How do you measure time?

I was talking to my mom today and I was telling her that I’m trying to get out there and date again. After having my heart broken and nursing the wounds for almost a year, it’s time to think that maybe, possibly, somewhere out there a guy exists who is better than the one who left me. The one who will tell me he still loves me but can’t be with me, as if that will somehow make this easier instead of pouring an ocean’s worth of salt on the wound.

And at some point in our conversation, she told me I measure time in relationships. That my dad measures it in music – he will remember a time in part based on what songs were popular, as if his life has a playlist only he and the top 40 charts can remember – but I measure mine in men.

This is frighteningly true.

In a lot of ways, I’m fiercely independent. I will do what I want, when I want to – unless there is a guy in my life to take into consideration. And, spoiler alert: there is almost always a guy in my life. I remember some better than others, and some weave their way in and out of my life at different times, but there is almost always some guy at least in the background.

And that’s a weird thing to acknowledge. I want to say that I don’t need a guy, that I can live a perfectly happy life without one, and I am determined to make at least the latter half of that true. But I think I’m the kind of person that does need somebody – I think I’m better in a relationship. I’m more considerate, definitely. I have to squash the petty annoyances and selfish habits that I am prone to when I’m on my own, and I think that’s a good thing.

If things don’t work out the way I want them to – if I don’t get to stay here, if I can’t make Scotland see me the way I see it – I have a back up plan. And this is the first plan in 10 years that isn’t dictated by a guy. When I moved over here (partly for the guy I was seeing at the time), I said to anybody who would listen that New Zealand was my back up plan. If I couldn’t find a way to stay here, I’d go there.

“New Zealand is our back up plan,” my then-boyfriend once corrected me.

“Oh, yeah. Our back up plan. Sure.”

(You could say that’s proof that I *don’t* actually squash the selfish part of me when I’m in a relationship. I say it’s proof that I was already starting to understand that the relationship I was in wasn’t a good one.)

I still hope it doesn’t have to happen. I still want to stay here. But it’s nice to think that I could make a decision for myself for once. Because when I think about this year, there are two things that define it for me. Writing is the first – it was the primary goal when I came here: to give myself time to write and time to be around other writers. But the second? The second is an Irish guy with bright blue eyes who always remembered the things I told him (but let me tell him the same stories over and over anyways) and made me laugh even when I didn’t want to.

If I have to get over him, if I have to give up the place that I love most and move past the person I still want the most – well, I’m going to do it from someplace breathtakingly beautiful.

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