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The Uncertain Certainty of Leaving

Cover photo © Dmitryp |

Buoyed by the brazen optimism of our new love affair, my Kiwi, Rob, and I cast ourselves adrift in a revelatory landscape, the South Island of New Zealand.

I was 41 years old and desperate for a baby, he was a stranger from the bottom of the planet, and nothing about our romance made sense. Spring he rented a townhouse, summer he decamped to expedition ships, fall he floated on private yachts, and on Christmas he woke atop ice floes, drifting 60 degrees south of the equator. I could be found in my bed every day of the year.

Faced with the uncertain certainty of his departure, I did the only thing possible. I rode the dopamine high. Off we flew to tour his old stomping grounds, slipping away from reality and Seattle’s dismal November rain.

Across the vast Canterbury Plains we drove. We admired Oreo cows. We braked for sheep. We explored Christchurch, a 19th-century village bloomed from stone. It was 2008, and the city vibrated with commerce, oblivious to underground rumblings that would soon flatten it.

“This is the closest thing I have to a home,” he said.

“Did you used to live here?”

“Kind of,” he said. “My stuff is here. In storage.”

What a strange definition for home, I thought, yet for a man who lived out of a duffel bag, it had a pragmatic ring of truth. After ten years of marriage, he’d thrown into that storage unit the material evidence and stayed in motion ever since.

“Do you want to move back?” I asked.

“That was the plan,&rdq...