I was driving by myself in to work today for a change (Brendan's got an appointment at home), and I happened to turn to this song on my iPod:
It's a nice song on its own, but it has special meaning for me: the day I graduated college and was about to leave for home, Brendan gave me a CD full of songs that he'd picked out. Some were silly and some were serious, but most were about leaving, new chapters in our lives, and moving on. I realize now - and perhaps realized then - that after two and a half years of dating, he didn't really expect to see me again. He thought I would move to Philadelphia, my life would change, and I would find someone new. I actually spent most of that summer, while I was doing a summer lab rotation in D.C., driving to work listening to that album - and probably crying at least once per commute, thinking about how much I missed him and how scared I was for things to change.
If I'm being honest here, I had the same thoughts as he did when I left college. I loved him very much, but we had, in effect, had a long-distance relationship even when I was in Boston. He worked full time and barely had time to see me, and my college schedule was pretty full, which led to us seeing each other for dinner or a movie once every 1-2 weeks. When I left, we'd probably spent the equivalent of a month together, if you add up all the time we saw each other. I didn't know if we could last the time apart, but I knew I had to choose to go to grad school somewhere great rather than staying in Boston.
(Commencement Ball, right before I left Boston)
The first few months away were really rough, and we didn't see each other near enough. But something changed in the middle of my first year in grad school. I finally came to see that he was committed and loved me, and we finally began to put effort into keeping the relationship going while we were apart. Things weren't easy, of course, and we had plenty of arguments about how often we could talk to each other, see each other, etc. But we managed to have a lot of fun together and see each other as often as possible. We aren't always the greatest communicators, especially with each other, but I credit open communication for keeping us together over the five years I lived in Philly. Without honesty and talking often, we wouldn't have made it.
My realization, in the car this morning, is that I finally have what I've been waiting for for so long. Even when we were dating when I was in college, I was waiting for us to have a chance at a real relationship - and now we finally have the chance to be together, wake up to each other every morning, and have the full presence of each other in our lives.
This past week or two, I have been a ball of stress. I've been worried about my new postdoc job, scared that it's going to be too intense for me. I've been worried about how things will turn out with our relationship, and when we will get married and have kids. I tend to stress a lot about the future, but this morning I definitely had a moment of appreciation of the present. I am finally here, at home with my best friend and sweetheart, and we get to have a life together.
Brendan, if you are reading this, I am so happy to finally be here. I know that we haven't really felt like things are much different than they were before - but that is a testament to the fact that we've managed to keep this relationship strong and grow together over our time apart. Coming here to be with you felt like coming home, and I am so, so grateful for the chance to come home after all these years.