Guten Tag, liebe LeserInnen, and happy New Year! After 17 days in the US, and a bit of a blogging break, I am happy to report that I am back in Damme, alive and mostly well. Once I have finally conquered jet lag, I will better.
Though I’m glad to be back, it was not easy to leave. In fact, it was gut-wrenching. After spending some (not enough) time with friends and family in Blacksburg and Pennsylvania, I admit that I did not want to leave again. I am used to not seeing folks in Pennsylvania between January and July, but I am used to spending that time with George. I feel so fortunate to have had November 22 – January 2 with him, but saying goodbye a second time… well, it was one of the worst experiences ever.
I feel lucky to have had so much time with George, but I am also glad that we finally got back in sync while we were at home. I also learned a few things about him, about me and about us as I started to pack/sob uncontrollably. First of all, I am not easy to live with. By that, I don’t just mean that I never vacuum and leave stacks of clean laundry around the bedroom instead of putting it away. What I’m referring to is that having me in your life means inviting a certain number of complications into your life as well. I like to argue, I often speak without thinking, and I talk WAY too much. I also have channel-surfer syndrome: I constantly think that everything else must be better than whatever it is I’m currently doing. If you happen to be my spouse, this means I might need to leave you to spend a year on another continent, making your daily life a little more lonely and a little more difficult. None of this may be surprising to those of you who have lived with me, but it had never occurred to me before that I could be difficult.
The second thing I learned was what it really means to love someone for who he or she is. I had always reduced this idea to loving someone enough to ignore his or her distinct catalog of flaws, e.g. snoring, sleeping in mesh shorts, and being bossy. I now realize that it means loving someone enough to endure, and even support, the complications you add to his or her life. What’s important is finding someone with the same level of complication-tolerance as you. If you can love and support your spouse while he does his PhD, and he can love and support you while you chase your dream across an ocean, you’re in luck. George doesn’t just tolerate my being away; he supports my dream. On the night before my flight, I told him I didn’t want to go. He said, “If you don’t, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”
He was right.
I don’t know if I would’ve had these realizations had I never come here. I am reminded once again that leaving your comfort zone and testing your limits always offers an opportunity for self-discovery. However, I have also learned to appreciate the excellent comfort zone I have even more.