Doing anything long distance sucks. Long distance phone calls = expensive. Trying to negotiate a return on your mac from a guy in India= awful. Understanding Iraqi culture and mentality from American soil= catastrophic.
Long distance relationships fall right into that category. However, sometimes a little bit of distance is a good thing…
Kelley came into the bar alone, wearing the requisite midtown suit and tie, glasses, and that weary look on his face that says: Give me a cold beer immediately.
As I am the bartender, I obliged him with a cold glass of Sam Adams and asked him where he was from. “Chicago,” he said, with a warm and trusting smile that was definitely more from the MidWest than New York. “I’m here on work,” he continued.
I smiled back. I wondered if he had a wife back home in Chicago. I looked at his ring finger- Yup.
As I washed a pint glass to prepare for the next customer, I thought to myself, that must be hard, leaving your spouse all the time.
When the bar started to clear out and I had some time to talk to him further, I struck up a conversation with Kelley.
“So what’s it like?” I asked, as casually as possible. “Is traveling for work hard?”
Kelley explained that he only had to work two days out of the week in New York, the rest he spent at home in Chicago.
“Do you have kids?” I asked.
“Yes,” he responsed. “Three- thirteen, seventeen, and twenty. It was hard when my kids were little,” he said, as if reading my mind,” but now that they’re older it has gotten a lot better. And technology has made it so much easier!” he exclaimed.
“Like my thirteen year old daughter chats with me on Facebook- it makes it easier just to know that she’s there,” he said.
I thought back to when I was a little girl and my dad didn’t even have a cell phone- just a beeper. A doctor frequently on call, he would have to run to a pay phone everytime his beeper beeped with a new number and patient.
“But I have to say, there is a good part about being away,” he said. “It makes you appreciate your family so much more. Every moment I have with them I treasure.”
I thought back to my childhood again, of my dad running to the golf course to escape for a little while from the intensity of four girls plus my mother. I guess everyone needs a little time apart.
In the Orthodox Jewish faith, when a woman is in menstruation, the man and woman are required to sleep in separate beds for the duration of her period.
Just having become friendly with a married Orthodox couple who are my age- and amazingly cool- I asked them if they do that.
“Yes,” Rivvie told me.
“Does it make you want each other more once it’s over?” I asked.
At this point, Rivvie and her husband Rob both nodded at me enthusiastically.
“Yes,” Rob responded. “Being apart for that week, though it’s hard, makes you want each other so much more.”
“It’s like being newlyweds all over again,” he said. I looked at them, together. They were so in love.
The rule of sleeping in separate beds made me think of all of those articles like “What to do when your sex life gets stale,” and “How to add some spice in the bedroom.” Well, this tradition seemed like a pretty basic way to do that me, without having to buy some fancy contraption or suffocate your spouse. There is nothing like a little time apart, and a little physical space, to make you and your body realize how much you want-and need- your significant other beside you.
But don’t go crazy. A large part of a successful relationship is physical intimacy, which can only be achieved when you are together. Emotionally intimacy- and truly getting to know one another, also pinpoints of a successful relationship, are also difficult without someone’s physical presence.
I guess it’s like everything else in life: true success and happiness come with the right balance.