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.