Our yellow jeep wound along a perilous stretch of road alongside a cliff in Maui. I’d insisted on taking us to see a series of natural pools that lead to the ocean. My boyfriend thought this idea was ridiculous. Already, we couldn’t find the opening to the trail, and our friends were expecting us back in time for dinner. We started arguing.
Suddenly, he pulled over by slamming the brakes. I found myself looking directly in his eyes.
“What are we doing here?” he asked. He wasn’t talking about our plans for the day.
The Way We Were
For a long time, I didn’t know what to call my relationship. My boyfriend visited me in Miami. I spent the summer with him in New York. We met in the Dominican Republic, then later in Maui.
It wasn’t always this crazy.
We occupied the same world for some time, graduated college together, built a life together in New York. Our days filled happily with summer concerts, new restaurant openings, and lazy afternoons drinking wine on the fire escape.
But while he thrived in his creative work atmosphere, my life felt more and more like an endless droning desire for 5 PM Friday. As I found more freelance writing work, I dreamed of quitting my job altogether.
When I finally found the courage to make my break, I decided it made more sense for me to base my life in Miami for at least six months a year. My boyfriend was shocked. His business grounded him in New York for the most part, and he was happy with his life. I tried to assure him — as well as myself — with possible plans. I would come stay with him every few months; we could meet up in different places all over the world. It could work.
He knew I hadn’t been happy and in the end supported my decision. I was excited about the possibility of a relationship that could span different continents but also provide the reassurance of everyday routine. We agreed that we loved each other and wanted to make it work.
Our Lives Now
In some ways, our relationship re-energized. There’s new found anticipation each time we see each other. The constant shifting of location keeps life from ever getting stale.
But sometimes there are signs, invisibly chipping away at my confidence in the relationship, whispering ever more loudly that more and more often we occupy separate realms. I no longer recognize every little detail of his apartment, don’t know every aspect of his life. Nor does he know mine.
And yet, I relish my independence. I see my empty calendar and imagine the possibilities, but I still have that anchor drawing me back to him. I miss him, deeply, but my life is full of unique experiences and excitement.
His Side of Things
It has been a different experience for him. He’s had to readjust to his same reality only without me in it. He traces the same people, same places, same city only without me.
Then I reappear and everything is like before, until I leave again and he’s forced back to finding our city without me again.
I didn’t realize until that rainy day in Maui just how the things that bring us happiness no longer had the same source.
He tells me he doesn’t want to lose me, but he doesn’t want to have me half way either. Neither of us has an answer, and so we keep things going the way they are. But we know we cannot continue like this indefinitely.
What Are We Doing?
This week, boarding a plane to New York is bittersweet like never before. He’s moving to California to work with a client. I’m considering Costa Rica for a few months. Things are getting more complicated. The middle ground moves farther away for both of us.
Neither of us believes in long distance relationships. Neither wants to change life course for the other. It seems our question has an easy answer now. Easy, except we love each other and want to be together.
What do you do when everything in a relationship fits except the worlds you are occupying?
Have an answer for Gabriela? Want to weigh in? We’re interested in hearing your thoughts!