When I was living in Denver, I broke things off with a guy I had been seeing He wrote to me: “You jam your hand in a crack and hang from a mountain. You pack up your life and seek an intentional life of community, climbing, and fulfillment. I’m just a dude who is nice and wanted to get to know you. We’re definitely not in love. Don’t know if we ever would be, but there is no chance if the assumption is that you’d have to stop being Kathy to find out.”

So, it was safe to say that the baggage had been piling up on the Kathy-highway for a long time. Yet, I’ve never felt unlucky in love. In fact, I have been exceptionally lucky to have been with some really incredible people over the years. They shaped so much of who I am today. Like the rest of us, I’ve had a few unlucky streaks and my fair share of bad dates, but ultimately those failures were blessings in disguise.

Another blessing in disguise was an unexpected fall where I broke my foot this past summer in Eldo. I now tell him that it was one of the luckiest days of my life. I don’t know how it happened, or even what happened exactly, but it did. We spent the summer uncertain if it would go beyond that, him not knowing if he was looking for a girlfriend, and me, unsure that he could give me what I needed emotionally. But when good things come along, I tend not to question them too much. And yet, I had to question everything. And I had a lot of questions to ask because he was leaving for the Canadian Rockies for two months, and I didn’t know if a real relationship could outlast that kind of thing. Well, it turns out that it can. We were about to cross rivers, climb mountains, and build bridges—one thousand miles apart. Oh, it was only a few states and the entire Canadian border.

I didn’t know what a relationship would look like with a climber, let alone an alpinist and have often asked myself if I would come second to the mountain. I was advised by a good friend to look up the word “compersion”, a term associated with polyamory. The definition read: “The feeling of joy one has experiencing another’s joy. The feeling of joy associated with seeing a loved one love another; contrasted with jealousy.” The idea is that we can be happy and love someone, while watching them love someone else, too. I was told to consider the mountain the “other woman”.

I committed to someone who needs to be in the mountains. We’ll miss a couple of holidays and birthdays together, but ultimately the best gift I could give him is allowing him to be free, like wildfire. Just as I was once told that I shouldn’t have to stop being myself to find out if love had a chance, he needed to be able to exercise that same freedom. Because ultimately, doing the things that we love are what make us better versions of ourselves and I want the best version of him. I want him to have the best version of me. Long-distance is anything but easy, but really when it comes down to it, it’s never about the length of distance or time, but the strength of your love. I told him that in the end, distance is only distance because love makes leaps and bounds (yes, even over the Canadian border).

Certain things in life cannot be measured in miles and numbers and units. I am not a rich woman by any means, but in life (and in love) I feel as though I have won the lottery.

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