Michael left for Lima, Peru in the beginning of April. He’s flying back to San Francisco tonight and should arrive tomorrow morning. It’s been a full three months since he’s slept in our apartment.
Since he left, I’ve seen him basically once a month – there was my two week trip to do the Inca trail and Machu Picchu right after finals in May, there was another week-and-a-half-long vacation to Disneyworld and a Caribbean cruise to celebrate his 30th birthday in early June, and he’s flying to Dallas in a week to visit me. We definitely didn’t plan this lengthy separation. Michael’s extended business trip was a sudden, but great, opportunity for him at Google and my internship with Prudential in Dallas, TX is a great opportunity for me. That our careers took us away from San Francisco and away from each other for months at a time is a sacrifice we had to make.
On one hand, our absences overlapped one month. On the other, my internship ends in August which means I will be in Dallas another month while Michael is back in SF, effectively extending our separation. That’s four months of not sleeping in the same bed. A third of a year not living in our apartment together. Michael says, and I know it’s true, that four months is nothing in the grand scheme of things. And we are incredibly lucky that we have the mobility and flexibility to fly and see each other while we are working apart. Not all long-distance couples have that luxury.
But I can’t help but feel like this is just an indication of how the next generation of professional couples will have to live in our increasingly global economy. Constantly planning around business trips and events, and trying to sync schedules for the simplest of tasks that must be done together as a couple. While at times lonely, I won’t deny that it’s been helpful having so much space and energy for myself. Shepherding my law school education and budding career as a lawyer requires me to be more selfish and self-centered than I’ve probably ever been in my life.
But, I miss the closeness, the feeling of being on a team with a teammate who always has my back, and just the ability to share little moments that I forget about by the time I chat with Michael online or video conference him at night.
One of the women who spoke at the Dallas Bar Association’s “Inspiring Women” event I attended a few weeks ago said that maintaining a work/life balance is a constant struggle and that you are the only person that can do it for yourself. No one else will do it for you so you must prioritize your own values and know when to say, “Enough.”
Four months apart was doable. I don’t want to do it again, but it was fine. We will see what future developments bring.
How do you handle work/life balance?