Four Months

Four months ago today, at six o'clock in the morning, I gave Nozomi some breakfast, said my goodbyes, and left the house for what I thought would be the last time. This is probably true, in a manner of speaking, as there was nobody remaining when I returned later in the afternoon. In the eight or nine hours that I was out, Reiko packed up as much as would fit in the car and left for her parents' home with our son and dog. I've not seen nor heard any of them since. It's been said many times before and its truth remains: this house is far too quiet without them.

Routines have changed quite a bit. Some preferences have, too. Yet what I find most interesting is how some old routines have quietly returned, revealing patterns in my past that I've been blind to for decades.

In the winter of 2001 I had exited my first long-term relationship with a woman named Jen. It was quite a challenge to parse because, as a 21 year old guy, none of your friends are much help with processing these things. They would always respond with typical guy-isms that sound nonchalant and/or macho, but accomplish little beyond being utterly dismissive of a person's need to communicate. So, as my friends were of little help, I invested a little money into a Sony Discman, burned a CD with some of the popular tunes of the time1, and started walking. A lot. I would be out for anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes every evening after getting home from work. After returning home, I'd shower then sit in front of the computer and chat on IRC until midnight before heading to bed because there was always work the next day.

The walks were incredibly helpful. I had gained quite a bit of weight during the relationship with Jen and I wanted to lose it so that I'd be less disappointed with what I saw in the mirror. While there wasn't a great deal of weight loss as a result of the exercise, the effort paid off a few months later when I moved 4,300km to the west coast of Canada. I didn't have a car at the time and money was tight, so I walked just about everywhere for the first couple of years. This allowed me to lose a great deal of weight and feel better about myself as a result.

And then the pattern repeated.

In the autumn of 2005 I had exited a relationship with another Jen who I had fallen head over heels for. While my friends were a little more help at this point, there would still be the dismissive guy-isms tossed around and not very much done in the way of processing. So, just as before, I invested a little money into a set of headphones that I could use with my Palm Tungsten T2, which would act as a portable music player while I went out walking for an hour to ninety minutes after getting home from work every day. After returning home, I'd shower then sit in front of the computer to chat on IRC or play Need for Speed until midnight before heading to bed because there was always work the next day.

Just like the winter several years before, these walks allowed me the time to think things through and lose a small portion of the weight I had gained during the failed relationship. The effort paid off again, because in the early months of 2006 I met Reiko and in August of 2007, I moved 7,700km across the planet to be with her. Shortly after getting a job2 and walking several kilometres a day to get from location to location, I became really sicktwice … and lost just over 30kg as a result. Stepping on the scale and seeing a number lower than 80.0 for the first time in a decade felt great, though I wouldn't wish the double-illness experience on anybody.

And now the pattern seems to be repeating again.

In April of this year Reiko and I split. My friends have been far more helpful with this situation, as we've all grown into adults3. And, just as before, I've invested a little bit of money in an Apple Watch that can track far more details of the walks that I embark upon twice a day. Because it's summertime, the total walking time is about 100 minutes per day, but in the springtime I was averaging about double this. Working from home means that the time that could be used for commuting is now used for power-walking. In the mornings I'll usually listen to podcasts while in the evening Paul Van Dyk or Nora En Pure will belt out the fast-paced techno that encourages greater calorie burns. After returning home, I shower then sit on the sofa with a book and read until eleven o'clock, which is the ideal time for me to get to bed so that I can start walking the following morning before seven to beat the humidity.

Just like in Canada, these walks allow me the time to think things through while losing a little bit of fat, building a little bit of muscle, and challenging myself to be a little faster with each lap of the walking course.

There are no plans to move, though. Not yet, anyway. There are still so many responsibilities here that I must tend to.

This pattern of fitness and relocation after each break-up strikes me as interesting because it's not something that I've consciously recognised before. Many men will certainly join a gym, start jogging, or otherwise try to improve their appearance after a separation in order to have some visual means of saying "Look, I'm making improvements", but the consistent pattern I've observed in my past has me wondering if there are some additional big changes coming up.

Every breakup preceded me leaving an employer by about six months and, after every job loss, I moved a remarkable distance to start over again. The first move was 4,300km and the second was 7,700km. Will the next one be 11,000km? That might mean going to Buenos Aires (11,400km), Rio de Janeiro (11,550km) or Cape Town (9,200km). This seems unlikely, though. I have responsibilities here in this part of the world. Moving elsewhere would add needless complexity; particularly if it would involve moving to a country I've never been to.

A lot has happened over the past four months. A lot will happen over the coming months, too. Will the pattern that I've observed from the past breakups continue, though? Only time will tell.

  1. I remember there was Eiffel 65's Blue, Kylie Minogue's Can't Get You Out of My Head, and Nickleback's How You Remind Me, but not much else.

  2. I still work for this company, too. The current role is very different from where I started, though.

  3. Very few people from North America (or Japan for that matter) under the age of 30 are adults. They're just kids who – ideally – have jobs.