Maybe not the "ex" in the traditional sense, but my xHD, or external hard drive. 500GB of space, 155GB of it filled with old graphic design work and pictures of the old me and my old life.
Keeping things stored exclusively on an xHD is a risk and I decided recently to back up all my photos to Google whenever I had a free day. Well, apparently that was yesterday because the idea popped into my head and I decided to do it. I started, thinking it would be easy enough but expecting it to take awhile. After all, I had to back up photos from 2006 through 2012. Well, it wasn't easy at all, in fact, it was fucking hard. I forgot how easily I get stirred up by old pictures and looking at pictures from these 6 years brought me back to a time when things were different – almost easier in some ways and I started to feel immense sadness. Many emotions and thoughts flooded me, and I became anxious and unsure of how to continue my day.
Returning to Chicago both excites and terrifies me. I have so many memories in that city...the city I ran away from when I moved to SF. At the time, I was running from myself. I had turned into something that I didn't much care for and leaving the city I loved seemed like a good way to start over. And I have, and it hasn't been easy AND it's far from over. Therapy has helped me learn to think about things and discover what I want out of life. I'm slowly learning to be vulnerable – this blog is a step in that direction. For me, Chicago will be tough. I'm a visual person and my persona is activated by what I can see, hear, touch – far less on my inner workings and personal thoughts. Seeing and being in Chicago will stir up some hard memories for me and I'm afraid that I'm not strong enough to deal with those yet.
I'm afraid I'll become who I used to be. I've worked to un-learn my usual insecure antics and being back will shut me down. I'll close back off into myself, not allowing anyone to come close. I'll be out in the open, unable to hide within the security of a place where I have few friends, like I do now.
One of the biggest changes in the last two years is the loss of my "big relationship" with the guy I was certain I would marry. I could have never seen our demise coming, especially in the early years. Chicago was our stomping ground – we spent most weekends there and he showed me a side of the city I hadn't seen and grew to love. In 2008, I moved to my own apartment in Wicker Park with one of my best friends, Lindsay. Memories continued here, with parties being thrown on average of once per month, with all our friends invited. I hold these times close, even though they were tough at points. I worked two jobs – one was usually a shitty contract design job in the suburbs and the other was as a server at a small restaurant rife with drama. I had no money and struggled to get by. I also was still in contact with my highly toxic, abusive first boyfriend who seemed to creep into my life and make things worse whenever he could.
You're probably wondering how I could miss such a time. I can certainly go without some of those harder memories, but going through the xHD made me miss the essence of a person I once knew so well. True loss happened to me in 2015, even though we'd been on the rocks for years. I felt as if a part of me died and yesterday, going through the photos, I still felt the sadness and loss as if it just happened. I started to beat myself up pretty hard but in the throws of it, made a call to Seth to tell him how I was feeling, which seems unconventional but that's where I'm at now – in a relationship where I can talk to a man who understands such things without feeling jealous or insecure. He told me that of course I was sad and that it's okay to miss someone that you loved for so long.
So, that's where I'm at. I uploaded all the photos successfully and cried a ton in the process. I'm spending the Fourth by myself here in SF, which is notoriously hard for me. The Fourth has always been about rooftop parties and being around those you love. The years that I've spent it alone have been really tough so I'm not sure why I chose this weekend to go through the xHD.
That's it for now...some very raw thoughts here that I can't process in any constructive way except for writing. Thank you for reading.