16 March 2012

A Romantic Lullaby

Today's prompt is: talk about a memory triggered by a particular song, or, what's the story of the most difficult challenge you've faced in a relationship? Did you overcome it? What was the outcome?

It started with a friendship formed over the most unlikely of books. With each other, we felt comfortable enough to be ourselves. But he was there and I was here and life seemed to be ensuring that friends we would stay. And so we did, for several years, until the night that I finally realized just what we really were

Within just a few weeks of that realization, we were official. Our mothers were asking as many questions as they dared, because they knew, as mothers do, that this was different. Over phone calls and emails and plane rides between D.C. and Chicago, we fell in love. 

I may be scattered

It was a long distance relationship, sure, with the usual hardships of falling in love while in different time zones. What made our romance even more bittersweet was the fact that it started with an expiration date, and we both knew it. But we both fell in too far, too deep for it to just be a casual fling. A mere seven months after that first kiss, we were standing, sticky in the June heat of a D.C. summer, on a train platform kissing good bye for the last time. No more D.C. to Chicago romance. He was off to conquer the world, or, at least, do his best to further U.S. relationships with the Republic of Georgia for a two year stint in the Peace Corps. After the final kiss, I stood, waiting for my train to work, crying and cursing myself for so enthusiastically encouraging him to join the Peace Corps all those years ago in the early days of our friendship.

A little shattered

We both tried so hard to be brave for the other, thinking it was best to let each other go. I came home from work that night and found a letter my bestie/roommate had left for me on top of a pint of Haggen-Daz in the freezer. 
It's gonna be fine.
You know in your heart, and he knows in his heart, that this isn't over. The kind of feeling you have doesn't stop because you tell it to.
Just accept that and don't worry about the words. You don't have to acknowledge it for it to be true.
Let him go. We all know he'll come back.
Don't cry because it's over. Cry because he's far away that that's hard, to have the man you love be far away. It hurts. 
But it's gonna be fine. I promise.

And so for a long, hot, sticky D.C. summer, I tried to let him go. I tried hard to remember that life works out the way it is meant to, not the way we want it to.

What does it matter

But then Georgia went to war with Russia, and suddenly, I spent a weekend without sleep, worrying. Worrying that he was safe. Worrying that the planned evacuation would go smoothly. Worrying that he'd go back to Georgia. Worrying that his dreams wouldn't come true. Worrying that he'd come home. Worrying that he'd go somewhere new. And then I really realized what I hadn't actually put into words during our whirlwind romance or the summer of letting go...

No one has a fit like I do

So while he waited for an official Peace Corps decision, I put my heart in my hand, wrote what I felt, and sent it into cyberspace to his temporary refuge in Armenia. And for a very long day, I did my damnedest not to check my emails or let my mind wander. 

I'm the only one that fits you

Technology is a wonderful thing. Despite his status as a refugee in rural Armenia, and my decidedly not-refugee status in D.C., we were able to finally have the true heart-to-heart that we should have had before he left. Hearts were laid bare on the table. No words went unspoken. And at the end of that very long conversation, despite concerns over how the day-to-day would go, despite exit clauses written in just in case, we were together again. 

Whispering to pass the time

He transferred to the Peace Corps in Albania. I stayed in D.C. And for two years, we adjusted our schedules (he stayed up late, I worked early hours) and pushed the limits of long-distance relationship creativity. We whispered on Skype about how much we loved each other, and how much we missed each other, and how we couldn't wait for my next trip to Albania so we could snuggle and kiss and be together. 

Whisper for the days gone by

In the early days of that extreme long-distance courtship, we talked mostly of the dates we'd already had. The sweet memories of dancing together in so many places. The laughter we shared. The way we fell in love with each other. We shared the little things about each other that we'd fallen for. 

Whisper with the voice inside of you

Then slowly, but surely, as we both grew more confident that we had the right to dream of a future together, we began dreaming. We dreamt of puppies, and grad school, and where we'd live, together, without a plane ride between us. We watched movies together on Skype, shared stories of our days, played games online, and we dreamed. 

With this ring you will be mine

And two years later, on another sticky hot summer day, we stood together in Chicago, and accepted the key ring to our little love nest. We've learned all about each other. We know each other's likes and dislikes, the way we prefer to sleep every night, and which kisses work and which kisses tickle. 

With this ring I'll multiply

And now, here we are, two years later, Katie and Joe, Joe and Katie, planning and dreaming of a future together. There will be more moves on the horizon, but always together....no more of this plane ride/time zone/ocean apart nonsense. And really, as hard as it was, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

With this ring surrendering to you

Because we really got to know each other. We got to chase our individual dreams. Now we get to share our dreams and support each other. And as I learn every single day, it really is possible to grow even more in love with each other. We're the lucky ones. We listened to the lullaby our hearts knew all along. 

All lyrics from the Foo Fighter's Disenchanted Lullaby
A song Joe once put on a mixed cd for me in the early days of that whirlwind romance. 


Kim said...

Katie, this is SO wonderful. And you used BOTH of the prompts at once! I'm blown away :)

As the veteran of several long-distance relationships in my time, I KNOW how much work they take. But the best part of them is what you've showed here--that you get to really know each other and that you learn to work hard for what you want. Wonderful, wonderful post.

KT Mac said...

Thank you, Kim! And thank you for organizing such a wonderful project...it's really been helpful in helping me find my voice again.

LDRs are definitely hard, but I've found that with the right man, for the right love, it really is absolutely worth it. :)