This afternoon, I had a moment.
You see, D was supposed to come down to see me tonight. Not for anything special, but, for various and boring reasons, the next 36 hours are just about the only window we’ve got together this week.
And at about 3:00 pm, the exact time that D had told me he’d plan on heading down, he called.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“In Santa Fe,” he said. “I was about to leave, but I just got a call from work. I need to go back. There’s a fire.”
(Don’t ask me why a fireman not on his shift has to go fight a fire when there are lots of other firemen who are on their shifts; unknown. You may, however, ask if this has anything to do with the Arizona/New Mexico wildfires being heavily (mis)reported in the national news: it doesn’t.)
Anyhow, I broke down. Like, sat at my desk and pretended to have sniffles as tears formed in my eyes.
Why did I do this? Out of fear that my boyfriend might injure himself or die in a fire? Out of concern for the safety of someone about whom I deeply care?
Unfortunately, it was nothing that rational.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure why. But I do know that, for starters, it’s been a rough week. I’ve been feeling more fragile than usual. These past couple of days, I’ve craved D’s support and affection, and he hasn’t been here. I was looking forward to having him close.
But is that really something to cry about? I want D’s support, sure, but his arms are not the only place I can find it. I have no shortage of friends and family, far and near, to talk me down from various ledges of anxiety and insecurity and stress.
Sure, there’s nothing quite like the comfort of a romantic partner. But in that moment, staring at my computer screen, sniffling, and thinking of all the people I know who live states and continents away from their significant others, I felt the need to remind myself to take a step back.
Specifically, I felt the need to recall the advice of another guy I know with the initial D: this one among my closest DC friends who now lives in Boston (can we call him Boston D, for the moment?) and is very, very wise.
Early on in my relationship with D, Boston D had cautioned me about keeping some distance: about not letting myself get too tightly wound up in something just because it was good. Or something. This afternoon, walking B in what felt like 100 degree heat to to the dry cleaner, I couldn’t really remember.
So I called him.
“Do you remember what advice it was that you gave me? Something about not letting things get too close, with D? You might have said it came from Oprah?”
“Um, I have no idea,” he replied. “Did it have to do with posture? I’m always talking about posture.”
“No,” I told him, recounting what I could. “It definitely was not about posture.”
“Sorry,” he said. “Can’t remember.”
Fortunately, after listening to his own romantic dilemmas, along with some fresh wisdom (“Go cuddle with someone tonight.” “See the Woody Allen movie.”), I realized that Boston D had dispensed his initial advice over Gchat.
Alas, I searched. And there it was:
“Just dont hold hold too tight,” he had written. “I mean, don’t squeeze the relationship. Let it breathe. I think when we have something we love we want to hold it super close and tight and sometimes its good to just release the pressure and let it exist on its own.”
Words that, to be honest, didn’t make total sense to me when I first read them, and aren’t entirely clear now. (For the record, he did punctuate them with this, overly modest, qualification: “Sorry, I can only come up with generic Oprah-esque language right now.”) But I do think there’s an insight there, and it’s one that, right now, is helping me get through.
Basically, that one person can’t be everything. They can be a lot of things, a lot of wonderful and important and invaluable things. But we need other people, too. We need other people for lots of reasons, including this one: as precious as partners might be, they simply can’t always be there when we want them to be. Whether we like it or not.