I used to tease Dana all the time when I was right, because the joke was always that it didn’t happen all that often. Encoded in her DNA is a fanatical need to be right, but she comes by it quite honestly. I remember getting into an argument with her dad once, where he said that you couldn’t check into an airline with an iPhone. I told him that I thought you could, and he still didn’t believe me, so I printed out an article detailing the process and brought it to him. He said that I was still wrong because you couldn’t check in multiple people on one phone. It was at that point I figured out that I’d never be right about anything, and to learn to nod and smile while boiling inside. I’m just not competitive enough to try more than once.
Eventually, I hit my limit, but it took seven years. I remember talking to a friend about it that knew all of us, and I told her that I thought I’d have to win a Pullitzer Prize before they improved their opinion of me, and she said trust me, they’ll find something wrong with that, too. I didn’t realize how much it got to me until another friend came to me and said, I think you and Dana are fantastic, but I don’t think you’re fantastic together. She dismisses your ideas all the time, and the flowers that Dana brought you when you came home from your first day at Alert Logic were my idea. He thought it was ridiculous that I was willing to do everything I could to support Dana, both as a wife and a breadwinner, and not exactly getting a return on my investment. I didn’t think that was exactly true, because there were so many things that happened behind closed doors that were authentic and beautiful….. but still….
I’d been laughing off a serious problem for years, and I didn’t even realize it. Wait. That’s not true at all. I noticed that at home, I was wrong a lot, whether I actually was or not… and in public Dana would shower affection on me to the point that it looked like she was putting on a show. It didn’t seem authentic, because it was just too over the top. I’d sit there and blush to my feet without saying anything, because I preferred the Dana that was quieter, more real, less acTING, thank YOU! It was especially embarrassing after she’d had a couple of drinks, because the show included PDA that crossed the line, maybe not for some people, but definitely for someone as shy as me in that arena. For future reference, don’t grab my ass in a room full of people. It will not end well for you, because I refuse to ignore my discomfort anymore.
There are so many things I miss desperately about that relationship, but the Dana Lanagan Show™ is not one of them. Completely changing my surroundings, even though it might have seemed crazy to move, was the absolute right choice for me. I got the chance to truly start over in a city where I already felt comfortable, as opposed to taking off for Minneapolis and hoping for the best.
But the idea wasn’t crazy to my family, and they’ve supported me wholeheartedly throughout this transition. I’ve started to pay more attention to the people that support me vs. the people who try to find everything wrong with what I’m doing. I’m quite tired of the my judgment rocks, and yours sucks attitude. Because what I’ve learned is that I have to make the decisions that are best for me, because no one else is or can be responsible for the choices I make, no matter how angry someone is that I don’t follow their advice when it isn’t right for me. I genuinely ask for help when I need it, and unsolicited opinions drive me up the wall… something I had to deal with up close and personally because in the past I’ve often been guilty of it. I had to learn to release my inner judgmental dickhead (which I’m still laughing about, because the J in INFJ didn’t get past Argo… and I loved that she would genuinely call me on my bullshit). I had to learn that if I didn’t like it, no one else did, either. I decided to stop dishing it when I couldn’t take it.
Mistakes are something people have to learn on their own, and no one can predict their future for them.
Argo genuinely thought I was making a bad mistake because she thought that this move was some sort of grand gesture for her, and asked Dana if she needed a restraining order. I understand her thought process, because she couldn’t see me emote, couldn’t see my own thought process, couldn’t or wouldn’t see my own history with DC and how much I regretted ever leaving. There was a tiny thought in the back of my head that if we could see each other emote, it would change our relationship drastically, because there would be no more of either of us hiding behind a black and white screen. But that meeting had to come either as a mutual agreement or at her invitation. To think that I would seek her out when she clearly didn’t want it was over the line, Smokey. Because she chose to change the focus off all my reasons for moving and make herself the sole purpose, I was in a world of pain. By the time I actually moved, we weren’t even speaking, because we’d had a huge blowout of a fight, my fucked up thought process that if I could make it where she didn’t want to speak to me, it might reassure Dana that I was hers and hers alone. Obviously, it did not work.
Argo’s opinion meant way too much to me, and I internalized what she thought to the point that when I first moved here, I didn’t leave my house for days, even though we were separated by a fair number of miles. I had to keep reminding myself that I pushed her away so that she wouldn’t even have a chance to reject me…. that it was my choice, not hers. I had to keep reminding myself that even if we weren’t, it wouldn’t matter, because we were not in a good place emotionally and wanting to meet her on the ground just wouldn’t happen at my own hand. I had no intention of running face first into a barbed wire fence.
I’d made it impossible for her to trust me, to believe that I loved her enough to try and let go. That I had other friends in DC besides her and fully intent on making more, setting down the deep roots that I didn’t before, because my entire life revolved around Kathleen and I had no other support system besides my coworkers (who are still my friends, but have moved on to other cities).
I walked around in a complete daze, not knowing what to do with myself at first, because it was a body blow to lose a friend and a wife in such a short period of time, even though I take full responsibility for it. Just because you created the problem doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. In a lot of ways, it hurts more, because there’s so much if I’d only….. For a long time, I thought there was something I could say, something I could do, something I could achieve that would heal everything.
It was a gargantuan task to learn to stop caring so much. I wished desperately that I could go back in time, but there’s no crossing your own timeline. Not only that, I have come to feel that it was a fixed point, something that had to happen to motivate me into true change… to approach life differently all the way around. Especially because our entire relationship is chronicled in my inbox, it invites me to revisit all of the ways I participated in a relationship that started out as amazing and descended into toxicity and pain. All I wanted was my sweet, small a Argo to come back to me, but the ship had sailed. She left port with no return trip.
At times, I tried to forget. At others, I wailed like a wounded animal, sobs so deep that I shook uncontrollably- knowing that it took finding that level of pain to be able to release it. It is always a life changing moment when you fall into a deep hole you dug yourself. I had to claw my way back up, and over the years, it has been successful…. or at the very least, sufficient.
Back in the day, I thought it was a possibility that eventually Dana, Lindsay, and Matt would all move here and, along with Argo, I’d have the urban family I’d created in Portland and still miss…. not to replace them, but to create something new that was just as fulfilling. But then, Argo and I were running towards each other and not away. She thought that living in Portland, especially so close to Diane, was toxic in and of itself, and said that Dana and I should move to DC and that our brains made us imminently hireable. I told her then that it was on the three to five year plan, and three years later, almost to the day, the plan was set in motion.
So moving to DC was never impulsive, and had been on my life plan for far longer than anyone knew. Originally, it was in the plan because Dana’s parents are at least ten years older than mine. Released from family obligations, I’m still glad I made the right choice for me.
My sister and Matt haven’t moved here, but I am extraordinarily blessed that her job allows her to travel here quite frequently.
I have to hope that now Argo sees the whole chessboard, and not just single pieces. I’d be here even if I didn’t meet her at all…. but I’m glad I did. She continues to bring joy and laughter into my life even if it is only in retrospect, because as we say in Texas, she’s funny as grits.
I chose to remember all of our laughter and released all our pain, and I’m finally right about something.