Watching Alice pull away made me sad but it also gave me the itch to get moving myself. There was no longer a reason to stay in Austin…or was there…?
I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not to share this with you. One could argue that my love life is none of your business. But really, nothing about my life is your business, I choose to share it with you. In a world full of half truths, misleading images and facades, I want my story to be a refreshing dose of the cold hard truth. Anyone who knows me, could tell you that the “cold hard truth” is kinda my specialty, so in a way, there was probably no avoiding it. Another reason for letting you into my love life is to provide some relief. Society has done a fantastic job of drilling in a cookie cutter image of what our romantic relationships should look like and if they don’t look like that, we feel like there’s something wrong with us. Or we might throw away something great because it’s not meeting those impossible to meet make believe standards. If you’re like me in any way, romantic relationships might be extra, crazy hard. I spent a long time wondering why my love life didn’t just fall into a neat little package. Why it never seemed to look like anyone else’s. I finally came to realize that I am different, have been my whole life, why would I expect my relationships to be conventional? I am strong willed, stubborn, opinionated, independent and introverted to boot. All makings for complicated partnering if you ask me. So in the spirit of total transparency and with hopes that you feel reassured by my far from perfect love life, let me introduce you to Jeffrey! The man I messily love.
Jeffrey and I had been together for a year, broke up for a year and had semi-recently come back together again before I left. Mander complicated an already complicated relationship but the one thing we knew for sure, is that we loved each other. So we said teary goodbyes and comforted ourselves with plans for him to visit me on the road. And that is just what was about to happen! That itch I had to leave Austin would just have to wait to be scratched. If Jeffrey was willing to get on a plane to come see me, I was more than willing to hang out in Austin a little longer. We had talked a lot about whether this sort of life would be attractive to him or not, so I was super excited to not only see him, but also for him to get a taste of Manderland. We made plans to poke around the city for a couple days and then have a proper Mander adventure to Inks State Park.
Jeffrey arrived in Austin and my awesome new friend, Erica, let me use her car to pick him up at the airport. I swooped him up and got some long overdue hugs and kisses. We went to Mander, dropped of his luggage and headed to one of my favorite Austin discoveries, Juiceland.
While I’ve been traveling around I often think, “Oh Jeffrey would like this.” or “I wish Jeffrey was here to see this!” It was awesome to now be able to share some of those places with him. After a few days of showing him around Austin, we were ready to to see a new place together.
Not too far out of Austin and into the hill country part of Texas, is Inks State Park. It was cool to see yet another different looking landscape in the same, giant state. We reserved a campsite in the park and filled our days with hikes. It was so fun to have a hiking buddy! I loved that he hikes the same way as I do; with a sense of wonder. In no hurry, stopping to look at the details and inspect various eye catching things. I usually feel rushed when I hike with other people, and that I can’t stop to take pictures for too long or I will annoy the other person. Not with Jeffrey! We had picnics, goofed around, looked at rocks and cacti up close and dilly dallied until our hearts content.
We spent one week together, exploring, loving on each other and fighting. Yes, we fought. We were around each other 24/7 in a tiny space. It was bound to happen. But the truth is, we kinda fight a lot. Both of us are often pushed to the brink from this but it still hasn’t destroyed our love. Probably anyone that has seen our relationship from the outside, wouldn’t understand why we are even trying. We don’t even live in the same state anymore! I won’t speak for him, but here’s my take on it. We fight a lot because we unintentionally poke each other’s wounds. We poke each other’s wounds because we are each other’s teachers.
“Hey, you haven’t healed this part yet, see? *Poke *Poke.”
“Ouch! That hurts! You big meanie!”
Let the fighting commence.
We have an insanely deep connection that I haven’t felt before, which is maybe why the pokes are so precise. Our souls are coming together and getting down to business when it comes to their evolution. No time to mess around! Despite all our fighting, at the end of the day, we love each other unconditionally. He supported me to go after my dream, even though it meant leaving him. I support him in following his dreams, even though it may mean not being with me. In my opinion, that is how you truly love. We are invested in each others growth and happiness. There’s a weird peacefulness I have about my love for him. I didn’t come upon it easily. It has been painful and filled with heartache but I’ve come to realize that the love we share is beyond my ego/physical self. It’s just there. It’s imprinted on my soul. I’ve probably carried it with me for many lifetimes. Even if I don’t get to have it logistically close to me, it isn’t going anywhere. Neither of us are sure how things are going to pan out but if Mander has taught me anything, is that it’s best to take things one day at a time, there’s a whole heck of a lot you can’t control and that having hope and faith can make a world of difference.
So how’s that for an unconventional love story? One that may not end in happily ever after. Or not the happily ever after you’re used to seeing anyway. What I hope you take away from me sharing this with you is this. There is no one size fits all to life and love. So don’t let people tell you how to live your life, or how to love. Don’t let other people’s reality’s define yours. You are the only you and your life should reflect that. Let your love be as messy as it needs to be. The most important thing, is that you love. Love hard.
Please consider donating to my Gas Money Pool on Paypal by clicking here. Any donation goes straight into Mander’s tank. At 6 mpg it sure costs a lot to keep the old girl on the road. But with your help, I can continue to collect stories and take pictures to share with you on my blog and Instagram. Thank you for being a part of my journey!
You can also support me by shopping my vintage clothes collection, Freedom to Roam. These clothes are found at various thrift stores across the U.S. and purchases help keep me roaming!
Until next time, much love and Mander on!