Aug 22, 2010 1
It’s a bit funny, being temporarily separated from the person you love. I keep thinking of something that Heather Armstrong at Dooce wrote – I think she was traveling and I think she said something like, “it’s nice to miss my husband”, but I can’t find it now, so you’ll have to take my word for it. But it is nice. It’s nice to know that there’s someone out there thinking of you; it’s nice to collect thoughts and experience to share upon his return. It’s different from the time I had to leave for Boston and we didn’t really know when we’d see each other again and we had a massive time difference (and an ocean) between us. That hurt. I wouldn’t want to do that again.
On Monday he went to Scotland for a week. I was speaking to someone the other day whose girlfriend is in a South American jungle somewhere for six months. Next to that, Scotland for a week is pretty manageable.
When you live with someone, and you do all these daily-life things together, there’s an inevitable period of alienation when you discover that it’s evening and you’re home alone. How long has it been since you had a week of nights like this? Years. You cook pasta for one and watch something you know he wouldn’t enjoy – Gossip Girl or Foyle’s War, depending on your mood. You eat the sort of ice cream he might find boring (no bits of chocolate or cookie dough to break up the smooth monotony).
And the main thing is that suddenly you appreciate things you’d forgotten to appreciate, like your entire relationship, and that’s nice. That’s necessary, in a way.
You also remember important things. Like this: I remember that I do at least know who I am (as much as one ever can) apart from him. That’s always a worry with a man, but even more so when you’ve lifted yourself from your home country to reside elsewhere. The potential problem in this case is that you might allow yourself to be washed out by new experience – to become, in other words, a creature entirely dependent upon habitat, whose behaviour, likes and dislikes, daily life, is based only on The Man. What else would root you? – not childhood, or history, for in the eyes of your new countrymen, you did not exist before you came here, fully grown and adult.
But I’ve always cooked pasta and watched historical dramas that made me wish my hair was curlier and my dresses vintage. I’ve always liked walking to bookshops, spending hours deciding what to buy, impulsively stopping in at art galleries, eating lunch in parks. Nothing I do here is disingenuous. On my way home I keep running into people I know; and they know me although I am, at the moment, on my own. We still have things to say to each other. There’s chitchat, gossip, we make plans to meet up.
So in the end he and I discover that we miss each other’s company. It is not just habit or convenience or, worse, an unhealthy dependence, that keeps us together. It’s something much better. And for that, a week in Scotland is probably worth it.