Heather managed to snag a job at a great company on the other side of town. She started her training last month, and I couldn’t be more proud of her for making the cut after months of resumes and applications, hope and patience.
While it makes sense for her to start working, I’ve been forced to deal with an unsettling void in the house — like the deafening silence of a blackout, when the electronic hums and glows cease to provide their perpetual company. We never spent more than an hour apart before this, when she might have stepped out to grab some groceries or a prescription1; nearly two years where we couldn’t help but be closely in tune with each other’s needs and moods. Now, it feels like we barely have a chance to get our dailies with a bit of extra content before it’s time for bed.
Losing so much of each other has been a difficult adjustment. I wasn’t ready for this. It wasn’t a decision I made. I’m not use to being so alone, or even taking care of myself, for that matter2. When she’s away, the void makes it painfully clear how much I surrounded myself with her. I can’t even write without mentioning her, cause there’s rarely a decision I make without considering her first, whether it’s how we’re going to spend our time or what I’m going to say next.
It’s a difficult reminder of many years spent without a partner or parent to rely on. I’ve been trying to reclaim my independence by picking up small responsibilities. Something as simple as making my space more comfortable, whether it’s a thorough cleaning or new lighting arrangement, turns into a chance to succeed and feel accomplished. Even games become little projects, ways of exercising my creativity or keeping myself sharp.
I knew Heather would eventually be working, and I’d be alone. Now the day has come, and I’m constantly wondering: who am I when I’m by myself? What do I do to fill the hours that she’s away?
At least it’s given me a chance to write again. The break hasn’t been entirely intentional. Part of it is the fact that writing takes energy, and I rarely have any to spare when I’m trying so hard just to feel okay. Another part is the fact that I haven’t needed this in the same way since I met her. She’s become an important outlet, one who always makes herself available to me. There hasn’t been the same longing to write, cause I haven’t needed to vent, or sort out my thoughts, or feel validated.
Nevertheless, this period of emptiness has become a chapter in itself. A change that will be a great deal of the rest of our lives. I’m stuck here, while the days stretch out before me with endless possibility. The hard part is finally stumbling into the life I’ve always wanted, finding a partner who fills in my gaps in all the right ways, but not being ready for it all.
- Aside from a few days she spent visiting her family last year. It was the first significant amount of time we were away from each other since we met, and I had a panic attack before she was out of the city. [↩]
- She still handles the meals, and has a system where most things are done in the slow cooker; all I need to do is pour the contents of a bag into the pot and turn it on at a certain time, although, some days, even this can slip my mind. [↩]