Friday, October 20, 2006

Lonely Friday

I am at the beginning of my fall break, since I don't teach on Fridays - next week is a week off. It comes just in time, too, in terms of work I have to catch up on; I have a long encyclopedia entry due on the 31st that I haven't started yet, because writing that conference paper for last week took longer than I imagined it would...I also have more job applications to do, and I have been requested to submit an abstract for a research presentation at my university. And I have to finish getting copies of readings for a new course that starts in January, so I can get the coursepack produced. So I'll be productively busy for the next ten days. Amidst all of this, since I'm in Home City, I have a whole lot of catching up to do with friends...and am filling my week up with little dates. Including my very first-ever blogger meetup, scheduled for Monday!

What is sad is that GF isn't here. She left, on Monday, on a three-week trip. (The company she worked for essentially folded in lieu of a traditional severance, she has salary continuance for seven is happily off in Europe before she starts a new job later in November - a job she's really excited about.) This is great for her - it's what she needed after months of stress about the job ending; I'm so happy she's taken this trip - she's been wanting for years to get to Italy, and is finally doing it.

Except, except...I'm lonely for her. I feel as if we're incredibly distant from each other right now. I spend half weeks in Uni City, so only see her on weekends. And we have both been on these trips of our own that cut into that time together. We have plans to go away for a few days over Christmas (both of us really like escaping that fuss), but all I can see in the foreseeable future, besides that, is time apart. More trips taken on our own - I have a weekend next month, and ten days in February, and conferences in April and May...All without her.

This would be okay - we're both very independent - except that it feels as if what little time we've had together has also been strained, of late. Our day and a half together before she left for the trip was characterized by low-grade irritation...she seemed profoundly annoyed by me. Not a good way to leave things before three weeks apart. This isn't new, really. We talk most days when I am away...I call her. This seems normal to me...we have alife together, have lived together for over three years. I don't want to talk at length, just look for a ten- or fifteen-minute check-in. And I save things up to tell her about. But almost every time I call, these days, the dynamic is the same. I never feel as if she's happy to hear from me, and in fact feel as if I'm irritating her. I always say, a minute or two into our conversation, "well, sounds like this is a bad time...I'll talk to you later..."And she, wanly and unconvincingly, tells me it's fine.

I brought this up last weekend, and she explained that she just doesn't do well on the phone, especially when our moods are so different...I'm usually calling her all excited and with things to report...and she's just...hanging out.

But still. Last year, we lived apart. I actually moved to last year's Uni City...and only came home for a few days every two-three weeks. And we did so well! Talking on the phone and all.

So now I feel slightly paranoid and a little bit uncertain. I don't want more uncertainty - I have enough, with not knowing whether I'll be employed after May 31, and not knowing where I'll be in a year from now. I want this relationship to feel like a rock, and it doesn't right now.


Sarah said...

Hey - I just wanted to say that you don't need to be paranoid. I don't actually know you or your GF, but I was once the half of a couple who was not the best phone-talker. And I loved her and missed her just as much as she did me. Sometimes different careers and travel schedules and personalities are just.....hard.

Open a bottle of wine, curl up with a good book or a good movie. I love the honesty of your blog, btw.

Someone else having a quiet Friday night.

Anonymous said...

also hving a glass or two of wine!
From an "older person", just enjoy what you have right now....wishing for more, is out of your control.

medieval woman said...

Hey Hilaire,

Sorry you're feeling a bit out of sorts and disconnected from your girlfriend - in addition to not being so good on the phone, could she maybe be picking up on your stress about "what comes next" as far as careers go? I'm sure it's not something major - just the two of you going through different transitions at different times - maybe like growing pains. But that doesn't make it any easier right now, eh? I hope you have a good week off and catch up with friends, etc.

Hilaire said...

Thanks, all. I do need to recognize that things have thir's just that I'm not comfortable with the feeling that (to use a huge cliche) we've grown apart...

But you're right, Anonymous(Flo?!), that I can't control any outcomes...I just need to focus on being the best partner I can, and that's that.

Sarah, thanks so much for your lovely comment. It is always nice to hear from someone who shares elements of my partner's perspective. I did take your advice last night...drank sherry (sherry has a bad rap - there's some good stuff out there!) and read magazines and watched Peter Mansbridge, whom I find strangely comforting - he's like a security blanket.

MW, you're quite right about the job stuff. Even though I don't talk about it much this time around, it might be coming through to her and making her nervous in any number of ways! Absolutely.

MaggieMay said...

Just chiming in to say: my husband is no good on the phone, either. So I hear you! And I bet she'll be missing you SO MUCH while she's on her trip...

Hilaire said...

Thanks, Maggie! :)

Flavia said...

I'm with Sarah. My partner and I have been long-distance for more than 4 years now, and while he's pretty much always chipper and happy to talk to me on the phone, I'm often not. Like, 20-25% of the time. He'll call when I'm feeling stressed, or when I'm in the middle of course prep, or just when I'm in the middle of reading a magazine, and I feel that my control over my time is thrown out of whack by this completely artificial way of relating--it's just not natural to talk to your *partner* once a day, all in one hour-long go, and I can be very resentful of both the way that that cuts into my own time, but also of the fact that he's NOT here.

But as with Sarah, my occasional irritibility on the phone has nothing to do with not loving him or not missing him. Being dissatisfied with the medium is not the same thing as being dissatisfied with the person using it. I just need my time, sometimes, and when he's not actually here I would sometimes rather enjoy my own company than deal with a frustrating facsimile of togetherness.

I don't know whether your girlfriend's temperament or feelings are similar to mine, but I'm pretty sure that her behavior has nothing to do with the strength of your relationship.

Hilaire said...

Flavia, you always put things so well. I get it - the thing about the frustrating facsimile of togetherness - I can really see that.

You have all helped me put this in perspective - thank you.

What Now? said...

I'm also not always good on the phone, so when my partner and I are apart, we often rely on email. So we'll still talk on the phone briefly, just to hear each other's voice, but we mostly send emails to each other, which has the advantage of allowing each person to write when she is in the mood (picking up on Flavia's point here about timing issues). So instead of saving up things to say, I'll drop her a quick line about something that just happened or what somebody just said to me, etc. Oddly, that can feel more like conversation (maybe because it's more spontaneous?) than talking on the phone.

Sorry that your relationship isn't feeling like the rock you want right now.

Hilaire said...

What Now, that makes me reconsider email...I've found that I'm kind of over email with the intimate people in my life...I'd rather talk. But you make a compelling point about the way that email might help things out...I do remember that when we emailed frequently, there was exactly what you describe - small bits of our days shared, etc. And sometimes humour, which is great - we need more of that.

Thanks for weighing in, WN!