Continued from Part 1…
The next five months would be a deep plunge into relationship, love, growth, travel, and learning to live with a partner in a new city. I have actively avoided California my whole life. Something about the big energy, the cost, the startups, and the endless activity always put me off. Now I landed right in the middle of it all. The Presido home we began our life in was beyond a dream for SF. A three bedroom Victorian with a garden in the back yard and nature walks around the corner would be our love nest for two and a half months. I was assured that I was being spoiled rotten with this much empty space, but it really provided us a nest in which to explore our new relationship, love, and living together. This house had been a long time coming manifestation for Ayna, and I was super grateful for this gift.
Long talks on the couch, cooking in our large kitchen, slow showers, meditation, walks, massage, pre-sleep naps, and falling asleep every night curled up in the safety of each others embrace were our daily norm. It was wild and unconventional to meet someone and jump into living full on with them. We managed extremely well for our level of intensity and deep inner work happening. Communication was extremely important and necessary to manage our triggers. Ultimately we were preparing for the next step which came in September with The Path Of Love.
Ayna would be participating for the first time in this full on, one week deep exploration into who you are and what stands in the way of your freedom. It would be my second time participating, but my 6th for staffing. We would both be working on ourselves for a week, not communicating with each other, except for longing eye contact, and hoping to find more freedom and come closer together in our relating.
I ended up working on stepping into my Man. To put down my child as the leader of my life experience and find the Man who has been there, but holding back on stepping forward. Everyone in my group was able to easily see both aspects living side by side where I could not. I had a lot of trouble allowing everyone to help me; always wanting to do it all on my own. That became a big key for trust during the week and the support was beautiful.
We followed the rules pretty well, but enjoyed some conversation sneakily during meals, and once we both soaked in the hot tub after a long day. Once reunited, we had a lot to talk about, but also a lot of issues melted after that week. Taking responsibility is a key factor and when the other stops being the issue, you can take responsibility for how you feel. Our relating deepened and our work continued to grow. I would soon be reflected with some issues I had never investigated, but I think everyone faces in relationship.
What does it mean to give a partner space? Some issue has come up and there is tension in the air. My normal response would be to check in, to comfort, connect, and communicate until the issue is resolved. Sometimes the other wants to chew on it, take time, and even withdraw a bit to accomplish the inner work and that can be triggering to someone who wants to resolve it now or fix it. I need positive reinforcement feedback. If I try to connect and feel the other doesn’t perk up and pay attention, then well, you must hate me and I’ve done something terrible. Obviously the truth is that your partners withdrawal has nothing to do with you and this is the insecure voice telling you that you are the reason your partner is withdrawn. Like many others I learned, to give space when the other isn’t ready to open up, is to physically give space by leaving the area and tiptoe around till they feel better. However this type of action can be seen as pulling back, withholding love, or changing who you are for the other because you yourself have an insecurity about how your partner handles their inner work and issues.
It’s part unconscious, but this pattern was pointed out easily with a simple question. If you were dealing with something internal, how would you want me, your partner, to treat you? This question produced an immediate and simple answer. To treat me the same as always and just love me through it despite your own insecurities in the moment. This transformed me into being more present to my own insecure issues of needing security from my partner when they are actually processing something and just showing up with love until they are ready to share.
Life went on in our magical SF world, but our love nest came to an end. We moved houses to cat sit for a lovely fur ball who can see ghosts, named pichi (peachy). We had some more difficulties in this new space as it wasn’t our love nest, but someone else’s home. Never underestimate the power your energy has on a space. We did our best and loved our little fur child very much, but we struggled as I continued to be lost in my purpose. I worked each day on the computer for my fathers company which continued to drain me, fighting every moment with my inner calling and my familial duties. I managed a walk to see the bay on most days and that was a welcome respite. I felt the pull to get out of the USA and start my normal travels. The energy was building.
When our cat sitting was finished we took two weeks off to travel the pacific northwest on a kind of scenic vegan food tour. Mount Shasta was the first stop with some hiking, yummy food, fantastic energy, and a special sound healing with my friend Jamie Lu. Shasta was a beautiful first step and the energy there felt like home. I could have stayed much longer with our adorable BnB hosts. Portland came next and while we struggled a bit with our cold and damp accommodations, we enjoyed the city. We totally over ate, sometimes fitting in extra meals just to try out special places. Our favorite though was Common Ground. A communal bathhouse were we got to soak away our troubles under the blue skies with naked people all around. We even went twice as Ayna and I love to soak, and is a passion I’m glad we both share.
We perused Powell’s books and visited the rose garden, but it was the food that made the city for us. Vegan heaven as Ayna said. Specialty vegan cheese shops and breakfast biscuits were our special delights. Plus we found an amazing chai made with oat milk that satisfied my Indian taste buds and turned me on to oat milk.
Seattle by way of Bainbridge island was the next destination. We toured the Grand Forest with its magical green moss, and walked the labyrinth. Crossing back on the ferry we headed over to have a special chefs tasting at Harvest Beet. There was too much food, but also everything was pretty amazing. This was our celebration for Thanksgiving which would be the following day. Now since we weren’t especially celebrating this holiday, we didn’t think the whole city would be shut down. After our vegan extravaganza, we were so disappointed in the offerings on hand and even whole foods wasn’t very vegan friendly for holiday foods. This stirred in me so many old memories and longings from Thanksgivings past that I was in a melancholy mood most of the day missing my dad. It also happened to be his birthday.
We were supposed to have been celebrating in Japan for his special 70th birthday. I was going to deliver his surprise gift of the book I wrote him and I had some expectations that it was going to be a good experience. Instead I had a scotch to toast his memory and read to Ayna the first chapter of the book. It was rainy outside and we at least managed to find some pretty good ramen for dinner. It was a sad holiday in many ways, as I was really missing family and the big jovial party that Thanksgiving can be. It was because of this however that I decided that Christmas would be fully celebrated.
We stopped to visit my good friend Kimberli in Bellingham on the way to Vancouver. Catching up after some years over many cups of tea. Ayna’s old childhood friend also was able to join us from Seattle and the four of us spent hours reconnecting. Crossing the border was actually pretty simple and we were grateful. Our digs in Vancouver were as awesome as seen in the photographs. This city would prove to be an amazing place, even with the rain, and a food city worth many more tastings. We had so many friends in the city we didn’t even realize and manged a few dinners together. This city is certainly on the map for possible living places.
I had a breakdown however. In my continued work on boundaries and feeling too much, something overwhelmed me. I felt drained and lost and ready to just hand myself over to God and die. Its a state of being that I am not well accustomed to nor like particularly. My mind frantically searching for the answer because I cannot understand strong emotion like this. Its so foreign to me, to be completely sucked into helplessness. I was trying everything to fix myself, I called in others to support me, and I tried to lean heavily on Ayna which would cause its own difficulties. I spent a whole day lost in bed, feeling miserable for myself, feeling like my world was going to end. Samantha helped me get back on my feet in the end. Ayna and I had a deep and strong conversation that also helped move some energy. When I woke the next day, I was again moving in a better direction, but once again realizing that the transformation process can be difficult. (In March 2019 I undergo a workshop and discover whats at the heart of this breakdown which is applicable to everyone and will cover in detail later)
I lose myself in my partners. Its part of my psychological conditioning. My core issue is that I lose a sense of my Self and then fill it with the strongest person around. That was my father, and now its my partner. This creates a problem immediately depending on how much power I am giving away. Ayna, and all women I suspect, want a partner that is strong and secure in themselves. When I lose my sense of self, if I try to latch onto my partner and find my definition there, she feels this power suck and its terribly icky for her. Making your partner the source of your self love and solid ground doesn’t work well practically or energetically. Coming back to myself which is the correct response for my own conditioning, is to recover my lost power and reform my sense of identity. I am here with myself, now and always. This is the spiritual lesson for me personally. It also gives me a sense of being here and then able to be present for my partner. I believe this was a major component to our difficulties during the last months as my internal identity was in crisis having lost my father, who was my core person to whom I always returned to find my stability and identity. Transformation can be rough, but through those hard days, I was able to quickly and effectively build a stronger sense of my own adult self and step forward as my own person.
We headed all the way down to Cannon Beach where I had located the most special cabin, overlooking the ocean, with a wood burning fireplace. This magical cabin would be the site for Ayna’s 33rd birthday. Having mostly recovered my energy and mood, we were able to really enjoy the atmosphere of crashing waves, star lit nights, and once I managed to get the fire going, with some creative ways to light wood, we snuggled into the peace of home. We fluctuate often when there is resistance moving inside us. One moment all is perfectly well, another its all crashing down. To enjoy when you can enjoy and to learn how to enjoy all the rest when its difficult is one of the best keys to life I know. Our troubles weren’t over, but we were able to enjoy a lot. After waking beautifully, we went back to Portland for a very special day of soaking at common ground, enjoying lunch and tea and a friend of mine, and then the highlight was the 14 person, seven course tasting menu at Farm Spirit. Of all the good food we had, this one was the most inspiring, the most creative, and the most technical. It was like going to a top New York restaurant and being bewildered at how they created such flavors and textures. Here however, they answered every question I had, and more often than not, the answer was very simple. Simple good food, sourced from within 100 miles of the restaurant. The flavors shown through, because they were mostly just the vegetables themselves, turned with expert skill into a variety of textures and dishes.
Sad to leave our most recent love nest, the journey continued down beautiful highway 101, through majestically rich redwoods, and along breathtaking coastal views. We were heading to Stanford Inn, the famous vegan inn in Mendocino. The digs were beautiful with fire places in each room, along with Christmas trees filling the main welcome and sitting room. The pool area was a bit dated, but still charming in a way. Truly looking forward to a wonderful meal at their restaurant, we were highly disappointed. The staff seemed to be made of under trained high school staff, and the food was lacking flavor, complexity, and plating. Its like they had an off day or something we thought. When this was repeated at breakfast, and high tea, we figured out that the world had stepped up its game for vegans and Stanford Inn was left sadly far far behind.
Exploring the little town of Mendocino was quaint. We strolled along the coast and got promptly rained on, but a few rainbows graced our skies after. Shopping in small town shops and art galleries, we spent the rest of our day meandering the streets and thinking about living the slow coastal life. We located two vegan options for dinner and our choice turned out to be fantastic. Our trip almost complete, there was some tension in the air, things still not settled and both of us feeling it. Frustrated that our fancy inn was not the highlight we hoped to finish our trip, we both left unfinished.
We cruised easily into SF and into our new apartment. It was mostly as advertised and the energy good. With a quick trip to pick up our home stuff, I managed to load the car quickly, to the brim, and deposit it into our new digs. Moving is my specialty and Ayna is always thankful and surprised that I do wonders and work miracles she cant comprehend. I wanted to get settled and the kitchen back in place immediately. This went well and she took care of the bedroom. We were able after two hours to settle into the couch, that would be our final home in SF.
Just a few days later I flew to Kansas City to arrange some final things of my fathers. Mostly storage items that needed decisions on. I enjoyed very much to go through his things, finding some clothes that actually fit me, and a few pairs of nice shoes. Spending time with my aunt, we played backgammon and talked for hours about life. Her home is always welcoming to me, and her new basement was just the space I needed to settle down and recover myself. She also had just the perfect amount of Christmas decorations around the house and it was just what I needed to sink into December.
Returning to SF I knew I was going to have to make a choice. I was feeling that something was not quite right between Ayna and I. That some differences had been brewing under the surface and they were about to come out. On the long taxi ride home, I decided to center myself and just be present. I decided that no matter what I was just going to continue loving Ayna. Coming home, I was greeted with a long hug and piercing eyes. She went back to work after our greeting and I got cleaned up and unpacked. I made some dinner and she finally took my hand and led me to the couch. She had discovered what she finally needed.
She decided she truly needed to explore her freedom and aloneness. The original issue we faced had not been silenced, in fact it needed more expression. Our relationship ended on that couch, but our love remained. Our chemistry showed up almost immediately and strongly. It was a surprise to us both. We continued on almost as we had before the conversation; a very loving and peaceful life together. There was more romantic loving expression actually because we had broken up. Freedom is everyone’s right and the highest quality and value. If we don’t feel free inside, then this must be remedied. For Ayna it seemed she needed to feel her freedom which was already present from my perspective. She also wanted to make sure I wasn’t confused and that we were indeed broken up. I agreed with her, and I understood. Yes some part of me could see where we would just continue to travel the world together and love each other, but not be in a relationship. To me this seems as natural as anything else. For her, this was totally new territory and it was important to her. We continued through the month of December like this. Doing more for ourselves than we had previously. Freedom seemed to spill into all the areas of our life that had been stuck. We drove to Salt Lake City to enjoy Christmas with our families. Knowing that explaining our situation would be strangely difficult. I guess we were just very loving friends now.
I would visit her whole family upon arriving and be warmly welcomed. Food and family galore, I was just trying to put names to faces that I had heard about. I ended up playing music and doing some healing. It was kind of like being a celebrity. So in this way I met and greeted her whole family. The interesting guy that had been in Ayna’s life had finally been explained; mostly. I left and picked up Sam from the airport and we journeyed up to the cabin. Full on snowy winter greeted us, but so did a warm home and family time.
Perhaps its uniquely western the psychological depths in which Christmas touches. For me it isn’t about religion, or the commercialization and gift giving. Its a time to be cozy, surrounded by family and loved ones, a time to eat and converse and feel the warmth of human connection in the depths of winter. Yes the decorations of Christmas and the music also touch a place that has been conditioned to feel these things, but it only helps open this space of connection. I am very grateful that the cabin is a meeting place of so many people. Neighbors, friends, and family alike all gather here, to eat, drink, and be merry. As is tradition, we all read Tortens Christmas story, complete with voice acting and sound effects from everyone present to tell the story, a ritual to honor the season and bring us all together.
Ayna and I had fun in the cabin and exploring the snow. She avoids deep winter like I avoid summer, but a few days here and there are good for everyone. We had a lot of strange expressions when we explained how our relationship had turned into just a loving relating, and that we were still traveling together over the next year. She left a few days early to head back to SF and meet her son for Christmas time there and I continued on wrapping up a few big items. On my way out of town, I left my two precious handpans in the care of a beautiful musician who would put them to loving use in the community. Then, right before heading to the airport, I dropped into the Honda dealership and sold my car. What a strange experience. The vehicle that has gone on so many adventures with me, with the simple signing of one piece of paper, handing over the keys, and walking out the door, was finished. Easier than picking up a rental car. Unfortunately that person who backed into me in Colorado ended up costing me another thousand dollars because it lessens the value when listing it online. I wouldn’t have been able to argue anyway as I was getting on a plane and that would be that. The car served me well for three years and even with the depreciation it really only cost me about seven thousand dollars. Not a bad deal. Thanks for always promoting getting a new car dad.
I returned to SF and would spend the next few days with Ayna and Roshan. We ate and played board games and saw a bit of the city. As quick as it came, our time in SF would finish. With a snafu of our storage unit right at the last minute (they closed early for New Years and we missed it by 20 minutes) we scrambled and found a wonderful solution. It is always so nice to be taken care of by the universe. To just breathe and know that everything will always work out. Sometimes you need to use your mind to figure out the solutions and other times the solutions will present themselves to you. Ayna called a friend and suddenly a huge garage space was opened to us. A rare thing in SF, so all the more a miracle. Its nice to have that little reminder right before you board a plane to India.
So still a little in shock and awe, tried from packing and moving everything, we settled into the airport. Barely any time to let the realization sink in that we were headed to India. We both had just quit our jobs, we were going to staff Path Of Love in ten days time and this would be the moment our lives changed from living in the daily go to work culture, and a year of travel and exploration would begin. All our dreams of travel, the shift in energy that always comes with change, and the unknown mysteries of the path would unfold before us with a simple one foot in front of the other attitude. We got onto the plane that would take us to the next step. Ill tell you now, Its all just been a preparation for the next step.
Lots more to come…