Reflection on a… everything

When I left Seattle in September I honestly never thought I come back; the city I used to love to visit; the one place I could remember having happy memories from my childhood. It took everything from me left me bitter, cold and isolated; But it wasn’t the city that did that to me, it was life. When I first got to Seattle it was like a dream; the dogs and I lived in lower Queen Anne we went out every night. I was full of life, I had friends, a job; from the outside, I gave the appearance that I was overall happy.

I wasn’t truly; I was homesick for a place I’ve never really called home. It’s hard to call someplace home when your parents kick you out twice for being gay; When your entire life you’re only good enough if you brought home an A or gold metal; other than that felt like you were worthless. My childhood wasn’t all that horrible I had more than most, but it was in my recollection at points lacking love. I was forced to grow up way too soon as such didn’t get a much of a childhood.

Days were spent at an ice rink training, nights homework, My coaches saw me more than my parents, and my parents took something that I enjoyed and made it miserable. They saw talent and claimed I took it for granted, I didn’t train hard enough. Eventually, it got to the point where my father was told he couldn’t be in the ice rink for training. Competitions, traveling, always on the go; an adult at eight. When every other kid was at birthday parties; or seeing the latest movie; I was training 5 AM to 9 PM seven days a week.

Even after skating life was homework, summer school, after school activities, clubs, organizations, College courses with my mother. They took it so far. Teachers as they were my mother and I developed our coursework, I taught myself eighth grade as I was homeschooled and finished it in three months if that closer to a month and a half.

Moving to Seattle is honestly the first thing I ever did for myself. And I felt guilty; guilty for putting myself first for once and there was no reason to. I saved the money, I earned it, not that it needs an excuse, or for it to be okayed by the general public or anybody for that matter.

My Grandmother was so proud, when she told everybody else that she was too old to travel she couldn’t go see them because it was too far from Tennessee to Michigan; she was going to come to see me in Seattle. We were going to go see all my favorite places; I almost didn’t move, but she convinced me. She reminded me all I ever talked about when I was younger was moving to Seattle and she didn’t want me to give up a dream.

So what happened that made the city so dark, cloudy, and alone. More alone in a city of millions of people than I’ve ever felt; even when living in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t tell you exactly how, I don’t even think it was one thing, it was a combination of factors. The company that moved me down here forgot about me in management transition, the one person who always had my back died, after that I lost my job fired for the first time in my life and I was lost.

Life became dull and meaningless, I lost focus dropped out of my Ph.D. program, almost gave up. Didn’t have any friends, or at least I didn’t think I did. Went to work, came home, sat in my apartment, didn’t leave the house; sex and drugs became the Norm, it didn’t affect my work performance just left me empty. A shell, a shadow person; then again I’d never really been more than that. All I thought I was good at was work.

No bullshit, looking back I’m glad everything played out the way it did. In a way that year and a half I spent in isolation, was probably the best thing I could’ve done. Granted when I left here thought it was a failure, a loser; but what I learned is that I am good enough. That I am more than good enough, that it was OK for me to not be OK, to fall apart if that’s what I needed to do.

Returning is something I thought I’d never do but it’s been the greatest part of my life. Seems kind of disturbed that even with the hell I’ve been through; finding out I was positive, The crazy guy that I lived with and his crazy friends, being homeless, countless hospital visits, convinced that it all had to be in my head because of three assholes psychologically browbeating me. But it has been the greatest time of my life. I ended up with this amazing group of people who took me in, saw me as human, gave me a home and support, they were there for countless doctors visits and still are. Gave me a roof even though I couldn’t pay rent, reassured me that I have a home. Even went down to Oregon a few times to try to rescue my stuff. People who didn’t know who I was three months ago are family.

When I left September 8th never coming back, to living on the Oregon coast, building a tiny home, I found a door at a reuse store in Seattle; and that journey to pick it up, opened so many others. And even though it hasn’t been easy and most would say it hasn’t been fun; I have to say it has been the best time of my life. I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes, you just end up right where we need to be; It’s not where you thought you’d be, or where you planned to be; just where you need to.

The ramblings of a man and a dog continue in the saga of life. Their journeys destination unknown, but every journey starts with the first step and finishes with its last.

A Man, A Dog & Their Road to Health | Sleepless inSouth Beacon Hill | Fierce Ramblings of an HIV+ gay male longing the day when the struggle ends & life begin.

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Joel Jared Ehmann

A Man, A Dog & Their Road to Health | Sleepless inSouth Beacon Hill | Fierce Ramblings of an HIV+ gay male longing the day when the struggle ends & life begin.