People keep asking me why I moved to Seattle from the Midwest. I hesitate every time, even though I know the answer. I usually pause, struggling over the words, feigning deep thought, and then say something along the lines of, “There wasn’t much opportunity for me in Wisconsin. I needed to start searching elsewhere,” implying that I’m out in Seattle for a job or something. There’s truth to that. But really, I’m in Seattle right now because I’m young, the opportunity arose, and I was starved for adventure.

I am, most of the time, heartbroken. It seems something intrinsic to my nature; I am heartbroken wherever I end up. It’s an odd thing. I feel ancient, constantly carrying sorrows around with me. Typically, I reflect on life like an old man on his deathbed, not like a healthy, strong twenty-four-year-old with any amount of potential. I’m not sure when the heartbreak started, but if it hasn’t been my whole life, then it has its roots in late middle school and early high school. Imagine, this twelve-year-old boy with the heart of a weary old man, wandering forlornly around hallways in skater shoes and a California-surfer cut. Imagine! Every break-up with a girl felt like divorce, every bad grade like a job demotion. These traits have followed me through countless relationships, through almost flunking out of high school, to working as a waiter, and then to those blessed years at Calvin, where my love of life was colossal, tangible, and still, there was heartbreak throughout.

Perhaps the culmination of all this was last year, when I willingly joined and actively participated in a small group at my church knowing that I would be the only person under sixty years old. It might do you well to re-read that sentence and soak in its meaning. They were shocked by my eagerness to be there, and simultaneously shocked at how relatable I was. We gathered in their basement with our Bibles, our tea, our cookies, and we chatted. I eventually disappeared from the group, as my faith, and my “schedule,” got complicated.

Add to this my Post Calvin life: living with my parents, working at Starbucks, thinking of stories but not writing them, mourning the loss of a relationship very, very long gone. Every day felt the same, no matter what I did. Those old haunts the heart still goes to—even daily comforts brought me to them. That all might not seem like much. It isn’t much. But my heart is still a broken thing. My odd heart.

I don’t know what the cure for it is, if there is one. It’s always seemed to me that something drastic would suffice. I have dreamed of doing drastic things all the time. And they usually remain dreams and become dusty hallways to wander in reverie.

Then, two friends who live in Seattle each separately invited me to travel out and live with them. And I hesitated, if just for a moment. I hesitated just like I did before declining to go on the semester to England. It’s tiring to be an old man, you know. It’s tiring to keep saying no to things, and then to sit back and watch as those things become stories, and create friendships, and add flavor to a life. So I hesitated, but I was tired of myself, and tired of saying no, and ready to just accept some damn adventure.

Here we are, a few months later.

I’ve been here for about three weeks now. I live smack-dab in the heart of Seattle, in a humble 300-square-foot apartment with my friend Sam. I work in a Starbucks, nestled in a downtown street corner filled with glossy high rises (there is, admittedly, nothing romantic about this experience, save for the eyes I make at a cute regular…several cute regulars). Every weekend I travel to the mountains and hike around with friends, taking pictures and experiencing a kind of beauty so foreign and tremendous, it’s odd to think it’s been to the west this whole time. The excitement of meeting new people, finding new friends, and the thrill of exploring is present every day. For now, life is something new and special. It always has been, I know. But big or small, some of us need reminders. We need to force something to end to bring about a wild new beginning.

And still, I have the same, odd, broken heart.

3 Comments

  1. Elaine Schnabel

    I relate to this. Thank you for writing it so well.

    Reply
  2. Avatar

    Discovered ya through my wonderful friend Sabrina! I highly recommend you check out Barbara Honigmann’s A Love Made Out of Nothing. Her writing espouses similar feelings to what you describe, and I’ve found it be incredible helpful for putting my own experiences &/or attitudes into words.

    Reply

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