The length and breadth of separation
These last couple weeks have been hard. Katie accepted a position teaching in Richford, Vermont so she has been staying with her sister in Westford while I finish packing. Things happened so fast that, by Christmas, we knew we were moving, we bought a “new” car, and made plans to pack things up so that Katie could start at the beginning of January. I decided to hang here and work, since I had not secured a job (since remedied). This meant not seeing Katie for 2 weeks. While I was able to have my fur-friend, Arlo can only comfort so much—what with his hot, stinky tongue trying to lick my to death.
This has been (I think) the longest we have been apart since high school and college. Those who know us are well aware that we did the long distance thing for a long, long time. We were really good at it. But having gotten the taste for seeing each other every day—waking up next to each other, cooking together, saying nothing to each other on car rides to the grocery store—you quickly forget what it is like to not have this.
The other day, while on a rather miserable run, I began thinking about what it might be like to be alone. There would not be someone else who told me that they loved me; I would come home to myself everyday; I would cook meals for myself; there would be no one to re-read my dissertation chapters or to discuss insignificant, mundane topics with. There would be no help beyond what I could offer myself. Some people revile in this kind of freedom and individuality—I am not one of them.
Having a partner in running is a condensed paradigm for having a partner in life. You participate in an activaty that is both rewarding and challenging (sometimes painfully so). You can go long stretches of time not speaking; or you can share, laugh, jibe, and cry together. You may not ever have to “save” each other (literally or figuratively), but the awareness that someone is there, next to you, who is willing to do that?—you wear that like a coat of armor. I comforts you; it shields you through whatever happens. Not that it eases the pain, cheapens the trials, heals the cuts and scraps, or fixes the problems. But it resides, there, in the back of your mind, as a reassurance.
There is a lyric that has become a kind of hymn that I have come to associate with any trials or difficulties that either of us go through. I try and recite it, or write it on a piece of paper and leave it for Katie when things are rough:
And when you go, where the winds are strong
When you go where flowers bend
Please take along all the best of my luck and come back unchanged
Your demons all tamed
Your flowers uncut
I don’t know what this move will bring. I am sure it will be beautiful, and I am looking forward to more views like the one below. It may also be a trial and crazy and unpredictable for a time. But I firmly believe that, for me, cutting the length and breadth of separation from my partner (the one I love more than anyone or anything) makes all the difference in the world…
…and I plan on remedying that very, very soon.