Sometimes (very rarely now), on a night like tonight, when, while up late finishing up some layout work (so, so close), I unexpectedly get a message from a friend that says, "Thought you would like to know that your ex's band is using your photo without credit and presumably without permission," I think about my old life.
The life in which I was about 8 pounds heavier than at any other point in my life, 10x more stressed out than at anytime before or since, and 10x more dependent on another human being that I was ever meant to be. I think about the things I did, how closed off my mind had become to the world and other people, and how the plans I was making for my life did not sync up with what I had thought was the most important relationship in my life, and vice versa.
I think about how sad I was, and I feel bad for that Satpreet. That old Satpreet. But then I think of all the things she learned. All the things she did. How she hunkered down and worked damn hard on her art so that this Satpreet, the present Satpreet, could be where I am today, with so many accomplishments and a good artistic reputation under my belt. She taught me how to love someone more than she loved herself, and then taught me why that was wrong and stupid. She taught me how to lose sight of my dreams, and then gain them back with more force, more clarity, and more drive than I had ever thought possible.
She taught me that, just when you've given up on yourself, just when you think that the only person who cared about you is driving away with a promise of never coming back, that's when all the people who actually care about you, who love you unconditionally, will get in cars or get on planes and drive and fly and carpool to come and see you sell art and live your dream and cry yourself to sleep, because you are happy to be making art and selling it, but so sad to be alone.
From the moment he drove away, when I thought the world was falling in on me, when I thought that I wouldn't make it to the Art Fair, when I thought that I would never love again, the world was actually opening up. It was expanding and making room for the all the people that I had forgotten, all of the people that I had known, all of the people that I did not know yet but would soon love so dearly. The absence of that one person, that one overarching presence in my life, left room for so many healthier, more diverse, more exciting and fitting things than I had ever thought possible.
It's been a devastating, heart wrenching soul searching, watching shooting stars from mountain tops and falling on red rocks in the deepest canyon in the United States, sort of journey. And I am so grateful for every minute of it.
Because it has brought me here. To this moment in time, when I am so much healthier than I was back then, both physically and emotionally. I am healthier and kinder and more aware of my flaws. I surround myself by people who I care about, but many of whom challenge me and disagree with me, rather than surrounding myself with people who consistently reaffirm my world views. I am focused and driven and I have explored so much of the world that I always dreamt of exploring. I wake up to a shining sun and hummingbirds outside of my window and dear friends outside of my door. Most days, I wake up smiling and fall asleep smiling and feel so happy to be where I am.
So yes. On some nights, like this night, I find myself thinking about my old life. And I find myself smiling. Grateful that it happened; happy that it's over.