Is it possible to be completely in love and yet still not feel you have found the "One"?
I must be clear here, I'm not talking about my marriage. I am, instead, referring to how I feel about where I am living and a guilty secret I am carrying around with me.
I have fallen head over heels for the Okanogan Highlands. I've seen it through all its seasons now. I have survived my first real winter, enjoyed every drop of Spring rain - knowing there would be months without it, breathed deeply the smoke from late summer wildfires and now I have the sense of full cycle that Autumn brings, that Winter is coming. Again.
I have been befriended by many people who inspire me, strengthen me and add color and companionship to my life. Who make me think, make me laugh, keep me going through the harder times. My kids love their school and have been welcomed by the local children, my husband has once again established his Thursday night mountain biking adventures, something he enjoyed even when we lived back in Scotland.
The greater community is my type of people: The kind who wave when they drive by - a simple gesture acknowledging another human being, the kind that are fiercely independent but at the same time look out for you and don't pass by you if they think you might need help. Noone cares about what you wear, what you drive or even what you do for a living, they are interested in you as a person. As I said, my kind of people.
I spend hours running on little-used trails in the mountains, learning about all the wildlife and plants here. Eating berries as I pass by, meeting bears, moose, Bighorn sheep, coyotes, owls and eagles. Sometimes I think: "Wow, it feels really remote out here." And then I remember, yes, actually it IS really remote out here!
And occasionally, fleetingly, as I run I hear, and feel, a sound best described as a 'thrum', a drumbeat which I am convinced is the Earth's very resonance, her lifeblood. I dip dampened fingers into the thin soil and suck off the dirt just to see what it tastes like, I run my hands through the grasses, leaves and tree bark in a silent greeting. This is the closest I have ever felt to just being part of the earth, part of nature, part of all of life rather than something separate, distant or superior.
And yet I am being pulled north. At night I dream of Alaska, leaving here by foot, with the verges on the roadsides bursting into flames as I pass. I read books about that country and listen eagerly to the stories my Alaskan friends have to share. I trace maps and follow weather forecasts from various towns up there trying to determine if this great place is the "One". Everytime I see an Alaskan car license plate I am envious.
And for this I feel guilty, as if I am having a dangerous illicit relationship while a perfectly good partnership is being sidelined, one who has more than surpassed my expectations.
I throw it out there to the universe asking for help to figure out what I, and my family, are to do. Should we plunge yet again into another adventure or are we - I - not quite grasping just what is being offered here. All I get back is: "Enjoy the ride."
So I will wait and try to be faithful.
Easier said than done.
I'm sure tonight I will dream of Alaska and the road will burn behind me as I walk north.