From 775 to 773

Reno, Nevada: two years ago last month, I left you for Chicago. Yet the moment someone makes a snarky remark about you, I become six feet tall defending my little brother. I bailed. Reno still feels more like a home than Chicago. When I visit it feels like laying in the arms of an old girlfriend, familiar but altogether strange. Yet at this distance, I choose to see it in the most charitable light. And I emphasize choose. The city has more faults than San Andreas, but it was where I learned to be a man.

I'm moving in with my girlfriend this month. Those who've known me as an adult are apt to be surprised. And with good reason. I'm firmly of the belief that we never actively decide our values. We encounter them. They surprise us and assail us as if from outside ourselves. It took my whole life to turn me into someone ready to live with a girl. Even now, as we casually (i.e. not contractually) cohabitate, I implicitly know that if things ever get bad, my bed is a ten minute bike ride away. 

The remnants of a lifelong fear of intimacy and abandonment bubble up now and then. Crafty viruses lay dormant at the base of your spine even after you've recovered. They wait for the first sign of weakness, and like water on pavement, quickly fill the cracks. There is no immunity. You either learn to live with it, or you don't. If you're really lucky, you find someone who's willing to suffer through by your side. We are always susceptible. 

Am I cured? I don't even know what that means.

Am I better? Certainly.

Am I ready to live with someone? Ask me in a year. All I can say is that I'm committed, which for me is the bulk of the battle.

I have a better girl than I deserve, but more importantly I'm hoping I've learned how not to fuck it up. It doesn't mean I won't feel compelled to bolt the minute things get bad, but it's a promise that I won't. I'm discovering that staying has its merits. 

Without Reno, there is no Chicago. There is just Nick's studio apartment and masturbation and noodling. So when people talk shit about Reno, they are talking shit about twenty years of my life, family, and friends. Here's to growing up in Reno and moving away and to the love along the way.    

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