Not too terribly long ago, I channeled my inner Gryffindor (RIP JK Rowling), and boarded a plane during a pandemic and flew to the midwest. After quarantining in Indiana, I made my way up to Michigan for my best friend’s wedding. Following my two weeks there, I went back down to Indiana to hang out with my friend after her surgery. In total, I was away from Nicholas for approximately one month.
Since we’ve been married, this is the longest period of time we’ve ever spent apart from one another. It was difficult, but my ability to stay present borders on a lack of emotional permanence. This is a phrase I hope you’ll remember as I’d really like to talk about it more in the future. However, despite my above average ability to appreciate where I’m at in the moment, I still missed Nicholas. I longed for his touch, for his soothing presence, for the familiarity of our routine.
This hollowness left behind by his absence was partially filled by the pleasure of being with my friends and family. That’s the hard part about being on the road – it’s just us. And even more frequently, due to Nicholas’ 48-60 hour work weeks, it’s just me. Over the course of the past two plus years of this lifestyle, I’ve grown accustomed to the isolation. So much so that my life felt vaguely unchanged when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. I stopped going to bookstores, thrift shops, and the gym. I wore a mask when I had to go to the doctor or very seldom pick up groceries because I didn’t get them delivered. Other than that, and the vague increase in my health anxiety, I was just as alone as always. Other people asked me, “Is this what it’s like for you all the time?” And I told them, yep. You get used to it. You might go a little batshit first if you’re anything like me, but you get used to it.
And overall, I am used to it. But that month-long taste of socialization, of some semblance of normalcy, was a flavor I haven’t quickly forgotten. At first, when I left, I ached for it. It’s been over a month now and I’ve more or less settled back into my quiet days at the computer, briefly punctuated by online gaming with friends. I pray this longing quickly falls dormant. But even in its unconscious state, I know this craving for an in-person social circle to support me will never go away.
It was so severe at one point, this desire to be with my friends and settle down – stop packing up all of my shit every few months, try to find a new place to live, get back into my routine of after having it utterly interrupted – that I even looked into getting a place in Grand Rapids where I would live while Nicholas continued traveling on the road. Financially, even if I worked, it wasn’t a great idea. But a month of being away from my partner also clearly illustrated that as emotionally stable as I may be now compared to, well, ever, I still tolerate that absence very poorly. My body’s version of the biological clock ticking louder is a libido that would put my teenage horniness to fucking shame, and I can barely function without a regular schedule of partnered sex.
Plus, for all of the struggles of traveling, I do still find joy in it. Even now in a scary COVID-ridden world, I love exploring new arboretums and parks. It’s hard to beat a long drive in an unfamiliar yet beautiful countryside. Going on adventures with Nicholas, like walking hand-in-hand into the Pacific Ocean, fill my cup.
So for now, I’m torn between two desires. My ideal life would be some combination of my love, my friends, my family, my home, my routine, punctuated by adventure and travel at least once a year if not more. This isn’t the life that I have just yet but I’ll keep working towards it. After I pass my Information Systems CLEP, I’ll have just five exams in between me and my associate degree. Whether or not I’ll do anything else with it other than feel delightfully accomplished in its completion is yet to be seen. It opens the option towards a bachelor’s degree. I’m approximately 15,000 words away from my novel’s second draft goal, at which point with just a polish here or there, it’ll be ready for its first batch of alpha readers. If I’m completely honest, I don’t expect this novel to get published – not first, anyway. The fact that it’s supposed to be the first of three novels means three times the amount of risk for a publishing company. It’s likely that in the meantime of me attempting to connect with a literary agent and letting my readers pick apart my heart and soul, that I’ll write another novel. A one-shot story. I have many, many ideas. The ideas are the easy part. It’s the sitting down and forcing yourself to write long after the initial spark of inspiration has grown cold and turned to ash that’s hard.
All along this path, I’ll write here. I hope you all will be cheering me on. And with a little luck, someday we’ll get to connect. Until this fucking pandemic is no longer a threat, and my lifestyle still keeps me in an unpredictable place, I hope that our digital connection will suffice. It helps me remember I’m not alone, at least.