Friday, March 13, 2015

Dancing with Stars

[7 am] I awoke on the westbound Empire Builder this morning, running along the Columbia River, inbound for Portland. Today I will see Ma'ikwe for the first time since she told me she wants out of the marriage Feb 6. While I'm definitely looking forward to it, there's also wonderment at what will unfold. It's not as if I'm in control.

She's two weeks into her six-week sustainability tour, and is growing as a rock star in the burgeoning world of sustainability education, springboarding off her October 2013 TEDx talk ("Sustainable Is Possible") she's managed to line up speaking gigs like Rockettes. For the next two days we get to dance together—some on stage (giving a live demonstration of high-end facilitation at Cascadia Commons in Portland OR), but mostly in private, as we perform our minuet of intimacy with minor chords of sadness.

[10 am] As soon as I got off the train in Portland (six minutes early, mind you—go Amtrak) I sat on a bench in the Waiting Area, got connected via wifi and posted a long report while I downloaded the 40 or so messages that had queued up in the 46 hours I had been offline. I was just starting to walk through the messages when Ma'ikwe walked up and gave me a hug. It was great to see her (and to get her help schlepping luggage to the car sent to collect me).

[11 am] After settling in at Cascadia Commons, Ma'ikwe and I had a two-hour conversation about where we were, where we wanted to get to, and the best path for accomplishing that.

I was able to tell her that I still wanted relationship with her and had considerable latitude about what that might look like, so long as it was something that she embraced as well. Her answers in this matter, I felt, would have considerable bearing on the matter of where it made most sense for me to be living. On the one hand stood the litany of criticisms that informed her decision to ask for a divorce. On the other stood her genuine offer to continue as teaching partners, and the rekindled warmth with which she's been solicitous about my recent health challenges and her eagerness to swap observations about what we're noticing these days—a measure of how well we know each other and respect each others' insights. It's been confusing, and I wanted to check this out while looking each other in the eye.

Ma'ikwe was able to affirm a mutual interest in remaining close friends, yet she's clear that she wants to proceed with the divorce and cease our sexual relationship. That might be revisited in the future, but she cautioned me not to count on it. She is downright positive about teaching together and was promotional about our living together at Dancing Rabbit (in separate houses).

It felt good to express clearly and directly what I want. Though Ma'ikwe offered half a loaf and not a full one, there was nonetheless sustenance her response and I came away calm and with something to chew on. Retaining my best friend is a definite plus, and was enough to justify my looking deeper at cost of living issues as a data point in my search for where next to call home.

By confirming her desire to move forward with our divorce, it was pertinent to take a closer look at how to equitably separate our finances. While we have substantial areas of agreement (whew) there still remain some sensitive spots and it was awkward for both of us to steer clear of tensions relating to how we shared (or didn't share enough) financial decisions in the past and what constitutes generosity.

[2:30 pm] We took a break for 90 minutes and then repaired to a hot tub for another round of engagement in a more buoyant environment. While the precipitating financial questions are not all dissolved resolved, the gap has been considerably narrowed and I came away from the afternoon much relieved. The bottom line is that we'll be able to figure this out.

[8:30 pm] For two hours in the evening we ate Thai food and met with members of the Cascadia facilitation corps to discuss background on the topics we'll be addressing tomorrow. It was amazing how easily Ma'ikwe and I dropped into professional facilitator mode—like putting on a pair of old slippers.

As Ma'ikwe may need to leave Cascadia for another venue (to be in situ for a workshop she's leading Sunday at a different community) right after our work tomorrow concludes, she and I may not have another chance at our divorce minuet this visit. Having gotten off the train only this morning, it's a bit surreal to contemplate being back on board the eastbound Empire Builder Sunday afternoon. 

But today was worth it. I'm looking forward to sleeping on a bed that doesn't move tonight, and in the morning enjoying the rest of my unusual life.

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