Patty left for India yesterday, and I’m going through the usual round of adjusting to life on my own for a few months. And as much as I absolutely find it hard, and always cry in the airport, for me this is just one of those relationship things you don’t really get to complain about, because, after all, I certainly knew what I was signing up for.
Because Patty’s travels usually involve remote locations, these periods of time are not like being in a long-distance relationship. During the 9 – 14 week stretches she’s away we generally don’t get to travel to see each other. Email, if available, is sporadic and limited; phone calls usually only happen in emergencies; and postal mail is rarely easier (in Oman her house didn’t have an address; in Syria they opened our letters before sending them on). The relationship becomes in these times what any relationship always is but is generally not acknowledged to be: an act of faith.
But eventually the letters do get through, even if she can’t read my handwriting or they arrive weeks after she’s already home. The calls come, even if it’s to say she’s in the hospital with pneumonia and is really gut-churningly bored. And the Internet works, at least on occasion, even if the connection kept dropping the time I asked her to move in with me (thank you, Cyprus).
She landed in Delhi about two hours ago and has probably spent the time since working on transferring on to her next flight, which will put her into Gujarat later today. She’ll be in a city there for a day before driving out to a remote site, and I can only hope in that time she manages to find Internet access or a post office. She might. Or she might not.
I, in the meantime, get to blog about this perfectly normal for us, but sort of weird for other people experience, especially with the last few months that had her in Cardiff for three months in the fall (at least there was Internet, and I got to visit as I had to be in Europe for part of that time myself); we barely spent a week in our own bed together between that trip and this one thanks to the holidays. I won’t lie; sometimes this sort of thing feels exhausting.
But right now, it also feels accomplished. We got her to the airport on time. I managed to get her a new glass cutter at Home Depot when we accidentally left hers at her parents’ place. We got almost everything done we needed to before she left, even if I’m still finishing the New Year’s cards and our attempts to book a non-working vacation have boiled down to hand-waving, putting a deposit down on something, and figuring it out later.
More than that, though, this was always supposed to be the big scary year. When we first got together and she told me about the structure of her PhD program, as opposed to those of all my friends doing the English Lit thing, there was this year out on the horizon where she might have to do field work for a whole year. It was our first or second date, and it was still terrifying. I knew, right then and there, I either had to sign up for that or get out while I could.
I signed up, and it’s meant that as Cardiff and India loomed back to back, that I really had to tamp down a bit on my pouty face. Yeah, it’s hard. We know it’s hard. But this is what she does and is part of who she is. And me, being at home waiting at her, despite my own somewhat onerous travel schedule? Part of what I do. It’s not that we wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s that we can’t.
I’d be a fool (and tempting fate) to say it’s all easy from here. Both relationships as well as planes, trains, and automobiles are hard work. But getting through this one is a bit of a milestone. So I’m happy. Even if I miss her. Even if I’m now waiting for word as if it were another age.
To celebrate, I’m borrowing her clothes again. Today, it’s a t-shirt showing UFO’s shooting lasers at the pyramids with the legend Teach the Controversy. I fear I’ll be having to explain archaeology humor, and why I’m engaging in it, all day.