Tag Archives: Travel

I am not cut out for a Long Distance Relationship*

I am not cut out for a long-distance relationship.  I have never really done it.  I have watched many friends go through seasons of extended separation from significant others, and I have always considered these people to be of a stronger constitution than the average person. (namely, me.)  I have so much respect for the commitment and sacrifice that is needed to maintain a relationship (not to mention a family, a house, a life) long-distance.  It’s just never been my journey.

My husband is away for a few days at a work thing.  He has moved in to a new phase in his career that has resulted in more travel.  And by more, I mean “any at all” because he never really had to travel before.

One main reason why it feels so profound to me when my husband is out of town is that we are truly partners.  I have mentioned often that Dave would make a better single parent than I would for many reasons. (As evidenced by the list below.)  But I can survive when he is out of town.  I know what to do and I can manage the family responsibilities on my own for a few days.  I just don’t want to.  I would prefer for him to be here.  I like him.  And his absence is palpable.

Here are some reasons why I miss my husband when he is out of town:

1) There’s no one to finish the last handful of the popcorn in the bag.  I love popcorn so much.  I eat it every night with grated Parmesan on top, just like my Poppy taught me.  But I have convinced myself that I am displaying some degree of self-control by leaving one handful in the bag.  My husband bats clean-up, making me feel better about myself because he technically finished it.

2) I have to make my own coffee in the morning.  I actually enjoy making coffee, but since we have been married, Dave has been setting the coffee timer for about 4:30 am every day.  I am not sure if he means to set it for that time.  But I have come to look forward to pouring my first cup of coffee and having to heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Dave teaching Josh to dust-bust 2 years ago.

Dave teaching Josh to dust-bust 2 years ago.

3) I used to laugh while watching my husband sweep the wood floors every night (yes, he sweeps the floors EVERY NIGHT), but I get it now.  I have taken for granted the freedom to walk around barefoot and not get a small crumb stuck in between my toes.  As my husband likes to say, “How in the world can so much sand get in to one boy’s shoes?!” (I may ask Josh to sweep tomorrow.  He has a bit of his dad’s compulsion to clean if directed effectively.)

4) Ironically, I watched football by myself.  After thousands of times requesting a channel change to “anything but more football”, I couldn’t help myself.  I watched the second half of the national championship game alone.  I think it made me feel closer to him.  Or maybe the indoctrination is finally complete. (After all, I did play Fantasy Football this year.)

5) Our son wanted to wrestle me before bedtime.  Let’s get something straight.  I snuggle.

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6) The laundry gets backed up. My husband’s deep love for/obsession with laundry has always been one of his most attractive qualities.  I remember an older friend of mine telling me early in our marriage never to complain about his compulsion to do laundry.  I certainly don’t.  I think I can hold off until he gets home…

7) I miss my friend.  The relational extravert in me misses one of my favorite things about being married- coming home to my best pal every day.

8) Watching The Bachelor without him just isn’t as much fun.  Don’t misunderstand me, I still enjoyed it. But I wished he were sitting next to me, making funny comments and analyzing people with me. (Seriously though, what was the deal with that Ashley girl? Is she on opiates?) Another one of my favorite things about my husband: He boldly admits to watching The Bachelor of his own volition and never acts like he just sits through it begrudgingly because I want to watch it.

9) I stay up way too late because, when left to my own devices, I have little self-control and I get a rush from staying up later than normal and doing whatever I want.  I know, I’m a grown-up.  I can do what I want pretty much any time.  But my rebellious nature loves the thrill of being awake when the world sleeps.  Then I regret it in the morning when my son crawls on top of me and Dave isn’t here to get the day started while I maintain my “Morning Zombie Karin” persona for about 20 minutes.

dave and karin dancing10) I’ve grown accustomed to his face.  Like an old habit or ritual or security blanket.  He’s woven into my fabric now, and it’s just not the same without him. I am not the same without him.

I tend to cringe at the expression “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”.  For some reason, it feels like a game to me.  I picture a teenage girl advising her friend to “just not text him back for a while… Then he will realize how much you mean to him.” (I have a perpetual 16-year-old girl who resides in my head.) But I guess there is some truth to the old adage.  Separation doesn’t make me love my husband more, but it does help me appreciate him in a deeper way.  Missing him feels good and bad at the same time.  I think I like it that way. I hope it always feels like that.

*Alternative title for this blog post: Why my husband is a rock star and I should probably tell him that more often.

West Coast Adventures Part 1-The Enigmatic, Lonely Traveler

josh and mommy before trip unedited

After a lovely, relaxing morning together baking banana bread and watching a movie on Wednesday, I took Josh to school (as late as I possibly could and still make my flight), and I said goodbye for 4 days.  His friends greeted him excitedly, questioning his whereabouts for the first half of the day and eager to catch him up on everything he missed.  I kept returning for one more kiss, thinking of something to tell him or to say hi to a little friend.  Finally, he gave me a big hug, and, with a look of awareness and love, he smiled and said goodbye.  He didn’t grab at my ankle or cry.  He wasn’t shaky in his words or pouting at me for my decision to take a trip and leave him behind.  We said “I love you’s” and “see you soon’s” and he joined his friends.  I almost went back over for one last kiss, but I realized that would have been for me.  He was telling me he was okay, and I needed to show him that I could be, too.  I walked out of the classroom and peaked in through the glass window. (This is nothing new.  I do it pretty much every day.)  He knows I do this, and sometimes he indulges me by looking up and waving.  This day, he lifted his head and smiled.  I waved, mustered up all the courage I could find, and walked away.  And then I sobbed while singing along to the Frozen soundtrack in the car.

This might seem silly. I am sure plenty of parents leave their kids with their extremely trusting and capable partners for a few days or longer.  But I haven’t.  This is the first time I will be gone for more than 2 nights and the first time I won’t be an hour or two away from him since we brought him home.   I am reminded intimately of the drive away from him Dave and I had to make after the very first time we met him.  In that moment, we were leaving our son in a home that was not his with caregivers who were not his parents and there was nothing we could do about it.  We were driving back to our old lives 6 hours away knowing things would never be the same.  It was the best and worst feeling.

Today, almost 2 and half years later, I am leaving my son under very different circumstances.  He is home with his daddy.  He is looking forward to riding his bike at the park and playing Wii and wrestling and eating pizza.  A few days before I left, he said, “Mommy, it’s okay that you are going on a trip.  I will get a lot of good time with my Daddy.”  It’s like he had been thinking about it, and this was his conclusion.  Don’t get me wrong, he gets a lot of time with his daddy on a regular basis, but I knew what he meant.  It was an opportunity.  It was their own adventure while I was off on mine.

After a good cry in the car as I was driving away from his school, my travels began.  The sadness lingered, but another sensation came upon me- excitement.  I was eager to get to my conference and connect with a dear friend, but before that, I was actually looking forward to a day of traveling all by myself.  For those who know me, I don’t typically like the phrase “all by myself” to be associated with my name very often, but something about it felt sort of mysterious and adventurous.  For a day, I wouldn’t look like a mother or a wife or a counselor or a teacher.  I could be whoever I wanted to be.  I could be enigmatic.  I could be a loner.  I could be quiet.  I could be someone who orders a glass of wine and a rice bowl in the Charlotte Airport and eats by herself.  I could be going to California or going to Japan, and no one would know the difference.  I could be from anywhere in the world making a stop on any journey I want.  It was an adrenaline rush… for a little while.

airport meal

I got about halfway through my dinner before the loneliness hit me.  It wasn’t a consuming feeling, but it was there.  As an extrovert, airports are complicated for me.  On the one hand, I love that I am surrounded by all kinds of people moving in different directions and operating at a fast pace.  But being surrounded by thousands of people and not knowing a single person is like a tease.  And there isn’t much impetus to get to know anyone because there is little possibility for small talk with a stranger while waiting for your boarding zone to be called to turn into a meaningful friendship. (Although I am sure it happens on occasion.)  It is not just talking I want.  It’s connection.  It’s familiarity.  It’s relationship.  And it’s pretty difficult to have those things while being mysterious and stand-offish.  So maybe being enigmatic isn’t all that important to me after all.

By the time I boarded my flight for my final destination of San Diego, I threw all mystery and intrigue out the window and I Facetimed my family.  I talked loudly, I flipped the camera around to give Josh a full view of the cabin and held my arms up in the air as I waved it around.  I made kissy faces and said I love you about 12 times.  And it felt great.  The jig was up.  I could no longer pretend that I was a human rights activist in Africa or a French artist on her way to New York for an exhibit.  I was just a mom who loved her kid.

Seeing their faces made me miss them, but I also felt a support that had been absent throughout my solo traveling experience up to that point.  This is my first real trip since becoming a mom, and I realize now that I don’t want to compartmentalize my life anymore.  I don’t want to leave my identity behind for adventure and excitement.  But I also don’t want to be afraid to step away from my normal life and explore unknowns, both with and without my people.   I carry them with me wherever my travels take me, whether it’s to the grocery store down the street or to the Pacific Ocean.  So I am not an enigmatic, lonely traveler.  I am a loved, supported and connected traveler with people and things I love on both ends of my voyage.  So I can wait it out in the in between and have a meal with my oldest friend.  Me.