People often ask me what it’s like to be away from Steve for so long. And the truth is…it’s not like anything. It just is.
I can’t compare how our relationship works to anything. It’s not like I’m away at war or at sea. It’s nothing as romantic as that. I’m just away. He’s just away from me, right now. To have a partner like Steve is what I imagine it feels like to be independently wealthy; I never really worry about much and I always feel secure. And as much as I’d like to credit blind luck with this, it’s really nothing to do with luck and all to do with him.
Sometimes people don’t understand me. It’s been that way my whole life and it’s clearly my problem, and something I work on every day, though at times I forget, become complacent and hurt someone’s feelings. I probably hurt Steve’s feelings a lot, but I’d never know it. Because hurting sometimes is just a part of loving me and it’s certainly not nice or fair. It just is.
When I got offered this job I never considered that I wouldn’t do it. I believe that two happy people make the best couples and if I went back to the job I had before this, I would be ok. We would be ok, but I wouldn’t be happy. That’s not to say that every day is like my birthday now, but much more often there are candles to blow out.
I don’t call as much as I should. I separate my year into pieces and portion them out methodically like vegetables on a child’s plate. I know I have time with Steve and time without Steve and that’s just how it is. I know I have time where I will never get what I want to eat for breakfast and then for that I will be rewarded with anything I want in a few months’ time. I always thought I had no patience. It turns out I do. It turns out I am a lot of things I thought I wasn't and I do a lot of things I thought I couldn't.
With every discovery I am a different form of myself. No more, no less, just different but the same. Ultimately showing yourself to someone is not a luxury afforded to all, and I know many who spend a great deal of time censoring themselves or polishing their corners until they bleed. I know people who bite their tongue so often it is now just a piece of meat in their mouth that they try to avoid. I used to bleed too, because the polishing never lasts and you have to keep at it. Eventually my corners would cut and I’d be back to where I started. I haven’t wasted time or energy on buffing my edges for many years, and though my flesh is not smooth and I do not feel particularly nice, I am very loved.
Mine and Steve’s story is not unique. We met and I loved him. He loved me back. Isn’t that how most love stories go? We rent a little flat and have no children. We have no pets and we have no plans. We are just navigating the changeable waters of intimacy, of companionship and of time. To say I love him never seems big enough, but it’s all the vocabulary I have.
So what’s it like to be away from my husband for six months of the year? It’s not like anything. It just is.