Harder Than I Expected

So, my relationship has been a bit of a roller coaster lately. Last month I wrote about how I was completely, hopelessly in love, but I warned that I may feel completely different in a few weeks. And I did. I didn’t really matter that I had kind of seen it coming, it was still somehow a shock.

When I saw him a month ago it was perfect. Then, within days it was going downhill again. Communication was the culprit once again. I knew it would be a busy month for both of us and we wouldn’t be able to see each other, but I didn’t expect the texting to become so sporadic and the Skyping to become non-existent. We didn’t speak for four weeks, and it was driving me insane most of the time.

The real problem was that I thought he didn’t care at all. I thought that he didn’t even notice the lack of communication, I thought that’s how he wanted it. And when I went to see him this weekend I thought that he didn’t really want to see me. Of course, without communicating, how are you supposed to predict what someone else is thinking? That didn’t stop me from trying though.

I was half expecting to get into a heated argument and break up with him (though I knew that if that happened I would regret it instantly). I was even more afraid that he was going to break up with me. Apparently he was thinking the same thing.

I knew that we needed to talk. I didn’t know that he was itching to talk even more than me. The talking. That was hard. Way harder than I expected.

I suppose we haven’t had many serious conversations. At least none about our relationship and our needs. Nearly a year and a half into this relationship, it was way past due.

For a few moments, when the conversation shifted into serious territory, I really thought it was over. He grasped for the words he needed and panic flooded through my veins. I recoiled a few inches away from him, bracing myself. Holding my breath, and pulling at the roots of my hair, I waited for the tiniest eternity. Until he finally asked if I ever feel like our relationship is fantastic when we’re together and then when we’re apart it just gets gradually worse and worse. YES!!! That it exactly how I feel! I had no clue he felt the same way I felt. And he exhaled in relief to know that I felt as he felt. How had we both been feeling the same thing and assuming the exact opposite? How had we both been hurting and neither of us had seen it?

The conversation that followed took many unsuspecting turns, but it did not end in a break up. It did end in a better understanding of each other, which was what we needed. I finally said what I’d been thinking for far longer than I will ever admit: I need more. I need more than texting every other night and visits once a month. I need more than lukewarm feelings and endless questions. And I got what I needed, which was not – as I had expected – the promise of weekly Skype sessions and the occasional phone call. I learned what I can expect, and I learned not to jump to conclusions. I also learned that I need to be more supportive. We can both do better. We need to, if this is going to work. And I want it to work. More than I’ve ever wanted anything.

I never thought I would care so much. I never thought this would be so hard. I thought that as soon as this became too hard it would be over. But I can’t imagine it being over. And that scares me. What if I’m too in love? Is there such a thing? I’ve always been scared of being too invested, caring too much. That’s how you get hurt. That’s how you end up curled in a ball on your floor crying hysterically while a bowl of ice cream melts into a sad puddle nearby. That’s how I picture it anyway, the aftermath of a broken heart. I hope (possibly futilely) that I never know better.

Trusting My Emotions

It’s amazing how much feelings can change and shift in such a short time span. Sometimes I’m confused by my feelings. And sometimes I just can’t believe the sheer volume of my feelings.

I just re-read a blog post I wrote 6 months ago (in August) about my relationship and I had completely forgotten how strongly I felt at the time. I remember being mad at my boyfriend, but I didn’t remember how frustrated I was with our relationship as a whole. I do, however, distinctly remember how quickly those feeling thawed once I actually got to see him and speak to him (okay, it actually took several hours, but I think that’s quick considering I had been annoyed with him for weeks).

My feelings for him are always amplified when he’s around or right after he’s left. This makes me nervous. Yes, right now I am head-over-heels. But how will I feel in 3 weeks? If my feelings are so changeable, are they still real?

While my boyfriend was visiting for Valentine’s Day he mentioned how different we were. Having been on my second glass of wine, I jokingly took a great deal of offense to this. But there are many ways in which we are very different (not that there’s a problem with this, as he reminded me “opposites attract” and we always have stuff to talk/argue about). One of our biggest differences, in my opinion, is his tendency to be rational and my tendency to be emotional. It’s not that I don’t think rationally, I just think that emotions can be equally as important.

What I’m trying to get at, in far too many words, is that I place a lot of stock in my emotions. And when I’m feeling emotions that are new to me, I don’t know what to make of it.

This being the first time I’ve ever been in a relationship, I’m having lots of new feeling. Most notably, I can’t really grasp just how much I like my boyfriend. I’ve never liked anyone this much. I’ve never enjoyed spending time with anyone (including my mom!) as much as I enjoy spending time with him.

Considering that 6 months ago I felt like our relation ship was on the verge of collapse, I don’t know if I can trust my emotions. But now – and I would never tell him this – I can’t think about my future without thinking about him.

Is this how everyone feels with their first love? Does it make any difference that I’m 23 and not 16? Will I be reading this in 3 years (or 6 months!) and once again be feeling differently? Or will I still be so in love that I can hardly process it?

I don’t know. But I do know that right now I’m in love and it’s good. Really good. And I guess nothing else really matters.

Long Distance

Grad school has brought me many new challenges, stuff I never had to deal with as an undergrad. Most noticeably, maintaining a long distance relationship – or any relationship for that matter.

I’ve had to deal with homesickness and feeling lonely. But this feels different. I change my mind about my boyfriend on a daily basis. Granted, I wasn’t 100% happy with how our relationship went this summer. I felt like I didn’t see him enough and he felt like we saw each other all the time. It’s a little bit more complicated than that (at least to me… but then again, I never even told him that I felt like that) but that’s the easiest way to describe it.

For the first few days after I moved away I was too caught up in the excitement and nerves of starting something new. Then I started to miss him, really intensely at times. But before long I started getting annoyed. I felt (and still feel) like he wasn’t taking any initiative. He never called me, he never suggested we Skype. If we did Skype it was because I suggested it. We still texted daily, but it didn’t feel like enough. (I’m writing this all in the past tense, but really I still feel the same in many ways)

I thought that I was finally not missing him anymore. And that scared me. Because I haven’t seen him in nearly 6 weeks and if I don’t miss him then I figure that maybe I don’t love him anymore. Maybe I’ve felt ignored for too long, maybe my feelings have changed.

But then I got a voice mail from him, and the sound of his voice just made something in me crumble. And I’m right back to where I was at the very beginning: missing him.

My ever changing feelings are starting to drive me crazy. Sometimes it’s even hard to concentrate on my school work (granted, some of the readings are so boring). And sometimes (right now) I just need to get my feelings written down so that I can try to sort through them. I haven’t come to any conclusions, but I’ve organized my thoughts. And sometimes that’s all that you can do.

How Can You Know It Will Last Forever

It’s been 5 months since I officially started dating my boyfriend. He’s my first love. My first everything.

I don’t know what it’s like to be in love with anyone else. I hear all these stories that when you start dating “The One” you will know the difference. It will feel different. But how will I ever know if my love for him is different than for everyone else, when I’ve never loved anyone else. (I’m talking about romantic love exclusively, or course. I’m not some heartless person. I love a lot of people, but I don’t want to rip their clothes off)

Maybe it’s just because he’s my first love that I can’t imagine loving anyone else. I’m sure a lot of people feel that way with their first love. Maybe in a few years I will look back with a greater understanding and it will all make sense. Maybe I’ll find someone else and it will feel different. But somewhere deep in my heart I know that no matter who I end up with, I will always have some love for my first. Not that I won’t be able to let him go, but I will always care about him.

Chances are we won’t be together for as long as I imagine when I let myself dream. And if this thing ends, I will know that it just isn’t meant to be. But I also know that if we somehow end up together forever, I will be happy with that. Not just content, but extremely happy.

Of course, maybe 5 months isn’t long enough to know any of this. But I can’t keep myself from thinking about it.

The “L” Word

Four months after making our relationship “official”, my boyfriend and I finally said the elusive “L” word… well, I finally let it slip, and then we said it in a more romantic way.

For the past month it has seemed that in every tv show I was watching there was an “L” word episode where two characters clearly loved each other but were afraid to say it until one character let the word slip in some awkward way. I was determined not to let this happen.

For a month I tried my hardest not to say the word every time we said goodbye or hung up from a Skype call or cuddled on the couch. I was going to say it when the time was right. Or better yet, I was going to wait for HIM to say it at the right time and then I would look him in the eyes and smile slowly and tell him that I love him too.

That did not happen.

Somehow, it ended up happening just like it happens in the TV shows. I held it in and I waited and waited until I couldn’t wait anymore. Then I let it slip when we were joking around, in a more awkward way than I’ve seen on any TV show.

It went something like this: he was doing something stupid and I jokingly said, “I’d love you even if you were …[you’ll have to fill in the blank yourself, because it wasn’t the nicest word, although I’m sure it’s not what you’re thinking]”. Followed quickly with “Sorry…” because I’d realized what I’d said and I thought I’d ruined the moment. We sat awkwardly for a few seconds before continuing with whatever random conversation we’d been having. But a few minutes later he stopped and asked why I said I was sorry. I might have some serious short-term memory problems because I literally had no clue he was talking about, and that’s what I told him and he must have thought I was lying. A few minutes later while we were making out it finally hit me what he was talking about. Then, finally, he said “I have really strong feelings for you.” And I took a deep breath and said “I love you”… only it was much harder to say that I expected. The words caught in my throat and came out so quiet they were hardly even a whisper. “What?” was his oh-so-romantic response. So I took a deep breath and said it again, this time just barely load enough for him to hear. And he said he loves me too.

And in the end, even though I made a mess of things, it was perfect and beautiful and a little bit funny.

I wouldn’t change how it happened, although I don’t know why it took me so long to say it and why it was so hard to get out when I finally did say it. That’s where my story is different from the TV shows and the movies. I couldn’t shout it from the roof tops, I could barely whisper it! There were so many moments when I wanted to say it, when I felt it, but I could not bring the words to my lips. I do love him. I loved for quite some time before I said it. And I wanted to tell him so badly. But there is such a heaviness in that word. It means so much, I wanted to be certain that I meant it when I said it. But I can’t help thinking about all the time that we wasted not telling each other how we felt, even though it was so obvious.

I’m glad we can say it now. It feels wonderful and freeing and even kind of magical.

Staying Close

As I was glancing through my unread emails today something occurred to me. I saw the subject line for an email from the Career Resource Center at my alma mater informing me of a managerial position in Oregon. I deleted it without thought and kept scrolling.

It’s highly unlikely that is would have been the type of job I would apply for, but four months ago I would have at least looked at it. Before I graduated in May I decided that I would be willing to move pretty much anywhere if it meant I could start a career.

I addition to applying for jobs all over California, I also applied for jobs in New York, New Jersey, and Ohio. In hindsight it wasn’t the smartest tactic. Why would these places bother with interviewing me via Skype when there are more than enough qualified candidates applying close by? Regardless, I would have been willing to move for the right job. I was even excited about the prospect of starting new.

Now I have no interest in moving out of Northern California. Sure, if I was offered a chance at my dream job I would accept without a second thought, regardless of location. But that is not going to happen. I’ve stopped looking for jobs outside of the area. And when I was deciding upon graduate schools to apply to I decided to cross the Southern California schools off of my list.

It’s not that I want to stay where I am. I don’t, I assure you.

It’s almost more embarrassing than that…

I don’t want to move any farther away from my boyfriend. He’s currently going to school about four hours away, and I want to be closer to him.

I never thought I would be that girl. The one who makes important life choices based on a guy. But here I am. I picked my first choice grad school before we were even technically dating, and one of my favorite things about it is that it’s only an hour drive from his school. It also happens to have an incredible one year program, but I would be lying if I said the proximity to my boyfriend has nothing to do with why I want to go there so badly. It isn’t the only reason, but it was a factor in my decision making process.

We’ve only been dating for two months and this scares me a little bit. I always said I would never let a guy get in the way of my career. But then, I’d never had a boyfriend before. And I certainly don’t mean to sound like he’s holding me back. He’s incredibly supportive and encouraging. If anything, I’m holding myself back – or will hold myself back in the future, nothing has really happened yet. But I don’t want it to come to that.

I guess what I’m really worried about is that having a boyfriend has changed more than I’ve realized. There are good changes, or course: It’s nice to have someone to talk to, to know that if I have to go through something difficult he will be there, to receive sweet text messages at random, etc.

But being in a relationship also comes with some constrictions:

  • There is a time commitment (which is fine with me right now because I don’t have a life).
  • I’m no longer single, so I can’t get drunk and make out with random strangers (I’ve never actually done that, but it sounds fun, right?).
  • I’m more reluctant to do things that are irresponsible (like booking a trip to France even though I’m $50,000 in debt with student loans), because I’m afraid he’ll think I’m crazy.
  • I’m attached to him, and that means I don’t want to move half way across the country for a job that may or may not work out.

From where I’m sitting right now, it’s hard to tell if any of those are actually that bad. Honestly, I kind of feel like having a boyfriend (not just any boyfriend, but this particular boyfriend) is good for me. I’m just afraid that five years from now I’ll realize that I was wrong.

Falling in Love… It’s Not Like in the Movies

Ok, so I’m going to be cheesy for a while (I apologize in advanced).

Last summer I worked in a sandwich shop (I still work there, unfortunately) and I worked with a guy I went to high school with (well, we’ve actually known each other since elementary school). Long story short: I really liked him and apparently he liked me too, and when he went back to school we kept in touch and when he came home for Thanksgiving break I took him as my date to my cousin’s wedding, and we decided right there to make it official (even on Facebook!) and we’ve been together since then. (Don’t judge me for the run-on sentence, I realize it’s not grammatically correct and I don’t care.)

I’m 22 and he’s 22 and this is the first time either of us have been in a relationship (also, we shared our first kiss and all that stuff – I will be writing about that soon because I think it’s stupid that society makes us feel bad if we haven’t been kissed by the time we’re 16. And my first kiss at 22 was probably the most perfect first kiss in the history of first kisses, just sayin’).

So everything is new and sparkly and perfect. Honestly, I’m afraid it might be too perfect. Seriously, how can it be this good! It’s even better than in the movies! I thought that movie love was the pinnacle; life could never be as good as fiction. But it’s actually better!

Maybe it’s really not as good as I think, and maybe every relationship feels this good in the beginning. I don’t know. I don’t have anything to compare this to. And since I’ve never done this before, I really don’t know if I am in love, as the title of this post may suggest. I’m certainly in the process of “falling” in love, but as to when I will know for certain that I’ve finished falling, I haven’t got a clue. How do you know when you’re in love? I don’t know. But it’s good, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I do know that it can’t stay this good forever. I’m naïve, I will admit, but I’m not so naïve that I think this will always be perfect. Chances are high that this relationship will end – most relationships end. (I’m just going to make up a fake statistic, but if I had to guess I would say at least 95% of relationships end. Think about it: most people date several people before they get married, and many marriages end too.) I can’t see it ending any time in the foreseeable future, but I also can’t foresee what I will have for lunch tomorrow. It might end, it will probably end, but that’s ok. Because it has been absolutely amazing.

I am dating someone who is kind and smart and thoughtful and ambitious and hardworking and sweet and respectful and attractive and nerdy and who likes me more than I ever thought anyone would. I still can’t believe how lucky I am, because this is better than I thought it could ever get.

22 and Still Growing Up

Every day I am learning that there is a lot more I have to experience. And I’m not talking about big milestone like marriage and kids; those are too far off for me to even think about. I’m talking about relationships, career searching, and facing the reality of moving away for real – not just for college.

I’ve always been a late bloomer, but I think this is about more than just that.

I had my first “adult” job interview just the other day. When I woke up that morning I was suddenly filled with dread at the idea of moving to a big city all by myself. And I was a bit perplexed by my alarm.

I lived in England for 5 months, but I’m afraid to move four hours away? Yes! England was temporary, and I always knew that. And everything was arranged through a university, so I had loads of support. Moving away this time would not be the same. I wouldn’t be coming home at the end of the semester. I would be signing a lease, making a commitment, and doing it all on my own.

The interview itself actually went awesome. I bought myself a fabulous interview outfit and felt like I was ready to take on the world. I was invited back for a second interview, but I called them back and told them that I wasn’t interested because the job wasn’t a good fit.

Never in a million years did I think I would be turning down job offers, but I’m still 100% certain that it was the right decision. I’ve never really rejected anything like that. It was terrifying, but also empowering. Yes, I still have a dead-end job in a deli and live with my parents. But I’m closer to knowing what I want and knowing how to go after it.

So much for all my stress about moving to a new city! But it got me thinking about how hard it will be when I move away, and about how difficult it is to interview for jobs in a city four hours away from where I live. Am I really ready to take on a new job and a new city all at once? And does it even matter if I’m ready or not?

Later that same day, I had another wake up call. For the first time in my life a boy told me that he likes me. I know, welcome to the third grade, that’s what you’re probably thinking. But, even though I was anticipating it, I had an adrenaline rush like nothing I’d ever felt before. Thankfully, he did not tell me face-to-face but over the lovely internet (don’t judge, it’s a long distance thing) because I was shaking uncontrollably, my heart was about to explode, and my body temperature rose about six million degrees. It got me thinking, if this little thing feels so intense, what the hell is kissing going to feel like?! And I might just roll over and die the first time we… you know. If it ever comes to that.

I know, this whole post has been rather scatter-brained, and you’re probably thinking “get to the point already!” Well here’s my point: No matter how old you get there is more to be experienced. No one has been through it all. Any day could bring something new. “Growing up” isn’t something that happens up until you’re eighteen (or twenty-eight!) and then stops. Growing up takes a life-time. No one is ever really done growing up. And that’s probably one of the coolest parts of life.