Doing Time

Since we last caught up with our fair (read: pasty) heroine and her knight in shining flip flops, they had built quite the little nest in lazy, beachy Wilmington with two cats, a beloved espresso machine and teenage upstairs neighbors with subwoofers that registered on the Richter scale on par with an asteroid colliding with the Earth. They were happy. Life was good. The end.

Well, not quite.

Because, as life will do when everything seems to be going swimmingly, sh#t got cray cray real fast.

For one thing, due to some ill-conceived scheduling of courses at his public institution of higher learning, Jeff had to stay on an extra semester to finish his graduate degree. For another, my dream job moved to Raleigh. What seemed like an obvious solution at the time (Of course! I’ll just move in with my sister in Raleigh until Jeff finishes school!) has become 6-months of hard time in the prison of Long Distance Dating.

Before you assume that I’m getting all mellow dramatic on you, mes amis (although that’s usually a safe bet), I’d like to point you to Exhbit A: a happy couple who has already lived together in nonmarried, sinful cohabitational bliss for two years.

And now, Exhibit B: In addition to leaving behind my partner in crime, I gave up my cats, my espresso machine, my screened in porch and all the sweet herbs we were growing (basil, people – what did you think I meant?),  the beach, the bada## foam top mattress, an apartment that’s lovingly OCD clean…. but mostly Jeff.

Just sleeping in your own bed after two years of sharing it is a massive change. I mean, suddenly you’re never overheating and you’ve got twice the space to roll around and no one wakes you up with their snoring and you’re never under threat of being drooled on.

It’s awful.

Because also, no one scratches your head as you fall asleep and no one spoons you until you accidentally kick them in your sleep and no one’s there when you wake up in the morning to hear all of your crazy dreams and to try to help you figure out what they could mean.

And then there’s the dating itself. When once it was enough for the two of you to come home and just enjoy the presence of another body in the same room with you, suddenly every weekend visit is an EPIC EVENT OF MONUMENTAL PROPORTIONS!!!

This has both its benefits and downsides.

On a positive note, you find out just how much serious QT you can pack into 36 hours. This past weekend it was partner yoga, a quick road trip including a fast food meal that makes my arteries scream as I relive it, a trail run  that made us feel infinitely better about our lunch indiscretions, a killer healthy dinner downtown (and a Pumking! more killer, less healthy), frozen custard and an evening stroll, then home to pass the eff out. No complaints.

Except… The Downsides. We spend *way* more money than we should in the belief that it’s worth it because, well, it’s a special occasion. And with all the plans and the feverish need to be DOING THINGS ALL THE TIME, we completely miss what we absolutely love the most. Doing dishes together after dinner at home… playing with the cats with the laser pointer and cracking ourselves up… taking a study/work break to jump around the house and be totally ridiculous before getting on with the serious work of being adults (which even then can only get so serious), reading together on the patio while the sun shines in and the breeze shakes the leaves on our trees (that’s right – *ours*). And like 6,000,000,000 other infinitesimal moments that only happen when your just living life with another person.

Google chat, while highly entertaining, has to be scheduled and usually we get so wrapped up in the silliness of being on camera and having one of the cats inevitably block out the entire view in one giant furry eclipse that serious conversation is difficult to establish (still – I have to give this technology props for giving me the ability to just see his face, in all its pixelated glory). It’s definitely no replacement for being able to turn my head from the video or story or blog or photograph that I’m currently enamored with and share it with the fuzzy-headed, scuffy faced man studying away at the desk behind me. We’re just not sharing *life,* moment by moment. That’s what’s lost.

And we feel it, keenly. It’s in the frequent sighs and furrowed brows every time we prepare to hang up the phone, drop off the chat, or wave goodbye as a car pulls away down the street honking cheerfully to hide the driver’s sunken heart.

I guess what I really mean to say is… this sucks.

We both know it. And it’s a testament to Jeff’s desire to take care of me even from afar that I’m now the proud owner of both a foam-top mattress and an espresso machine.

But I can tell you I’d trade them both to wake up to his face every morning.

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