I made sure to keep myself and The Cat on our side though.
The next morning when he said, “I love you, Tracey,” before he left for work, I rolled away from him and didn’t respond.
Which is something I promised myself I would never, ever do.
At around noon, I got up. I felt thoroughly depleted. I honestly I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I got back to the never-ending list of things I needed to handle.
That afternoon my friend Veronica from Portland happened to text me. “How are you doing?” she asked.
I didn’t have the energy to lie anymore. So I wrote back how overwhelmed I was, how much I had to do, and basically everything I’ve already listed so I won’t go into it again. But then I wrote, “And on top of all that, just the adjustment of living together…”
And as I wrote those words, something inside me shifted.
I sat back in my desk chair and thought back on earlier in the day – how I’d been trying to navigate the (very) confusing California health insurance system because I’d lost mine when I my company had shut down. Each website I went to would ask a series of five questions.
“Have you,” they’d asked, “Had any of the following five major life-changing events occur in the last year?”
Have you lost a job?
Gotten a divorce?
Lost a parent?
Had a baby?
Holy crap. I’d had had three out of five. And not in the course of a year, as specified, but in the past three months. All I had left to go was to have a baby and get a divorce.
And as I wrote to Veronica about the struggles of My Boyfriend and I living together, I thought back on those questions, and my heart suddenly broke for us. Not for me, not for him. But for us. For our relationship.
When he arrived home from work that night, I asked him to sit with me on the patio. I took his hand and tried to explain what I’d discovered.
But first things first.
“Um, I’m sorry I broke your glasses,” I said.
“It’s okay,” he replied.
“No, it isn’t. And I’m really so sorry.”
“Well yeah, they were kind of my favorites.”
“I know, and I’ll try to find them online and replace them.”
“Okay, thank you.”
I took a deep breath. “And I’m sorry for last night.”
I continued. “The thing is…I thought about it today and the thing is, even if we had lived in the same city and just moved in together – that would have been huge in itself. Or even if it was that and just one of these other things, that would have been challenging…but we’ve had so many other things piled one on top of the other…it’s just…just so much, too much. This was supposed to be our honeymoon period and it was taken from us, which is horrible. I guess what I’m trying to say is, let’s try to have compassion for our relationship. Some sympathy. For what we’re going through. It’s really an unique and difficult situation.”
“It is,” he said.
“I don’t want you to give up on me, to give up on us,” I said and then I started crying.
He squeezed my hand. “Listen Tracey, in our life together we are going to have a lot of challenges. I was prepared for that when we decided to do this. I don’t know what the future holds, and things can always be worse, but I’m pretty sure this period is one of the tougher we’re going to face. I have no intention of giving up on you or us. You are my future, Tracey. No matter what comes our way. I love you.”
“Thank you,” was all I could think of to say.
“I’m here for the long haul, baby.” He pulled me to him and hugged me tightly.”Now,” he said as he pulled back. “How about I grill up some burgers for us?”
“Okay,” I said, wiping my eyes. “I’ll slice up the cheese.”
He stood up and kissed me on the forehead. “That’s my girl.”