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Entry date: 8-5-2023 – Another Lonely Milestone (of sorts) – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

Being 2800 (and some change) miles away from your wife on your anniversary is hard. There was no rolling over and patting her shoulder this morning and saying, “I love you.” That will have to be done over the phone.

Even the gift I ordered for her didn’t get there in time. When I realized that last night, I felt even a bit more detached. I ordered it over a week ago thinking that was plenty of time. Rural Maine is not on UPS’s priority list, I guess.

The majority of people that I talk to about the nature of my marriage these days, with Rhondi in Maine for five or six months a year, get this look on their face that does not always match the words that come out of their mouths. It’s the flash of them thinking about being away from their partner/spouse/whatever you want to call people you love and live with for that long and it’s not a good flash. It’s often a split second of “Oh, fuck, how do you do that?”

Well, you just learn how to do that. As I look back at these last three summers, I can see some of the lessons this way of being married has taught me. It’s kind of eye opening, too.

The first summer, 2021, was a shock to the system when she and Doug and the kids left for Maine. It was only about three weeks before we were reunited, but it seemed like a lot longer. It was the longest we had been apart, unless you count the thirty-six years I was alive before meeting Rhondi.

I didn’t know what to do with myself or how to be alone. I drank a lot and fell asleep with the TV on every night until it was time to head northeast in the car and be reunited. When Rhondi is home, you see, I have no problem falling asleep, much to her chagrin. She gets hit with insomnia fairly often and here I am just snoozing away two seconds after my head hits the pillow.

What she might realize now, I hope, is that I can relax that easily because she is laying next to me. That’s my comfort zone. I wish I had the same effect on her, but I think it works a little differently in her brain. I don’t mean that in a negative way, either, but I wish I could give her that gift.

That year, we talked every morning and every night, of course, and they were really good talks. I was so happy to hear her voice and hear about what they were doing, and Rhondi liked hearing about my days, as well. Our communication grew exponentially in just a few weeks.

This was the first lesson we learned on how to be separated from each other for so long. You have to talk when you can. We established a pattern of me calling when I woke up and her calling before she goes to bed. With the time difference, I get to interrupt her morning at work, and she gets me on my way home a lot of days.

A pattern like this can be good for a marriage. It definitely helped me realize that I kind of suck at communication here at home. Part of this could be that I talk all day at work. When I get home, sometimes the last thing I want to do is talk or work together to solve a problem, make a plan, whatever. This sucks for Rhondi because she likes to talk through things and solve shit and make plans.

We made time, though, twice each day to talk for as long as we could. Sometimes these were short conversations for one reason or another, but most of the calls were substantial enough to almost make it feel like she was here with me. As I type this now, I am looking forward to hearing her voice on the other end of the line soon.

That first year, though, I could only stay in Maine until mid-July. I had to back in Phoenix for work and Rhondi and Doug were not getting back until mid-November. I was staring down the barrel of four months away from her. I remember thinking that the first three weeks before I got to Maine were hard enough. How could I do four months?

I drank a lot. I focused on work, and we started playing music again. I also focused on those two phone calls a day that we would have. I counted the days down in my head and even though I was busy with finishing up my M.Ed and teaching second grade for the first time, it was hard. I was living that flash of “oh fuck, how do you do that” every day.

One thing I often complain about to Rhondi is that she is a bed hog. She likes to spread out and as much as I like to give her a hard time about it, I’d still rather have her here next to me taking up 70% of the bed, than have her 2800 (and some change) miles away. Last night, like every night I’ve slept alone in the last three years, I stayed in my 30%. Habits, I suppose.

The summer of 2022 was a bit easier. I got to spend a longer time in Maine, which was awesome, and we fell back into the pattern of communicating every day with that same purpose of, I suppose, getting what we needed from each other with just our voices. Now, don’t go all x-rated on me. I’m not talking about phone sex. I’m talking about the emotional side.

After getting home from Maine, we only had about a three-month separation. It was easier on a few levels as I was teaching online during that time, and I could easily get the kids to and from school most days but being home all day alone just made me miss her more. Both 2021 and 2022, when it came time to go back in October and get the car and the dog (I miss Bailey, too, of course), I had to hold back tears when I saw her.

This year was hard. I decided to teach summer school and that meant that we would be apart for over a month at the front end and then just under three months on the back end. One thing that is a little different this year is that it just seems like the way we do life now. I can’t say I like it, but I have accepted it and it helps that we have a routine down.

I guess we are on the 8 and 4 plan. Eight months together and four months apart. Oddly, I feel closer to her in many ways than ever, even though we are far apart. I can’t quite explain why. I mean, I miss Rhondi every day when we are apart, but there is a balance there that helps lessen the pain.

I know that what she is doing is a good thing, helping her dad, for one. It’s awesome that they get to spend this time together and even though they bicker a little, here and there, it makes my heart happy to know she is doing what she can do to make his life a little easier, hopefully. I know it is fulfilling for her.

I also love, and I write this missing her right now, that she gets to have a very lovely life while in Maine. I know she misses me and the kids and our friends, but the quality of life she has while there is really fucking good. The air is clean, the water is amazing to drink because it’s so darn tasty, and Maine in the fall is beautiful. Who wouldn’t want that for someone they love?

I guess I had a lot to say today. Maybe just “Happy anniversary, babe” would have sufficed, I don’t know. I realize now that one of the things that has helped me stay sane the last three years is writing this stuff down. If you made it this far, I commend you and thank you for letting me share.

Here’s to seventeen years, Rhondi. We’ve experienced so much of what life has to offer. You’ve taught me so much and I hope I’ve been able to enrich your life as well.

I can’t wait until October.

I love you.

See you tomorrow (I wish).

PS..I didn't realize until now that the title of this blog sounds like a lost Smiths song.

Probably not the greatest picture, but I love it. Humidity hair for the win! It's also a reminder to not drink two 24oz IPAs before going on the Stephen King tour. Many thanks to our humble guide for not making a big deal out of me slipping over to a tree and getting it drunk.

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