Jul 10, 2007 | Life in Progress

several years ago, before john and i were engaged, and just months after we had moved to portland together, he left for 6 months on a grand travelling adventure with his bff zach. they had been planning the trip for years (before i came into the picture) and were finally getting ready to embark on their journey. they would spend 3 months traveling the US and 3 months abroad backpacking through europe. though i knew i would miss him terribly (and was incredibly jealous with travel envy), i encouraged him to go and keep his commitment to zach. i would stay behind in portland, alone but eagerly awaiting his return.

it was a long 6 months. frequent telephone conversations and sweet love letters kept us grounded, though i still don’t believe i’ve ever missed anything or anyone so much. toward the end of the 6 month stretch, i flew to paris to meet him for a couple of bliss-filled weeks of traveling together, and that trip also helped keep our connection strong. in many ways, the months spent apart from one another were the proof we both needed that we belonged together. the old adage that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” proved true for both of our hearts (lucky for me). also, the time apart definitely gave us both an individual focus and realization that we needed to do things just for ourselves sometimes. that by doing our own thing, we give stength and definition both to individual selves, and to our relationship. it also gave us time to see one another from a distance, to assess our connection. it allowed us, for the first time in our relationship, to miss one another.

before i had had any of those realizations, and just as john was beginning his travels, i remember being dropped off at my empty apartment after a trip home for the holidays. i didn’t know what to do with myself. john was gone. i felt alone, restless, and unsettled. portland was still new to me. i didn’t know many people. i had a fairly new job, and no car. oh yes, and it was my first rainy winter in portand. i was on my own, and i felt deeply lonely and lost. eventually i learned to embrace my independence and made some very good decisions that winter. i rode my bike everyday to/from my full-time job, stopping often at the gym on my way home. i made friends, including lisa, one of my dearest friends today. i found my way around town. read many books. walked in the rain. it ended up being a very good time for me, though the beginning was rough and hard and lonely and awkward.

years later, i have found myself in a similar situation. john will be spending the next 3 months away at a crna residency program south of here. luckily, he’ll be able to come home on the weekends, but i can feel the rumblings of my emotions. he left this morning at 4:30am. today, i feel the same way i felt when i entered my empty apartment so many years ago: alone. awkward. lost. and missing him. so, here i am, in this weird town, with no car, with a small, but still tender growing group of friendship, and a ton of time to myself to figure it all out. the tears arrived as soon as i woke up and said goodbye and i suppose they’ll keep me company for awhile while i make the adjustment. one of the biggest perks of my day is having john arrive home from his program, having dinner together, conversation, and general snuggling about with one another. we have been each other’s comfort during this last year of adjusting to the move, depending on one another more than usual, and treasuring the moments together in between studying and working. having him away during the week will be hard for me. i hope that eventually i’ll be able to move past the overwhelm and into a space of self definition, and with a heart with more focus, toward myself, and toward john. i know people do this all of the time, spending weeks apart and weekends together, but this set-up feels unnatural for us. i’m taking it day by day.

Sending much love,

Show/Hide Comments (19 comments)
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  2. Lina

    THis kind of thing is very difficult. My husband and i were araprt for a year while he was in England and i came back to NY after living there for for a year…it was so hard being apart. You can get through this though..lots more of what already feeds your soul will get you through. It will be ok.

  3. Megan Pickwell

    Never easy, but you seem to have a well grounded outlook on how to make the best of your alone time. Sometimes we surprise ourselves with the strength we often have and forget about until these times when we can call on it. May you have some great times as you get into your alone time routine and may you have much to share about all your new discoveries with your husband each weekend.

  4. ceanandjen

    I remember when Cean left for Portland ahead of Ayden and I…I cried and cried..and the same exact thing happened; we missed each other so much and it strengthened us (even after 12 years of marriage). I also remember saying the same thing you do below…that people go through this all of the time. (because I felt a bit silly)

    I understand where you are coming from, even though our circumstances were different. I will be thinking of you and hoping that you are able to use this alone time to feed your soul in ways you might not have other wise.


  5. Gwen

    Hi kellyrae,
    Your recent paintings have been amazing! I especially like the one with this post, love the texture.
    While you are having this time apart, relish the “absence makes the heart grow fonder”, and the creative time you will have. I think it is great that you and John understand that it is okay to have independence in your marriage, it will definitely help your marriage to grow. And I know, we have been together for almost 30 years!


  6. Julie H

    Oh Kelly this sounds so hard, but you know if John had a blog I bet he would tell of leaving you with a lump in his throat. How wonderful that you are able to free him in this way.
    Sending you both hugs.

  7. wabisabigirl

    I feel you sister!…my husband has just started traveling a lot with his job and is gone for weeks at a time and the first time he left (I had a 2 year old and a 5 week old) I felt almost panicked! I dreaded when it would get dark and I would be all alone. I knew it was bad when I actually considered waking up my 2 year old for company!! It was weird because I consider myself a very strong, independent person, but it does kind of throw you for a bit! Now even though it’s hard at first when he leaves, I do find what others have said to be true–that I have a little more time to work on my art, read, THINK quietly (not to mention control the remote:), etc. It might take time, but you’ll settle into a groove and before you know it 3 months will be up!

  8. Shari Beaubien

    Hang in there, sweet Kelly Rae. I’m here, along with a host of others in cyberspace, offering friendship whenever you need it. You’re not alone… xoxo Shari

  9. daisies

    hugs!! i hate it when my husband is gone for gig on a weekend or overnight … i feel for you .. hoping you will find enjoyment in the moments and the time will fly by … xox

  10. Planethalder

    What a moving and honest post. The highpoint of my day is also when my husband returns home and we can cook, sit down together for dinner, chat about our day and snuggle up. I find it hard enough having my husband go away for two nights for work – heaven knows how I will cope not seeing him for 3 months! I was single for years before I met him and was largely content being on my own. Now I’ve found my soulmate, aloneness is now more difficult.

  11. Judy Wise

    We’ll all still be here for you.xoxo

  12. Katie

    My fiance and I are about to spend two four-month stretches far apart, as I head to England to study abroad for a year. We, too, have done this before, three years ago when I spent a semester abroad. I’m excited but anxious…all that to say, I feel for you and John. May this be a time of learning and strength and growth and new experiences for both of you. Even when it’s tough being apart.

  13. nina

    honey, you sound already so strong and grounded, just by your very assessment of the situation. hang in there, and know your strength. be grateful that he is, indeed, coming home on the weekends, and that you do have him in your life – i know how much you love one another. i’ve been alone for more years than i care to think about, and this time to myself has afforded a chance to grow in ways i don’t think i would have, had there been someone else here to lean on every time i had needed extra strength. sending love – xo

  14. Cre8Tiva

    this will be a wonderful time of growth for you…i can sense it…sending you warm thoughts for company…blessings, rebecca

  15. deirdre

    Time for lunch. Just say when. You’ll find the rythym you need to get through this – and then it’ll be over.

  16. Loretta

    This is hard. My husband worked for 7 months in Portland while I stayed in Memphis with the 3 kids while they finished school. That’s when I began to explore art seriously. Consider it studio time for yourself!

  17. tejae

    Kelly, my heart goes out to you and John. You’re at the beginning, before you know it, it will be at the end and you’ll both grow and be stronger and closer because of this experience. Just remember, you’re not entirely alone, we’re here for you…your bloggin buddies.

  18. Tori

    My thoughts will be with you.
    Enjoy the time that you have to create, think, and be with yourself (albeit for a LOT of ‘me’ time)

  19. Swirly

    Wow, I know how hard this is. I find it interesting that you went through a similar experience before when John was traveling, and now you are going through it again. Perhaps this means you are ready for the deeper lessons that might be awaiting you during your time alone. I think this will be an important time for you.


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I’m Kelly Rae Roberts

Before I picked up my first paintbrush at the age of 30, I was a medical social worker. I followed my creative whispers, and today I’m an artist & Possibilitarian. I’m passionate about creating meaningful art and experiences that awaken and inspire our spirits.

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