In 2002 Steve had a one-year position with the Oregon Symphony. I was working steadily in Chicago, and didn’t want to jeopardize the network we had built up, so I stayed in town. We visited back and forth a few times, but I lived in my apartment and he lived in his, and it was fine. In some ways, I really enjoyed it.
I had never lived alone, after all. I had had a roommate in college, and had lived with Steve basically since we met. I found that I easily got used to eating, practicing, and sleeping on my own schedule, and I liked being able to walk into a room and see the book I had set down exactly where I expected it to be. I missed him, but I’m pretty self-sufficient. I got my work done, talked to him on the phone, and lived my life.
The challenging part was when Steve’s position ended and he came back home. Suddenly my apartment was our apartment again, and I had to relearn how to live hour to hour, day to day with another human being. Of course I loved him, but the crazy early-relationship excitement that had eased the original transition was no longer there, and it was hard for us to work out the difference in our lifestyles. Sometimes he was hungry and I wasn’t. Sometimes I wanted to cook and he hadn’t cleaned the kitchen from the last meal. Sometimes we ran out of things just because neither of us had realized how fast two people would use them.
We worked through it, obviously, and are great together now, but I don’t want to go through that again. Not for a year and not even for another week, not with Steve and certainly not with Zoe.
Since Steve’s father’s illness became very acute in October, he’s been traveling to Tennessee a lot. And now that he is working to probate the estate I anticipate many more long trips. He takes Zoe when he goes, as his family is happy to sit for her. I love my career, but it is simply the case that if I am not WHERE the work is, and DOING the work – the concerts, the reed-making, the teaching – I don’t get PAID for the work. Going on extended trips just to keep close to Zoe is not the best choice for our family, and she is in perfectly good safe hands. And she loves her Nana and her extended family.
But I hate this. I used to thrive on being alone, and I admit that for the first few hours with no baby in the house I sort of luxuriate in the quiet and the freedom and the possibilities. But I have no real tolerance for this anymore. I want my child with me, and I want to put her to bed at night, and take her for walks around the neighborhood, and catch all of the little developmental milestones that fascinate me. I don’t want us to grow out of the habit of each other, and to have to relearn our rituals each time.
While they are away, I am maximizing my time with ruthless efficiency. Practicing, exercising, reading and studying. Working on venues for my spring programs. Cleaning the house and running bags to Goodwill. Eating healthy meals and missing little girl’s demands like crazy. This has been a long, hard fall, and I’m hoping right now for a short week, and the safe return of my family, and a general return to normalcy.