… each moment topped the last, the sort of finish-each-others-sentences, say-the-perfect-things, whirlwind experience that leaves you absolutely sure this is what life’s supposed to be.

going places

For the past couple months, I’ve been trying to move out of the apartment I’ve been living in since March of 2008. But it’s been a series of problems from the start: a brush with the law sidetracked my original intention to move back east at the beginning of September.

After that, both finding a place and the financial drain of the delay knocked my move-out date from the end of the first week of September to the middle of September, and then to the end of September, which brings us to today, the 5th of October.

I’ve been trying to move out for the past seven days – first I had to find a place, which I did. Then I had to figure out what to do with the boxes I can’t yet afford to ship back to the northeast; I came up with a plan to handle that. And then I needed to figure out a way to get my stuff and myself to their new homes… that took longer than I’d hoped, delaying move-out day from 9/30 to 9/1 and then Friday. On Saturday, though I had plenty of money to afford my move, I was completely unable to get to it. Finally, I figured out an alternate solution Saturday afternoon, but it still took three different vehicles and another two days to get everything completely moved out.

So I’ve been spending time in a sea of boxes. All of the paintings and decorations have long been taken off the walls. I’ve sold or freecycled all the furniture I can, leaving me with a mattress on the floor of my bedroom and an old ratty sofa redeemed only by a new slipcover.

I’ve made some forward movement in one way, though – I decided that I needed a dedicated workspace, someplace outside of my living quarters that I could go and focus on work. It’s very easy to shift in and out of focus when I work from home; I don’t need to be on all the time with no-one around. But it helps me to have other people working around me.

Friday, I moved my desktop and other computer equipment into the Techstars bunker downtown. It’s a space pretty familiar to me, because of my involvement with Startup Weekend and through other techies in the startup scene here in Boulder. The bunker’s quiet, filled with creative people, and focused. No matter what else transpires, I know I can go there and work.

. . .

After my summer visitor left for Chicago and school, I renewed my determination to stay single for at least six months. I’d made that promise to myself at the beginning of this year…

But sometimes someone comes along and love smacks you in the face, flips your world upside down, argues its case with such ferocity and perfection that nothing else makes any sense. And that’s what happened last March. I didn’t intend to fall in love, and in fact we’d both promised that her visit for Gwen’s wedding was just going to be about enjoying each other’s presence and celebrating our friend’s marriage.

I barely slept during those five days, and each moment topped the last, the sort of finish-each-others-sentences, say-the-perfect-things, whirlwind experience that leaves you absolutely sure this is what life’s supposed to be.

But life intervened. The difference between our ages intervened. A lot of things happened between March and May, when she arrived in Boulder for the summer – and by then it wasn’t so perfect. We fought just as intensely as we loved, and more often.

Speeding into love at 290 miles per hour is exhilarating, but it’s hard to stay aware of all that’s happening when everything rushes by in a blur of colors and sounds. I still want that feeling – the devil-may-care, rush into a burning building sort of crazy, indecipherable love… but at the same time I want to feel the ground underneath, hug the curves, to see clearly the bumps and swerves on the road ahead, and to keep this car on the road.

So that’s why I renewed my promise to myself to slow down and learn how to drive solo for a while before getting back into the races. (And this is where I abandon this silly race-car conceit, to spare both of us from ever-more tenuous metaphorical stretches.)

I’ve been asking myself why I threw all my ‘rules’ out the window when it came to my last girlfriend. And I’m not the only one who’s asked me that question!

I keep returning to what I described earlier, that intoxicating, undeniable chemistry between two people… that sense of what happens when you & I become an us. We can figure out all the rules we want about who we should and shouldn’t be interested in, but when we try to base black and white rules on things like age, height, hair color, location, even interests, we don’t take into account the electricity that can spark between two people despite flouting our rules. We don’t take into account the us factor.

A friend of mine recently wrote a brilliant blog entry dealing with the us factor. I think it really begins to deal with the meat of relating to people.

We don’t necessarily need someone over 25, with red hair, living nearby. But by defining what I want and need to happen between the two of us – myself and a potential lover – and by understanding the ways I want to interact with someone I love, then I create a way of really knowing whether someone is (and will be) good for me. And instead of basing it on individual qualities – such as age, which doesn’t tell me a damn thing about how we get along – I can compare us to what I want us to be.

I think knowing that a few months ago could’ve made the past few months a lot easier, and avoided the whole legal morass I’ve gotten myself into. Of course, we learn through our mistakes.

. . .

My summer ex knew it before I did, acting a little suspicious when I’d be on the phone talking to this other girl. Every time I went out of town, she’d ask if I was going to hang out with the other girl. When I once left my laptop in Denver after visiting some friends, she rather pointedly asked if I left it at “Denver Girl’s” place. But I hadn’t even met Denver Girl, and in fact – without realizing there was any mutual attraction between us, I actually warned DG that “I wouldn’t even touch myself with a 10-foot pole right now,” because my summer visitor was in town, and that meant craziness and upheaval.

As often happens when I decide to fly solo for a while, I suddenly meet great people I like who like me. This time has been different, however; I’m just enjoying getting to know people, not rushing in, not holding back. Still, it’s ironic that the first person I like since I began my ‘monk’ phase is trying to do the exact same thing, to counteract her own lead-foot approach to love.

When I like someone who likes me, I tend to play the persistent part, to tease out the feelings she has for me and suggest dating. With my most recent ex, I noticed her inexplicable tendency to withdraw when things got too intensely great, and I realized she was scared by her feelings for me. I knew my own feelings for her had gone a lot further than I’d expected. So in order to avoid the two of us parting and thinking the other had just done it all for fun, I eventually sat her down and coaxed her – through an intense tug-of-war of ‘i love you’s’ and ‘I hate you’s’ and anger and laughter – to admit her feelings for me, and to admit my own for her.

It’s hard to play that role and at the same time stay fully aware of both the good and the bad; our minds are built to support and justify our actions. We see (in the thick of things) what supports our desired course.

In stepping back and taking it easy, though, I’ve realized I neither want nor need to play the role of instigator. I’m perfectly happy (and happily busy) with all sorts of other parts of my life, and feel no need to make something happen with someone else right now.

In fact, someone else will have to do all the instigating and convincing this time around. So we seem to have relegated each other to ‘friend zone’ and I’m somewhat relieved by that.

. . .

My new home sits in the center of University Hill, surrounded by the University of Colorado at Boulder and student housing. If I wanted to go out to eat or needed to stop at the store when I lived in my old place, I’d carve out half an hour or more to walk where I needed to go, run my errands and walk back. Now I live in a forest of coffee shops, unkempt students (though lately, I fit right in, in that respect), pizza & sub shops.


thanks to bedhead, residual sleepiness, and a chilly first day of October

Before I felt like I lived in a suburb, now I feel as if I live in a small city.

I get asked if I’m a student at least once a day. This morning, a random young girl at a café tried to buy me a bagel, after kicking off the conversation with “So what classes are you taking this semester?

I’m not sure what to expect living amid a population averaging 10 years my junior – I’ve figured out a few things about the young’uns (not-so-hard as it might be to believe, but I was once young too!). Mainly they’re experimenting with life, trying to figure out what they want and which way to go. It’s a delight to watch the eagerness with which they play with the world.

Everyone’s going places. Some people have no idea where, and it terrifies and excites them. I remember as a student feeling positively overwhelmed by how much experience the world could offer, by the fact that I was only human and couldn’t do everything, be everything, see everything. I wanted to! When I really look deeply at where I’m going, when I really look at how people act, I know where we’re all going, the place we’re all looking for.

We’re all trying to get home.

Mila (Jacob Stetser)

Mila is a writer, photographer, poet & technologist.

He shares here his thoughts on Buddhism, living compassionately, social media, building community,
& anything else that interests him.

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  1. Brilliant? Hardly. More like searching. :)

    I think the trick is, as you get older, to still be as excited about the trip…to still look at the scenery…but to still keep your eyes on the road…and pull over when you can’t stop yourself from looking. I consider this time in my life a pull-over moment…where I’m stopping to appreciate what’s in front of me, but know the destination will wait for me. It’ll still be there when I get there, and I don’t need to speed to find my way. I think, after all those near-death experiences, you learn that you’d rather get there in one piece.


  2. I think searching often uncovers hidden brilliance. You are too modest! :)

    And I agree with you, but what’s more – the things we love about the trip, the places we have to pull over and take it all in – those are little pieces of home too, in the sense that they speak to something within us – they often feel beautiful, warm, right. Finding home is about finding out what we need, what we want, what we love and – as much as we can – heading down that road.

    Mila (Jake Stetser)