A few weeks ago, Bill and I made the decision to finally bring this whole long distance thing to a close. We’re both getting tired of it and I’d been planning on doing this anyway. I was going to move in with him in his two-bedroom apartment in Oklahoma. It was exciting. Finally, I was going to see the man I love every day instead of a few days at a time with weeks or months in between. It was exciting. It seemed inevitable that we would do this. I’ve been told by acquaintances that we look like a couple who has been together forever and who will be together forever. When we were both living in Oshkosh, if I went somewhere alone, I had a half dozen people ask me where Bill was. It was the kind of relationship I’ve been longing for since I was fifteen – one where you’re inexplicably tethered to the other. My past relationships were nothing really like that. I often felt like an optional accessory, one my boyfriends felt they could wear when they wanted and throw in the back of the closet when they were bored.
Basically, I felt unimportant. And my romantic experience hadn’t afforded me opportunities in which I felt allowed to feel important. That fact is an issue entirely its own. Berate me for low self-confidence and I’ll tell you every girl struggles with that. Berate me for dating assholes and I’ll tell you if a girl hasn’t, she’s at least been tempted. Berate me for realizing the signs, allowing this to happen and I’ll tell you I have no idea what I was thinking. I have no explanation.
But then in walked Bill and all was changed. He constantly made me feel beautiful and important. Other boyfriends told me they valued my intelligence, but Bill was actually interested in what I had to say. Bill challenged me and loved when I could challenge him. It was invigorating. I always felt free to share things with him. Early on, I was able to tell him the things I was most ashamed of. Scary yes, but I was not afraid of him judging me as other boyfriends had. I felt as if I had found a partner and an equal with whom I could spend years with.
Of course everybody feels like that early on in relationships. The beginnings are always blooming with possibilities and anticipation. You’re eager to learn whatever you can about the person. You kiss them so many times you become numb to what a kiss actually is since you never have to worry if another will follow. You take for granted those silly moments – naps on rainy afternoons, white zinfandel-soaked Scrabble games, Arrested Development marathons, and the times you unenthusiastically watched Star Wars movies with him. Those moments become lost in your mind because every day is full of them.
When things changed and I was 900 miles away from him, those moments took on a fresh sweetness and importance. Each interaction we shared on visits was something to be cherished since they were so few and far between. So the prospect of the distance closing and being able to create new moments and memories was exciting to me. It was that same invigoration I felt at the beginning of our relationship.
Relocating from the home I’ve known for 24 years was an intimidating prospect. But the fact that I had someone there to help me figure things out and to support me when I became overwhelmed, lonely, or scared made it easier. The fact that I was going to be with the man I love made it okay. So I got excited about it all. I decided to take this move as an opportunity to sort of reinvent myself. I began to work out and eat better. I started getting rid of things I hadn’t used in months. I started looking at all the possibilities. Instead of limiting myself to searching for clerical and administrative jobs, I began applying for writing and editorial positions. I began writing more. I read more, studying the way great essayists craft their pieces, seeing how the at first apparently unrelated threads of an essay braid together to create the meaning.
I was excited about the future and I couldn’t wait to do this with Bill at my side again.
But yesterday I woke up to something that put all of this on hold. Without going into detail, I’ll just say that the plan to move to Oklahoma has been put on hold. I’ve been a mess ever since. Having to re-evaluate my plans has caused all sorts of crying spells. I go through moments when I mourn what might be lost, then I think of the newness of my situation and I’m a little hopeful at the prospect of figuring this all out for myself without that tether to Bill. But it inevitably relapses to the mourning bit. It’s been incredible to see the amount of support of family, friends, and acquaintances that has come pouring forth.
I mostly feel like staying in bed in my own filth, crying and drinking obscene amounts of whiskey, but I realized that in order to feel better I needed to ask for help. It’s only been a day, but my friends have been there with open ears, sushi meals, and chocolate vodka to get me through this. My family has been there, not minding when their shoulders get wet. It’s great to know that though this is incredibly difficult for me to do, I don’t have to go through it alone.
I realize that if this relationship is really over, it is not the equivalent of my life being over. But that doesn’t change the fact that it hurts like hell. I feel like I’ve lost a great deal of hope – hope and possibility and all those things we talked about. Losing hope has got to be the hardest thing to lose. Having to rebuild it takes time and determination. I have none of the latter at the moment though I feel compelled to do something. I can’t be sure what that something is, but I’m pretty sure it’s buying a puppy. However, I realize when I’m feeling vulnerable, I have the tendency to make irresponsible and rash decisions, so I’m staying away from animal shelters and instead comforting myself with Taylor Swift songs and Sloane Crosley essays.