Sunday, January 23, 2011

On not being there

It probably hasn't escaped you that I was not with D$ for his dissertation defense nor his becoming-a-doctorness. In fact I was halfway across the country and not even at my desk to receive his excited phone call. This is clearly shitty-partner fodder, right? Maybe, maybe not.

I really, really wanted to go to Minnesota for D$'s defense, but it was D$ who basically insisted that I not go.

Here's how I felt about it: Getting your PhD is a huge fucking deal and something that one's spouse should be around for. D worked his ass off, supported me in my endeavors and got his PhD and got a job in my hometown. Oh, and he's 26 years old.* So it was important to me that I be there for him and show my support.

D$'s opinion was more like this: He was not happy in his PhD program. He is mostly just happy to be done, and I wouldn't understand his defense anyway.** He knows I support him and would much rather save the money on a plane ticket for the two of us to go on vacation somewhere.

D$ won out because it was his achievement and his choice.*** We left it at that. Then, the night before he left, balking at the prospect of spending a month apart, D said he wanted me to come to Minnesota after all. I avoided the urge to hit him over the head with a pillow and scream i fucking told you so why wouldn't you let me buy a ticket when they were cheap aradsfasdfasdfoasidgasd!!  At that point it was too late as tickets were too expensive.

So I wasn't there. I am also not there as he visits his family across the south and mourns the death of his grandmother. I am not there as he drives across the country tomorrow, and I will not be there when he visits his sister in California.

I am missing a lot of things this month. I know it was his choice. I know that D$ does things on his own and always has. I also know that it still stinks.

*I know, a baby. He will be 27 soon, but still. I am 28. Also, fun fact: Einstein got his PhD at 26!
**That is totally true. 
***I was also sort of worried that if I went then I would somehow make the event about me, which I really, really didn't want do to. 


  1. You know, in the same way that there is joy in experiencing grief and happiness together, there is joy in experiencing it alone. I think that it makes one grateful for what they have and the reunion of homecoming that much more amazing.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. A few things strike me here, MWK:

    1. Paraphrasing a poem: Sometimes we act in no particular way but our own. What I think about your not being there doesn't matter at all. What you think and what (Dr.!)D$ thinks are all the thoughts that matter.

    2. The last sentences of your post are awesome:
    "I know it was his choice. I know that D$ does things on his own and always has. I also know that it still stinks."

    You know your partner really well and while you may think differently, you realize that choices are not yours alone to make. I struggle with that and I admire that you seem to do it well.

    3. I'm far from writing my dissertation at this point, but from what I know of the process, the writing is the real trudge. Being there for that is a big freakin' deal, too.

    All that said, I'm sorry this all sucks a bit. Hang in there.

  4. I hate missing things, too. Even things I don't have a hope of understanding. But, at least you get to be there for the loads and loads of celebrating! I'm sure the transition to Dr. D$ is excuse to celebrate for at least a year. ;) And a PhD at 26? I bow down to the brilliance! Bravo!

  5. Thanks ladies. Jessica and Pirate, you are both right. I do think that there it is important to experience things alone, and D$ really works that way. It can make me feel left out - which is totally unhelpful to him - so I think it is good that he has the time to process without me asking, "But how do you FEEEEEEL" every ten seconds. And of course it doesn't matter what other people think. At some point i will understand that.
    @thebluemuse: don't worry. Surprise party already in planning stages.

  6. Oh dear lord, I feel you with the last minute changes of mind.

    It sounds hard, what you're going through. Wanting to be there through that, but not being able to. When my father was ill and I flew home to spend time with him, the Boy offered to come, but I told him no. It was impractical and expensive and much more of an inconvenience to his job than it was to mine. And even though I know he missed being there for me, and even though it was hard flying home alone and terrified about what I would find on arrival, and basically sobbing the entire way there (I'm sorry other passengers for spoiling your flight!), it was actually amazing to spend that time alone with my family in the end.

    Of course, it's different. That was 2 weeks, and he came out to spend the (planned well in advance) celebratory last week there with me. And doing things on our own isn't habitual for either of us. (Despite, you know, living apart for the last 6 months and the forseeable future.) But in some way he might need this.

    And if nothing else, it sounds like he might come back with a sense of just how much he'd have preferred to make that journey with you alongside.