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Cultivating a Beautiful Single Life: Part II

Updated: Apr 25

I only ever thought that i'd spend a few months in Colorado; never did I imagine staying for a total of 2 years. Even writing that out is still crazy to me, since I moved to Colorado with a 4-month lease and the intention of moving to San Diego after. While there are things I enjoyed about living there, it never felt like a longterm place for me; it was transient in nature. The altitude, the intense sunshine, lack of cultural diversity, distance from the ocean, and extreme weather and wildfires have made it seem like a place that i'd rather visit than live.

To Stay or Not to Stay

I fell in love with someone about 3.5 months after moving there. I felt something really special with him, so I decided to extend my time here a few extra months to feel it out. Instead of leaving in October like I had planned, I extended it to end of February. This guy was not my traditional type looks-wise, but I really loved who he was at his core. He was such a sweet person, who cared a lot about making others happy - despite going through a devastating family tragedy earlier in his twenties. I just felt like he got me, we loved taking trips together and playing music together. We could be doing nothing together and be the happiest we ever felt - so many of my favorite memories of us were ones where time had slowed down and we could just enjoy some wine and sit together outside. As time went on and we dated, he continued to tell me that he needed more time and wasn't sure of his feelings about me longterm, but that he loved me. By the time ~6 months of seeing each other exclusively (with no boyfriend/girlfriend title) came around I asked one last time, on valentines day - after he wrote me a 4 page card about how much he loved me - and he said he couldn't give me an answer for where he was at, and that something was just missing and he couldn't explain it. I accepted his answer and decided that I had waited long enough, so after i got home from that trip I told my landlord I'd be moving out in May.

Leaving Denver 1.0

I debated between Portland or Seattle; I knew I wanted to see more of the country and I missed the coast. I spent hours and months researching and then ultimately decided on Seattle. When May came, he helped me move across the country, packed me up and drove me thousands of miles from Colorado.

Along the move we staying in Jackson, Wyoming so we could enjoy one last mountain getaway together - hiking, exploring breweries, and just spending alone time together. There was a lot of tension on the roadtrip, with every mile we drove we were getting closer to saying goodbye forever. When we hiked in the Tetons we got in an argument over almost nothing - we both were really struggling with coming to terms with reality and our relationship coming to an end. We made the most of our remaining time together.

We said our final goodbye at the Portland airport, I knew I would need no-contact as I move on with my life and try to find someone who is certain they want to be with me, I knew I deserved that. After I dropped him off, I drove to my last destination on the move, the Oregon coast. I arrived at the Oregon coast in the town of Seaside just before sunset. I checked in to my hotel, then took my shoes off and ran with Sora towards the ocean. The smell of the fresh sea under the pink, perfect sunset is a core memory.

I hadn't seen the ocean in years due to the pandemic and living somewhere landlocked. I started crying. I felt overwhelming sadness as I just said goodbye to someone I really loved and I had to accept it was over. However, in the midst of the tears, I also felt overwhelming relief that i no longer had to be consumed with anxiety and I could start creating space for someone who wanted to be with me. After almost a full year of not being fully loved and accepted back, it really took a toll on my self-esteem. I was ready to find that spark for life that I had when I first arrived to Denver. The waves came and crashed upon the shore and with each splash on my toes I felt it taking away the last year of my life and washing me clean, ready for the next step. I posted a photo of Cannon beach and a friend from high school reached out saying they lived in Portland now, and he drove out the next day to do a hike with me along the coast. -- Just when you think you're alone, you realize people will be there for you, and they'll come through. I doubt that friend knows how much it meant to me to not be alone for that solo trip, and i'm thankful he helped cheer me up in the midst of heartbreak.

Arriving in Seattle

After a few days of solo travel, journaling and reflecting on the last year of my life, I was ready to finally get to Seattle. I was so scared to be even further from home in Virginia and to start over all again in a new city without friends or family. My nerves made me almost sick as I drove towards my new apartment in Queen Anne in Seattle. I drove across the bridge into Washington state and felt an instant warmth, it felt like home.. The first day after moving in I was invited to a Shikoku meetup and got to start meeting new friends quickly. Everything was falling into place and we were thriving. I loved my new running route along the water and without the altitude I could finally breathe and exercise more comfortably. I had a friend already coming to visit after a week of moving in, so I was able to get out and camp and hike with her. Forming these new memories helped push me forward into moving on. I was already feeling lighter being so far from someone who really put me through a lot emotionally. I was getting asked out on the streets and out and about and I think people could feel my more positive, lighter energy. Life was going better than I could have hoped.

After about a month in Seattle, he tells me he's flying out to see me and that he has something he has to tell me. When I see him he brings me flowers, has a long letter and song that he wrote on guitar for me. He tells me how he made the worst mistake of his life letting me go, and that he wants to be with me, marry me someday and have a family together. It was everything I always wanted to hear - I just wish I didn't have to move 2,000 miles away for him to realize it. He begged me to move back to Colorado (since his job isn't remote like mine and he can't leave). At this point I had signed a lease through the end of October, but I gave it some thought for a few weeks after he visited. I told myself that I'd always regret not trying, and wondering "what if" if I didn't take a chance on love. I decided to set aside my pride and come back to Colorado at a chance to be happy with him, to truly be together and committed. He promised he'd apply for a remote job upon me moving back and that we'd choose a new city together after ski season in Denver. He promised to be be better to me and to not blow this gracious second chance i was giving him. He made a lot of promises.

Back to Denver

I packed up my car in late October and my dad flew out to help me with the drive. It was a pretty treacherous drive as there was a record-breaking rain storm across the entire Pacific Northwest and California coast. We saw minimal views and were ahead of the storm just by a few hours, with flooding all through Napa and central California. We had to cancel our hotels in Yosemite and Tahoe due to the mudslides and reroute on the drive through Vegas to avoid the storm. It was as if the universe was telling me that I shouldn't be moving back. And to be honest, about a month before moving back I felt something in my gut, I knew it was not the right decision and that I wasn't in love with him anymore, but I felt pressured because I already committed to the decision and felt like I had no other choice but to see it through.

I came back to Denver with a lot of resentment that ultimately led to my lack of enthusiasm for the relationship. I was angry that I had to leave Seattle, a place I really felt was more like home than Denver. I was upset that I had to leave the close friendships I was developing. I was coming back to Denver where I had zero friends and it almost felt like I was moving backwards in time. I tried really hard to make myself get into the relationship and life with him that I thought I had wanted. However as time went on, I could sense that he wasn't in it either, which made my resentment worse. After a few months of me returning, we broke up a few days after Valentines day. I was pretty sad because I felt like I had invested so much time and energy moving back, only for it to not work out again. The hardest part of the breakup was separating the two dogs. Sora had a very strong bond with his dog, she was extremely attached. As a highly sensitive and reactive dog, she doesn't have many dog friends, but once she does become close with another dog, it's something unbreakable and very sweet.

Rebuilding After the Breakup

Breakups are never easy, but when I moved back to Denver I told myself I needed to prioritize making friends, and I am so glad I did. I had been aggressively trying to make friends and ended up becoming close with several girls in Denver. When the breakup came, they were all there for me and instead of immediately fleeing Denver to get away from him again and start over somewhere new, I decided to stay because I knew I needed to pause for a bit and work on healing myself. I got a lease through the end of October and figured that would give me enough time to figure out what my next move was. I knew I wanted more time with the girls I was getting to know, and that I wanted to deepen those friendships and see a few more things in Colorado. Im proud of myself for not running away, for staying, and really pausing to figure out what I wanted and to decide to work on myself. I spent the majority of 2022 in therapy, rebuilding my self-esteem, and I was determined to lose weight again. By the time summer came I had been running a lot and dropped from 134 lbs to 119 lbs. I decided then I wanted to run a half marathon - mind you, I had never ran more than 3 miles in my life. I signed up for a 10K mid summer and slowly worked my way up. When you get a dog (and i imagine when have a child) you can lose a sense of self or identity, and I didn't realize just how much of that had happened over the course of raising Sora. I was so focused on helping her grow that I neglected my own selfcare and goals. I hadn't done something just for myself since bringing her home; this was going to be something that was just for me. The 10K was easier than I thought, so I knew I was ready to begin training for the marathon.

I set myself 3 goals for the year that were to aim to rebuild my confidence in my abilities and also my self-esteem post-relationship. I took down a piece of paper and wrote down exactly what I was afraid of, these were things that scared me that I didn't think I was capable of.

  1. Camp alone with Sora

  2. Solo roadtrip across the country

  3. Run a half marathon

The camping one was something I have always been nervous about, but I knew I wanted to get over that fear. I dont always have friends to camp with, so I wanted to prove that I could camp alone and feel safe and enjoy it. The solo camping trip was one of my favorite memories of the year.

Next on the list was a solo roadtrip. I have always been scared to drive long distance by myself - I always worry something will happen with my car and i'll get stranded or ill get followed by strangers etc and get kidnapped, especially in rural areas. I drove out to Tahoe with friends and after they flew home, I drove alone with Sora down the pacific coast highway from San Francisco to San Diego, then through Arizona and New Mexico and back to Denver. As I was on this trip, I decided I wanted to go back to Seattle when my lease ends. I just have a feeling that I cant explain that there's something waiting for me there. I felt like my time got cut short there, and it's unfinished. I know that I still want to move to Spain someday, but for now, Seattle is calling me.

I signed up for the November Seattle half marathon when I got home from the trip. I have no idea what's waiting for me there, but I know it's all going to work out how it needs to, and if it doesn't, I can always change course and adjust as needed. As long as I have Sora with me, anywhere can feel like home. The most important part is that i'm doing things for myself and her, and hopefully the right person will come along, but either way we're having fun.


Hi! I'm Jackie and my dog is Sora. I work remote as an engineer, but I love to spend my free time in nature and by traveling to new places. I take my camera wherever I go, and sometimes my drone.

Somewhere With Sora is a Seattle-based lifestyle and travel blog that provides helpful travel and adventure tips for all kinds of trips, with or without the dogs.

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