|Caricature my friend Rrramone did of me back in 2006. I was living in Maputo at the time. I definitely feel like this.|
As you can imagine, I am going through a roller coaster of emotions these days. But mostly I feel peace and excitement, and lots of love amid heartache.
For many years the thing I most feared was not being together with Rico. I knew how much it would hurt for us to break up. I felt the weight of the multiple personal-family-business connections our parting would disrupt. Rico works with my family. My mom is his boss. My aunt and uncle are the investors in the businesses they run together. (Rico and my mom actually are involved in three different businesses together, all under the same big umbrella though...) Also, there is the small detail of me wanting to make a living as an artist and translator and traveler, which is not always easy even with a gainfully employed partner.
And of course there is a geographic component to how connected we are. My mom lives just up the hill from us, so it's about 3 minutes walking to get from one house to the next. My studio is in my mom's basement. My gallery is downtown, two blocks from the clocks and home decor business Rico now runs (one of the above-mentioned businesses). Rico's mom lives 10 minutes down the road by car, near the marina.
Everything is together. Has been together. Is always together. Family, business, not wanting to intrude, having to always strategize, compartmentalize personal and professional, put up limits but also have no definition to what is family and what is business.
Rico and I started out working together, as you know. Living together. Being 100% together from the moment I set foot in Mozambique. We were a team on all fronts. We continue to be a team on all fronts. We are a really good match, life partners is how it feels. We could run the world together, that's for sure.
So all of this to say...deciding to separate was excruciatingly hard and took a long time for me to find clarity about what I was feeling. But, after a long summer and winter and start of spring examining ourselves and our relationship, Rico and I looked at each other a couple Sundays ago and just knew. It was over. We have evolved into something new, whatever's next.
It is one of the greatest gifts I've ever felt to know that he and I are at peace. That we see eye to eye and feel heart to heart about where we started and where we are now ending. That we are separating but the other interconnected layers of our lives can continue, will continue.
Likely there will be better harmony there, as well. I really like Rico's mom, for example, but it's a bummer to hang out with your mother-in-law when you are contemplating the impending breakup with her son. So she and I can hang out now like I imagine we've both always wanted to. Having fun. Dancing somewhere. I can hang out with my mom again and have it be just mom. I'm not self-censoring all the time, we can travel to Italy together, eat and drink and visit and hike. Enjoy life.
I am in awe to see how many of the other relationships in my life have also healed in the wake of me and Rico separating - and also of my grandma passing away. Gina, my mom's mom, finally let go at age 94 and went to have a party with all her friends up in the sky from Italy and all around the world who have been waiting for her arrival. So after my grandma passing and then Rico and I separating, I have experienced so much healing, so much closeness and authenticity with the people I love. I am grateful for all the support and to be able to be real with my people, without walls around my heart and constantly putting up a positive front.
|Gina Paola Cantoni. 1922-2016. I look a lot like her and have inherited many of her traits and interests.|
Also, conveniently, people can give double condolences to the family. Sorry about Gina. Sorry about Rico and Ali.
I've been meeting the most incredible strangers lately, too, as a bonus gift from the universe. People with whom I can share a moment or two whenever paths randomly cross in a café or restaurant or while listening to live music. Travel reminds me to disconnect from the phone and be a person in the present moment. Eye contact. Breath. Sand. Saying hello and good morning. Smiling whenever people pass me to see who I can get to smile back. Spreading love all over the world.