy. When he's sick he's very calm and accepting - only in major pain does he get distressed. But he's very fearful of putting himself in situations that may result in physical pain. Generally speaking, he can be pretty fearful, a wimp so to speak. I was a total wimp (and kinda still am.) And he can be pretty insecure and anxious, not wanting to be alone, not wanting to push himself out of his comfort zone, easiy thinking he can't do something - all things I've struggled with.
I have a hard time with it sometimes. I know it's just because I have a hard time seeing those aspects of myself. I try not to give him a hard time, but it just comes out sometimes. I don't want him to have to struggle with that shit. But it doesn't help, and it feels terrible. It's just that I love him so much.
Every time something happens that's hard for him I just have to take a deep breath and say to myself, "it's just part of being human - we all have to deal with stuff - this is just what he has to deal with - if it wasn't this it would be something else." And really, it's in being with him through the hard stuff, staying centered and present myself and helping him deal with it and understand it, that's where some of the most satisfying experiences have come from. Every new experience is such a big deal - after 5.5 years we've been through so much. Can I really leave him?
I wonder if it's just my ego attachment, my desire to influence this child, mold him in my image. Or maybe it's my need to prove my worth as a human being by being a good parent. Maybe I can just move beyond all that... yeah, right.
I think about him sitting on my lap as we play Civilization together. I think about doing reading practice, struggling through it at times, but then finishing a new, challenging book and seeing the look of satisfaction on his face. I think about walking down the path with him on my back, holding each other close. I think about reading out loud to him, cuddled up together on the couch. I think about waking up with him in the morning, holding him as his eyelids flutter open. No lover, no adult partner has ever had such a firm grip on my heart.
It's as if, over the years, I have given him a piece of myself, but that piece still exists in myself as well as in him, with a cord to link them. Imagining leaving him, not living with him day-to-day, it feels like that part of me is being torn out. It never actually would be, but damn, it hurts.