I'd recognized the glint in my brother's eye as he spoke. It was one people told me of recognizing in me, just before I was a smart ass. Little surprise, then, his comment: "So you joined a cult?" I had to pause and consider before answering. The summary offered later by a friend felt so much more apt than what I'd been able to form in my head at the moment: "Not so much a cult as a network of awesome, inspiring people."
I'd spent a sizeable hunk of the previous day in the company of my ex, an experience that I can express without reservation to have enjoyed in spite of the work that needed to be accomplished in the moment. As we talked about our respective life plans, it was apparent that the person I'd morphed into was in many ways a much more suitable life partner for her than had been the case previously. Almost completely, in fact, save the one absolutely critical part.
So, as I explained to my family that I was again dating, it was tempered by the shared knowledge that I had twice failed at the traditional narrative. The folks in my life are scattered across several cities. It's hard knowing that sometimes months will separate a shared presence beyond what can be done with video chat. But each person occupies a unique part of my heart, and I can but hope the feeling is mutual.
"No," I'd finally answered. It's complicated, especially on the nights where I'd sooner not end the day alone. But it feels like a future I'm supposed to have: existing somewhere in the midst of a densely-connected group of people keeping each other standing, moving ahead, and sharing what rewards we reap of the lives we've each sown.