As the child of two workaholics, working six days a week is not unusual. Growing up, Dad would take us to the office with him on Saturday so that we could help out or do our homework without too many distractions.
But now, I see such a schedule differently. B., for those unawares, is my boyfriend. We live two hours apart, and until I went to Asia a little over two months ago, the distance did not bother me. This summer, however, has been a busy one for both of us, especially as he is now in his rotations, which are less flexible than class and studying, since he has to actually be at the hospital. His work schedule, combined with the need to sleep and the time it takes to travel, is going to sharply cut any time we wish to spend with each other. I am, how you say? nicht sehr amusiert. (That is, "not very amused" - I'm practicing German for my upcoming trip! My accent is horrible.)
It was B. who saw deeper into Max Lindenman's piece "On Dating Nice Catholic Girls" than any of the Bright Maidens. After reading the original article and the three responses, B. told me we had missed the subtle point.
"His problem," said B., "was not with the girls he dated; it was that he didn't feel special in the relationships."
I took the bait; I re-read the article. By golly, B. was right! Mr. Lindenman had written (and how had I missed it?):
Like the husband who suspects his wife of cheating, I began hunting for clues to confirm my fear, not trusting myself wholly to acknowledge them. Nevertheless, it became clear, a case for an emotional trade deficit could be made. Whereas I had a handful of friends and two hands full of enemies, Melissa was all chatty charity with everyone she met, from me to the cashier at Souper Salad. The same thoughts she murmured to me as we lay entwined of an evening would turn up the next morning on her LiveJournal page, edited for tense agreement.
If Melissa made any distinction between public and private, friendship and love, my eyes were not tuned finely enough to see it.As a writer, this passage spoke especially close to home: I'm chatty with the grocery store clerk and most people who cross my path. I talk through my thoughts with B., but also with my family, Elizabeth and Trista, and a handful of friends whose minds engage my own more broadly. This is how I was before I started dating B., and how I continue to be. Is that so wrong? Does my outreach to people and need for interaction of ideas with others lessen my attachment to my boyfriend?
I do not think so, and neither does B. (I asked.) Not feeling special is a symptom to a bigger problem, me thinks: communication. The above author and his girlfriend spent ample amount of time together, but, in the end, went separate paths because she was not ready for "the epic plunge of love" and he, from what I gathered from the re-reads, grew jealous of her indiscriminate openness. He wanted more to be sacred between them. As he wrote, almost sadly, "There's a great deal to be said for nice Catholic girls: the up-front quality, all those depths made visible, like the ocean in a color-coded map."
I'll go 360 in a minute; back to formulating my thesis. Dating with distance: it's manageable.
Sure, I miss him, hug the family dog Heidi more, play tennis because he can't (being in rotations and all), keep busy with my family, writing and reading, talk to him when possible (his bed time is now hours before mine) and [try to remember to] write letters. He's currently taunting me with another idea for a poem (he's incredibly witty).
As my Dad advised me, as in any relationship, it's all about priorities. I've found, though, it is more about patience.
|(Watch it, if just for the scenery!)|
The tagline of The Painted Veil (one of my favorite movies) is "Sometimes the greatest distance is between two people." These two people, however, were married and lived together. B. and I are not married and do not live together. Yet, without forgetting that I am comparing my relationship to a fictional one, we have much better communication. More importantly, we have honest communication.
B.'s honesty is one of his best traits, and, combined with unfailing upfrontness, we's like peas and carrots. I read recently that "honesty is very rare". So many relationships could avoid the awkward or feeling like a waiting room by a want to be honest. You have to desire honesty first, and there are plenty of ways to be tactful and polite without keeping another person wondering, especially when you're already dating that person.
Girls enjoy over-analyzing everything. I'm of the opinion that analyzing a person is not the same as getting to know them. Moreover, over-analyzation shows mistrust. It says, there is more there, and I want to know. But if you're not asking the questions to the person directly, you're not going to get the answers you so desire. I trust B., because he's honest with me when we disagree. If we had been more interested in impressing each other when we first met, we might have kept our, ahem, stronger opinions to ourselves.
Honesty isn't just bluntness; it's a desire to share the real you. This is the kind of connection distance cannot lessen. When you have a real connection with a person, three things happen:
A) You seek their thoughts, and to honestly share your own
B) You want to be a better person
C) You see opportunity in difficulty (to paraphrase Churchill)
I remember my friend Andrew, another medical student, telling me about an alcoholic who hurt his foot. He did not personally care what happened to him, but he cared about his dog, and thus sought medical care. The take-away-point was, can disease be a blessing? Andrew saw how it was a blessing for that man. It changed his whole perspective on life and the choices he was making.
|B. and me!|
Jacob had to wrestle God till dawn before he extracted a blessing from him, and I expect these coming months will provide ample opportunity to test such enduring faithfulness. My initial unhappiness at the knowledge that I am going to see him at most one day a week (and, most likely, less some weeks) is being overcome by praying and practicing patience. If God's will be done, then these next months apart will be blips on my soul's sonar.
More on this later, but if you have any thoughts or ideas, please share them with me. On a completely unrelated note, my Catholic Sexuality series posts that were supposed to start going up today are delayed one week. Thanks for your patience!