shrm_volunteer_logoAbout a year after my divorce, my Ex announced that he was moving back to the East Coast and I was a mix of emotions… relief, sadness, fear and even excitement.

A major chapter of my life was coming to a close, but I had good friends, a really great job. As messed up as our relationship was, I was losing my best friend of 10 years. See… we had tried to do the “friend” thing after our divorce, but it failed miserably. The more time and distance I had from him, the more I wanted him out of my life. So his move was a really a blessing.

Now that I was officially a free and single girl, I set a goal for myself. I don’t know where I got the idea from, but I decided that I was going to spend however long it took, going back to all of the bars, restaurants, or other places of import that we used to frequent together to create new memories. To “reclaim” it as my own.

It didn’t take very long because we had only lived in San Francisco for two years and we didn’t go out that much. I will never forget the thought that popped into my head as I walked down Valencia Street under the dark of night, “This is my city now.” I started to cry, but it was long, deep, full of healing kind of cry. I knew that I had completed my mission.

Before we moved to San Francisco, my Ex and I both went to school in Boston. When we met at the Community College in our hometown, we both dreamed of completing our degrees and really making something of ourselves. Of course, he couldn’t do it in Philadelphia since he had to get as far away as possible, so he settled on Boston. I panicked.

By this point, we were four years into our relationship and well into our codependency. Well, I was into my codependency, at any rate. He had no problem upping his life and leaving me behind. But I couldn’t imagine being without him, so I decided to finish my schooling in Boston as well. Now that I think about it, I bet he somehow manipulated the situation to make it all work in his favor. I wouldn’t put it past him…

We lived in Boston for four years. I loved everything about that city, so when he came to me about two years in, and told me that he was moving to San Francisco after his graduation, I again was faced with a huge decision. I still had one year of schooling left and I had just secured my first full-time job after graduation, which he had fully supported. Now out of the blue, he throws another move into my face. But that was how he was.

He was the kind of person who was never happy where he was, things were always better somewhere else, and he changed his mind more times than he changed his pants, yet he would start an argument if I called him on it. I remember begging him to wait for me. “Just one more year,” I begged. “Let me get one year of work experience at this job and then we can go together.” So he relented and I was grateful, though he spent the next year making me feel guilty every chance he could for making him wait. That was my punishment.

So we finally made the move to San Francisco, found jobs easily enough, and got lucky in finding a great apartment right smack in the middle of a city experiencing its first boom. Six months in, he turns to me and says, “I want to move.”

“Move? Move where?”

“I think I want to go to Costa Rica,” he said.

“For a vacation, you mean?”

“No to live…”

I swear he had finally lost his mind. First, it was Costa Rica, then a few days later he wanted to go to New York, then a week later he wanted to go to Arizona, then back to Costa Rica. Now you may think he was just throwing out ideas, but he wasn’t. He would obsess over each place, do research, and talk about it incessantly until another place distracted him. It was maddening. “We just got here!” I shouted. “I refuse to move anywhere for at least a year. Give it some time.”

I think the reason he wanted to move was because he was having a really hard time making friends. His idiosyncrasies and demeanor were not blending in well with the West Coasters. Then the economy tanked, he lost his job, our relationship took a nose dive, he had another affair, and one year later, we were divorced.

So why is this post titled “Reclaiming Boston?”

Well, over the years, I have developed a bitterness towards anything that was Boston. Anytime anyone would bring up the word Boston, I would inwardly cringe, roll my eyes, or even get angry. After some thought, I realized that this anger that I was holding was towards my Ex, not towards the city. Yeah, a lot of shit happened in the four years we lived there, and though I loved the city, all of the unresolved anger festered and I never had the chance to reclaim it like I reclaimed San Francisco.

So as I type this, I am on a flight to the fair city of Boston for the first time in 15 years. I will spend a few days there with an old friend, relive some old, painful memories and create newer, happier ones. Hopefully, by the time I leave on Sunday, I can say with conviction, “This is my city now.”