Thursday, December 3, 2009
One problem about being an older student is that you tend to accumulate attachments. Those attachments can be problematic when you’re going away to grad school. I’ve already mentioned one attachment in passing: all that stuff I had to put into storage. But I had another attachment… my sweetie. We had the common academic 2-body problem. My sweetie had other attachments and wasn’t able to follow me to grad school. So we spent grad school 500+ miles apart. How did that work out? I’ll start by describing how our first day apart went. We stuffed everything we could (including my sweetie) in my car. Everything else went into storage. And we trundled off to grad school. After moving me in and meeting the roommates, I dropped off my sweetie at the airport. I had sort of a hard time saying goodbye, but I managed ok. Then I got into my car and had this massive “WTF did I just do” moment. I spent about 15 minutes bawling my eyes out in the airport parking garage. Eventually I pulled myself together, drove out to the highway, and proceeded to cry the entire drive home. Things did get better after that. We had schedule issues, so we only talked about twice per week on the phone. Schedule and financial considerations meant we only saw each other in person about every 3 months. But we kept up a daily e-mail correspondence. By the end of grad school, I had compressed, printed out (2 sides/page) and compiled everything into a 2-inch binder. Now we have a permanent record of our time apart. So, we did survive as a couple. But I’m not going to sugar coat it – it was not easy. I know other academic couples who have lived further apart, seen each other less often, and spent a longer time apart. But 2+ years was pretty much at my limit – I got decidedly clingy and each separation got worse. I’m definitely glad we’re now living less than 50 miles apart.