I know what’s gonna kill us, T.E. and I. It’s not the age difference. It’s not the time apart. It’s not the challenges of being monogamous from far away.
It’s the time zones.
Frankly the people who put the places where they went couldn’t have put our two places – west-coast US and London – in worse places. We’re exactly 8 hours apart. In other words, I’m going to bed about just as he’s getting up. I’m getting off of work right as he’s crashing. And the 16 hours where he’s up and doing stuff and awake and cognizant and not sleeping and available for a lovely conversation and UP? I’m sleeping. Or working. Sleeping and working. Neither of these things are conducive to lovely conversation. They’re conducive… well, mostly to sleeping. Or possibly working. And not conversating.
For the first year I would come home from work and T.E. would be there, waiting for me. Often it would be past 1am for him, but he would stay up just to talk to me, sometimes for hours! At the beginning he told me that he’s always been a late-night kind of guy, he’d be up anyway, it was cool, etc., and I totally believed him and didn’t think much of it. He had less time commitments, being out of school for that time, so he could sleep in if he needed to and I let that be the rationale that we had a totally workable situation.
Jump ahead to the summer after he left here, headed back to London to get ready for starting at the University. He took advantage of wicked-nasty jetlag to switch around the schedule. He started getting up at 7am for us to talk, thinking that he’d need to adjust his timing for classes. He figured once he got to Uni the world would expect him to be at specific places. At specific times. Specifically non-noon times, and so day after day, even though he still didn’t need to, he went to bed relatively early and got up at 7am. We’d talk for about 90 minutes, then I’d hit the sack and he’d go on with his day. I was sort of amazed how well he stuck to this timing, especially since he really hates mornings just like I do.
I, on the other hand, struggled to stay up and alert night after night, except for all of those times when I fell asleep. Nothing says “you’re important to me, and all those nights when you stayed up way, WAY later than this to talk to me really mean a lot.” like a long, resounding snore. I realized at that point that I’d never given him the credit he deserves for sacrificing so this crazy relationship could keep going.
Finally he started at University and got those dreaded early-morning class schedules he had been preparing for. And get this, people: they have scheduled him for classes as early as 11AM! What are they, BARBARIANS? LUTHERANS EVEN? (or was it Presbyterians – what’s the religion that says “thou shalt get up before noon, but only just barely…”?) All his prep for having to get up so early was for naught, and within a week the stress on his system from the early mornings was showing itself pretty clearly.
So THEN we tried the afternoons again, but that didn’t work much better. Seems no matter what time we can connect it’s always a time where he’s tired, either because he’s getting up or settling down. And I hate to be that thing that makes him tired, know what I mean?
We’re trying something new tomorrow: I’m going to wake up at 4:30am so we can talk about 12:30pm for him. The Queen immediately saw the flaw in this plan – she asked me “and you’re going to bed at 10:30pm?” I found it so cute that she would give me such undeserved credit; I think we all know the odds of me getting to sleep earlier than my normal time of roughly midnight are pretty slim. Or possibly none. So tomorrow it’s going to be my turn to be tired.
I have faith in us and our desire to make it work. We’ve just finished mapping out the dates for his trip here for the holidays – we clearly know how to dedicate ourselves to this. But I’m also very aware of the problem we have before us: how to keep our connection and our sanity. For the record, if I have to pick from those two I pick us. Here’s hoping he does too.