A Brief History of Soulmates

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?” – Winnie the Poah

Last night I bid a farewell to my soul sister. The separation feels like a breakup with the same hard lump in my throat and pit in my stomach. Blistering nostalgia fills my body as I look around my now emptier house, recounting the endless memories I share with my best friend. We embarked on our grandest life adventures together. Though we only lived together for a few years, those years were spent in such close proximity, physically and emotionally, that it felt more like a lifetime. We changed so significantly with each other’s friendship and mentoring. Now in the wake of the departure I feel even luckier that we flourished such a remarkable relationship.

Kristie is a lot of the reason the travel bug took up permanent residence in my soul. Our saga is full of geographical exploration and spiritual journeys. Our story is so pertinent to the experiences I will have in the coming months leading up to my world voyage, so for that I would like to share.

I met Kristie in college. We both transferred from schools in big cities out to the boondocks of Connecticut. We were introduced through mutual friends, and when Kristie cracked a joke over a pint of ice cream, I knew we had a connection. We  bonded quickly and began sharing dreams of seeing the world. After a few months, a group of us decided to plan a European backpacking trip through fifteen countries in nine weeks. Our excitement was palpable and our inexperience endearing. We couldn’t fathom what would unfold and the beauty of that ambiguity still gives me shutters. Needless to say, we had the time of our lives and our small taste of the world only spurred our yearning to see more.

I was a year behind Kristie in school, so on the last day of our trip we shared tearful goodbyes after spending every waking moment together that summer. We knew even then that we’d changed on a deep level. Kristie moved to Boston to pursue her career, and I traveled back to London to embark on my semester abroad. All the girls from the trip stayed in touch, but Kristie and I continued to become even closer. It was evident to us that we had to keep a connection like ours sacred. When I returned, I spent my last semester at school and we visited one another at every opportunity.

Upon returning from London and our summer abroad I knew I could not stay put after graduation. My restless mind reeled at the possibilities on the horizon. My childhood best friend, Dana, was living in San Diego and encouraged me to join her in Californian paradise. Of course I jumped at the idea, I would’ve jumped at any idea. So the plan was in motion, I was chomping at the bit ready to begin my post institution adventures. After learning of my news, Kristie immediately opted in on the cross country road trip. She had a solid setup in Boston; she had jobs in her field, she was working towards her Masters, and was living with old friends – but she would never turn down an opportunity for world exploration. Once again we excitedly planned our route, grinning at the many places we’d see on our travels. The trip brought back that same addicting feeling we felt the summer before.

As my move neared, a series of unfortunate events unfolded – though now I consider them clear signs from the Universe. A few days before our scheduled departure I got in a car accident, totaling the car we planned to trek cross country in. I was devastated and didn’t see how I could stick to the planned schedule. Talk of sticking around my hometown irked me straight to the bone. I felt selfish but I simply couldn’t stay, I knew I had to take the leap or I might be sucked into the slumber of comfort and monotony. Instead I expedited the process of procuring a car and was back on track for my move to the other coast. My excitement bubbled once more and I called Dana in California to tell her the good news.  Turns out Dana had some news of her own – she was pregnant. She insisted I still come out and live with her, with her boyfriend and their future baby. I appreciated that she upheld her offer, but of course this changed the living dynamic greatly. Since I didn’t have a particular desire to move to San Diego, except to be reunited with one of my greatest friends, doubt took hold. I decided to give it a shot and if it didn’t work out I would concoct another plan.

After a very painful goodbye to my wonderful parents, Kristie and I hit the open road. A flood of thoughts rushed through me as the distance from my lifetime home grew. I felt conflicted and a bit lost, but I pressed on. We spent long hours on the road. Our first stops were Niagara Falls, Chicago, and Omaha… and soon we were finally en route to a treasured destination, Colorado. I had close friends in Denver who we stayed with for an incredible weekend. We met Red Rocks for the first time, a genuinely life changing experience, and ventured throughout the state’s iconic wilderness. Kristie and I were both in love; Colorado is truly a state of open mind. My worries began to ease and I decided if things didn’t work out in California I could return to Denver, and that thought excited me. Kristie talked of the inevitable day she would leave Boston for the wild Rockies. We found solace in these dreams and continued our trek.

We zoomed through the charming desolation of Utah and Arizona on our way to the majestic Lake Powell. We camped and explored the beauty of the American Southwest — a part of the world that cannot be illustrated by the constraints of language. Our next stop was Bryce Canyon, a quick drive from the vast lake in comparison to our long Midwestern hauls. As luck would have it, we were turning into our campground when my car was hit by someone attempting to pass me. I was utterly bewildered and I was sure I hadn’t done anything wrong, my recent car crash inspired ultra-careful driving behavior. Yet there I was staring at a crumpled bumper on my one week old car. Obviously devastated, I informed my parents of the news and they insisted we drive straight to San Diego and forgo the remainder of our planned stops. Heading straight there meant missing Yosemite, San Francisco, Big Sur and the likes – perhaps the portion we were most excited for. Kristie and I spent a cold and restless night in our tent, minds reeling at the day’s events.

I was in a dark place mentally, I felt like the Universe was urging me not to continue on to San Diego. How could I continue to ignore these blatant signs? In an attempt to force the stress to the back of my mind, Kristie and I went to glimpse the spectacular Bryce Canyon. We hiked up to the properly dubbed Inspiration Point and looked around in awe at the basin of red spires and towers. I sighed heavily, overwhelmed at the situation I faced. Kristie looked at me and blurted out a thought she’d been stewing in, “what if you go to Denver instead?” Instantly the seed was planted. I couldn’t deny how right the thought of dwelling in Colorado felt. Though I still couldn’t ignore the guilt I felt about bailing on Dana so last minute.  I cared deeply about her and did not want to disappoint her. I knew her life was about to change dramatically too, and I determined that she should give her budding family a real shot, without me awkwardly in the picture living with them. Next I called my parents and told them of the potential change of plans. They were rightfully hesitant due to my lack of job or living arrangements, but as they always have they gave me their loving support. Finally the time came to break the news to Dana. Thankfully she took it better then I could’ve hoped and encouraged me to follow my heart to Colorado.

Alas, Kristie and I commenced on what became the last leg of our trip and swooped a grand U-turn back to Denver. Our excitement mixed with delirium as we raced back through the mountains to the place we left our hearts. We showed up at our friend’s doorstep and giddily celebrated the bizarre twist of fate. For the first time I ignored convention and followed my intuition, and it felt phenomenal. Of course, we weren’t thinking about the looming reality that Kristie’s structured life remained thousands of miles east and that she must inevitably return. There were moments of pure emotion when we dreamt of her simply staying, abandoning what she had back in Boston for the love of a new place. We knew this was wishful thinking but we couldn’t help ourselves, we’ve never been able to. The fateful day came when I dropped her off at the airport and we returned to our separate lives. That drive was a strange one, back towards the city I now called home with its unfamiliar streets and people and wide open possibilities. I was excited but nervous, and I felt alone for the first time in a long time.

I fumbled around in search of the signposts of a civilized life — a place to sleep, a place to work, people to befriend. I began to make sense of the chaos when the one and only person to respond to my frenzied search for a rentable room turned out to be the perfect fit. A transient house full of loving people, my new home was just what I needed. Those strangers became friends, and a few of them great friends. The place reminded me a bit of a commune, with people floating in and out, all with different stories and passions. Once my savings began to dwindle the need to find employment became immediate. After some efforts I found a job, rescued a dog with my first paycheck, and continued to fit together the puzzle pieces of my new existence.

Though I was genuinely happy with the move, I naturally missed my family and I missed Kristie. I found myself predominantly around men most of my time and I desired that beautiful feminine energy Kristie and I cultivated. We spoke often, sometimes astonishingly so. Immediately upon returning to Boston she assured me she would join me out west within the next year. I accepted this news happily, but a year felt like a long time, and I could tell she wasn’t thrilled with the idea of waiting either. I admired her persistence to be financially responsible and gain enough security to make the move.  Yet I reminded the voice in her head that throwing caution to the wind can often be rewarding.

One late night, Kristie and I video-chatted after a lush evening out in our respective cities. Our technological abilities were not at their best, and for whatever reason I could only hear her speak but she could not hear me. In our inebriated states we clamored with confusion between typing and talking, lamenting about our desire to be reunited.  I pulled and tugged at her emotions, explaining how wonderful Denver was. I could feel her yearning through her compromised state, but she reluctantly stood firm and insisted she should wait. She had a time line and a budget planned, but it would still be months down the line until it came to fruition. We were both impatient. I left the conversation discouraged, and confided in my friend about convincing Kristie to come sooner. He said with such certainty, “she will realize soon, just wait.”

Like clockwork, the next day I got a call from Kristie exclaiming she’d changed her mind and would instead be there as soon as possible. She said she woke up with an unshakable gut feeling that she could no longer live halfheartedly in Boston. I was thrilled. She laid out a new plan, and though perhaps questionable responsibly, we both knew it was an absolute necessity. She intended to quit at the end of August and be on the road by September.  With the knowledge of Kristie’s impending arrival, the few months remaining flew by and I felt increasingly more comfortable with my life in Denver. As the date got closer our communications reflected our overwhelming excitement, sometimes to the point of embarrassment. We could simply feel that we were doing exactly what we were meant to.

On that memorable morning in September, I peered down at my phone to read the text I’d been waiting for that exclaimed “almost there!” I hurried outside our empty apartment, waiting to be filled with memories, and saw Kristie’s car pull up. Pure joy is the only description of what we felt. We’d done it, we’d created the exact lives we desired. I was so proud of us resisting the urge to take the easy way out. We were creating our destinies and it was beautiful. This was my first taste of the law of attraction and how powerful it is.

The years that ensued are a blur of many emotions. Kristie and I continued on together through switching houses, jobs, finding lovers and making friends. So much of who she is and what we share shaped who I am today. We were nearly inseparable and there are no words to properly describe our connection. She is undeniably my soul mate. Though we’re still so young and only lived together a few years, the growth we experienced seems much grander. It was a special time when we were so fragile and our brains so malleable.  Through trials and tribulations, ecstasy and adventure, there is no other person who went through it all with me. Kristie inspires me in so many ways and she continuously encourages and challenges me. We learned how to fully experience life and cultivated an admirable friendship. We learned how to be free in a society which often encourages otherwise.

So last night we said goodbye, even if just a temporary one. We said goodbye to an era of youthful bliss. We said goodbye to our saga as roommates. We said goodbye to the gift we often took for granted – spending time together at every opportunity. I now feel the profound void occupying my soul. This separate reality we face is complicated and emotional. The truth is that I don’t remember what life is like without her. But the other reality is that nothing lasts forever, nor would we want it to. We knew this time would come and deep down we knew it was necessary. If nothing else, it reminds us that we are two wholly independent beings, but ones that are inextricably connected.

Now we commence on our next chapters and follow the natural progression of unstoppable time. As our physical distance grows, Kristie follows her heart and her lover to the great city of Seattle. There she will explore new lands, meet new people, and once again adapt to a new way of life. While she wholeheartedly loves Denver, she found herself with an opportunity for growth and adventure that she could not deny. As deep as our connection is, deeper still is the relentless itch of wanderlust and fear of stagnancy. These things don’t go away– but neither will our kinship with one another. As she collects new experiences in the Northwest, we will evolve to a new dimension of friendship, separate but always together.

For now I remain in Colorado. Denver is a city of constantly shifting residents. People flock to it in waves only to leave to pursue other dreams. A place that often feels like a continuous ebb and flow of transitions. After a few years here, I see how beautiful this is through changing friend groups and unexpected opportunities. This recent departure hit close to home though. My mind is lost in a sea of memories and conflicting feelings. But now my mission is to embrace these feelings, sit with them, feel them entirely, and let them go…without allowing them to spread their dark roots in my psyche. Learning to live in the present is perhaps the most difficult task we have as human members of so-called civilized society. Thus, I choose to look at this situation as an opportunity in disguise; an opportunity to return to myself, and to return to the present.

The feeling of being left behind, for lack of a better description, is difficult. I feel like I am sweeping up the ashes of a life distantly forgotten, fumbling to make sense of the remains. I am desperately fighting off the rapidly expanding need to take my own leap into the unknown. As I mentioned, and as this blog will primarily be based on, my soulman (I have an adversity to the word boyfriend) and I are gearing up for a trip around the world this fall. Our dream is to be indefinite vagabonds, trusting our intuitions, and seeing where the wind takes us. The challenge now is the period in between when I must find balance in the liminal. Transitional periods are potent and necessary. You learn a lot about finding peace when on the precipice of great change. Each moment we experience is too precious to cheapen by allowing yourself to dwell in the past or future.

Kristie’s parting shocked me back into the present and through it I am reminded to stay grounded and to slow down. Though there’s moments I feel stuck in this waiting period, I have the ability to transform this into a growing period. I must remember to be extremely grateful for these days of transition and all the abundance in my life. While I think it is healthy to daydream about the unfathomable escapades which lie ahead, I cannot let it overshadow the opportunities I have to expand in the interim. This is my challenge, to remain present and grateful, to continue to dig deep to authentic self.

I hope you will join me in my travels of consciousness and space.

“But lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it.” – How To Be Alone by Andrea Dorfman

Kate Townsend

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