On my way back across the country, I stopped again to visit my dad in Indiana. I had surprised him on the way there, showing up totally unannounced, and discovered that it’s true that single men only have beer and pizza in the refrigerator. On the way back he was prepared, and we were able to spend a few days catching up. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years, and hadn’t been back to Bloomington since 2000. It brought back a lot of memories, especially of my mother, who died of cancer in 1999 when I was only 22 years old. Losing her when I did was extremely hard and really shaped my life in many ways. My dad has lived in the same house all these years, but the last time I was there was just after she was gone, so the memories in some ways were fresh in my mind. It was hard but also nice to make some new joyful memories.
I got to spend a few hours at the Tibetan Buddhist temple, founded and built by the Dalai Lama’s brother. Unfortunately I had just missed the Dalai Lama’s visit, but that meant that it was very quiet and peaceful there, which was exactly what I needed. I needed to meditate to clear my head and see what path my soul was ready to take next. I’ve never been very good at meditating, as my mind is always going going going and won’t stop. But in that place I felt some peace. I felt a sense of harmony that stood in stark contrast to the atmosphere of hostility at home in San Diego. I knew I needed peace in my life, but I was terrified of the battle I’d have to fight to get it.
After Bloomington, I headed south and stopped for a night in Montgomery, Alabama, where Tamra had just arrived to begin rehearsals for a musical. It was a warm, humid evening, and a storm rolled in with raging lightning and thunder. We’re both terrified of storms, but laughed over dinner at how we just met, yet had seen each other in three different states so far. Saying goodbye to her that night, my tears mixed with the pouring rain, I resolved that I would see her again soon. I would do whatever it took to free myself from not only my abusive partner, but all of the negative thoughts and beliefs about myself that kept me from being the best person I could be. I would rebuild my life so that I was free to travel whenever I wanted to see my friends, to do my best to give back in some measure the great gifts of love and support they have given me. A true friend who believes in you, and brings you back from the brink, is worth braving the storm.