The autumn season typically heralds a return to sobriety and realness. Summer hedonism yields to fall’s rhythm of scholastic study and harvest. After four months of cross-country travel followed by two fantastical weeks in the desert, I sequester myself to sift, sort, contemplate, and throw out. I have been spooling wire, mopping floors, discarding remnants, and organizing bookshelves.
This is the season for break-ups. Like vetting possessions and career, fall brings glaring scrutiny to relationships. I separated from Greg two years ago in September, just after my troubled fortieth birthday. Since then, we have had jolting fits and starts to ease into two years of togetherness.
I may leave him again. Counseling taught me not to draft e-mail bombs. Such discussions are best done in person and without foregone conclusion. Nonetheless, I want to get a few private thoughts down on paper.
Before I quit my job and hit the road, Greg and I would spend about one night a week with each other and some time on the weekend. I would cook dinner for him, we might watch a movie at his apartment, or we would meet the gang of mutual friends. It was easy and infrequent tranquility.
Burning Man is a crucible for relationships. On the Playa, many couples either tie the knot or burn up in separation. Over the previous two weeks at the end of August, I observed the interaction of many long-term couples. I cannot assess whole relationships from isolated moments, but I fantasized about partnerships.
Greg and I do well together. We’re amiable, have similar values, and stay drama free except for my hysterics. Yet we may have become more friends than spouses. I know him less now than I did two years ago. We keep our separate lives and don’t communicate much when apart.
In my forties, I am finally ready to put down roots. I want a collaborator, a friend, and a partner. After a long day at work, I want to share back at home my day’s challenges and successes. I want to host dinner parties, build projects, and plan adventures. I want to share joys and confront sadness.
Greg and I are both private people, so private that I don’t know him that well. I suspect he prefers a more casual relationship, like the one we have now. I have enjoyed our time and temperament, but I need something more, perhaps with someone else. A difficult fall may lie ahead. Or not.