Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Long Distance Intimacy

When Ma'ikwe and I first got together in October 2005, she was living in Albuquerque, where she was trying to form an intentional community, and I was living in Rutledge MO, where I had been living in community (Sandhill Farm) for 31 years. While it took us less than a month to decide to get married (which happened in April 2007), we didn't agree to live in the same time zone until 2008, when Ma'ikwe let go of trying to build community in Albuquerque (after five years in the attempt) and joined Dancing Rabbit.

Suddenly, our commute between bedrooms shrunk from 900 miles to three. Much better. We continued that way for five years, until I left Sandhill in November 2013 and we tried the novel idea of living in the same house. 

While this overview presents as a rather deliberate courtship, where we've been circling around intimacy in an ever tightening spiral more evocative of Chekhov than People magazine, it's more complicated than that.

When Ma'ikwe and I first moved into the gravitational field of one another, I was already established as a community networker and national process consultant, and she was on the front edges of moving into a similar career (though more slanted toward sustainability education). It quickly got to the point where a significant fraction of our time together was spent at neither of our homes, attending community functions or collaborating as trainer/consultants.

Thus, while we've gradually come to live together, I'm still on the road about 40-50% of the time, and I don't see that changing any time soon (as long as my health holds out). So there are two patterns here that don't particular nest together easily. On the domestic scene our lives have become ever more intertwined over the course of the last decade. Concurrent with that, my travel patterns—both what I'm doing and who I'm doing it with—haven't changed much at all over the same interval. 

All of which brings us to the reality that I'm typing this blog from the first leg of a month-long sojourn that will ultimately add up to Ma'ikwe and I not being in our Moon Lodge bed together from now until mid-April—a whopping 10 weeks. I'm scheduled to get back home circa March 3, four days after Ma'ikwe starts a six-week speaking tour, where she visits university campuses across the country offering an array of workshops and an expanded version of her popular TEDx talk Sustainable Is Possible (from October 2013).

Both of us will be doing work we love, but mostly not together. While we just completed a winter stretch where we were at Moon Lodge every night for 70 days (hooray!), we're turning right around and spending the next 70 days apart (ugh!)—excepting a 5-day island in the middle where we'll be teaching together in Portland OR (yippee!).

While there's a yin and yang symmetry about this, it's an odd mix, and contributes to strain on the relationship. When one or both of us are on the road (which will now be the case until after federal taxes are due), it's not easy making connections when we have to factor in time zone differences and a wealth of client commitments. While the phone has not been a great medium for Ma'ikwe and me connecting, it turns out that Skype is much more satisfying, where we can see facial expressions.

We'll see what Kyre and Leo (our two Maine Coon cats) think of all this, where Ma'ikwe's and my extensive travels will interrupt the all-night cat valet service they've become accustomed to—where all they have to do to is scratch on the door or the mattress in order to get one of us out of bed at all hours to let them out or in. I'll keep you posted.

• • •
Though my first stop on this peregrination is Dunmire Hollow in south central TN (home of FIC Board member Harvey Baker), I have to go north (read Chicago) in order to go south (I make the intermodal switch from train to bus in Memphis tomorrow morning). This means heading into the swirling aftermath of the 20 inches of white stuff that was dumped on Chicago last weekend. 

Fortunately, I needn't stray far from Union Station today and can mostly appreciate the prowess of Father Borealis from the comfort of the train windows. And after today I'll mostly be in the southern latitudes (taking, I hope, and early leave from icy roads and pathways). 

I have a lot to look forward to on this trip:

o  Gathering with old friends in the context of FIC's Oversight Committee meetings Feb 6-7 at Dunmire Hollow, to effect mid-course corrections for organizational affairs between Board meetings.

o  An overnight stop in New Orleans this Sunday as I switch trains from the City of New Orleans to the Sunset Limited. I believe it will mark the first time I've traveled on Amtrak's train #1 end for end. This train operates just three days/week and is the only way to cross the Mississippi River other than via Chicago—of which I see plenty. I'm looking forward to 46 hours en route, fully half of which is crossing Texas east to west.

o  I'll spend six days each in Los Angeles and Las Vegas visiting my kids, Ceilee and Jo, respectively. I haven't seen them since last March, which is the longest I've ever gone between visits and I miss them a lot—along with Taivyn & Connor, my two grandkids; and Zeus, Yoshi, and Zelda, my three granddogs. It should be 12 days full of social time with my kids and their charges.

o  The relaxed time in granddad mode will allow me plenty of opportunity to read and work on my book (which is has not been easy to manifest amidst the various distractions of home).

o  The last weekend of Feb I'll be working in Bayfield CO, facilitating the annual retreat for Heartwood, a well-established cohousing community working on revitalizing itself. While it's possible I'll catch some ice there (at 6900 feet in southwest Colorado that's certainly a possibility), I'm confident that all the meetings will be indoors. In addition to the excitement of the work itself, one of the more promising of my facilitation students, Brent Levin, will be traveling from northern California to apprentice with me and I'm looking forward to that as well.

o  At the tail end of this trip I'll get in a visit with good friends, Peggy & Earl Loftfield. It's been convenient to stay at their house in Albuquerque ever since Ma'ikwe left in '08, but that era is coming to an end as they sell their house in the coming months and move to Hawaii—where I have yet to figure out how to connect with via Amtrak.
• • •
As a final note in passing, my mother, Val (who died 12 years ago), would have been 98 today. When she was born the US had not yet entered World War I. What an incredible stretch of time! I'll enjoy taking some quiet moments today remembering her and celebrating her life.

No comments: