Tour Life

My fiancé travels for work.

As a touring musician, there are times when he’s gone for weeks. During those windows of days upon days, it’s sometimes hard to talk or even text with him. Between my work and social life, and his late shows and extended hours inside a van with three other dudes, our schedules don’t often line up.

Everyone always asks how hard it is. Like we’re the only couple in the world to spend this type of time apart. (How about military officers? Journalists? Traveling sales reps and airline pilots? Professional athletes and authors on book tours?) I know that my friends and family worry for me, perhaps thinking that I’m hopelessly lost without him, or that I feel abandoned rather than empowered by his absence.

In some extreme cases, I think there’s even subtle criticism of his career choice (as if it’s really a choice at all); an implication that he’s selfishly taking advantage of me; an obscure belief that he takes me for granted by leaving me alone, and that I feebly allow the mistreatment to go on.

The truth is that most of the time it’s all totally fine with me. In ways that I’m sure are hard for many to understand, this arrangement works for us. I have the pleasure of looking forward to his return, and an acute appreciation for quiet “me” time. When he’s away, I have the bed all to myself, and total control of the cleanliness (or messiness) of the house. I like not answering to anyone, making my own schedule, and concocting my own dinner menu. I touch base with friends I might not often see, watch whatever I want on TV (or not), and read into the late night hours. (Which, for a teacher, is like 11:00pm.) My sense of self is not wrapped up in his presence; my importance is not dwarfed by his absence. I fill my time with workouts and drinks with friends; errands and binge-watching Top Chef. I recall who I am as an individual, rather than as one half of a couple.  (Although I do, of course, love being one half of this pair.) All in all, it’s really not so bad.

Until, well, it gets bad.

Because I’m okay until I need him. Until we get into an argument and we can’t read each other’s expressions or hold each other’s hands. Or until he has to get off the phone suddenly because it’s almost time for their set. Or until I’m having a notably bad week, feeling sensitive and vulnerable and I JUST NEED MY TEAMMATE for a few minutes. Or when I can’t find the plunger or the power goes out or I’m scared of the dark on a cold night. (Though I hate to admit that last bit.) And don’t get me wrong – I can handle all of these things. I have before, and I will again. But on a day when I’m overtired and underfed, or when I’m just not up to that particular task at that exact moment…well, the resentment of having to do it alone can creep up on me like a hurricane growing force. The sky turns dark and I realize what’s about to hit.

Today was one of those days.

Out of nowhere, I woke up on Super Bowl Sunday feeling grumpy and fatigued, even after a full night’s sleep. I was frustrated and exasperated. I was easily agitated by his text messages; by the shake in my legs during my squats; by my own limited bank account; by the extended time apart (hitting the 4-week mark – always a Danger Zone). I was snippy and short-tempered with him. Bitter that he wouldn’t be cheering on the Patriots by my side today, and that we’d been organizing our three-month-away wedding from different sides of the country. It was irrational, and the precise trigger was unclear. But there it was – a little storm throwing fits of lightning and thunder around my life.

I got through the workout, picked up cupcakes for the Super Bowl Party I was attending, opened my journal, and shook it off pretty quickly. This time, the storm blew over without much fuss or collateral damage.

 

I try not to think about what these days mean for our future together. About the hours when things get markedly heavy, as they surely will, and I feel like I’ve been left to manage it all by myself. Because one of the darker sides of my character is that I have a great propensity for that brand of rage. I’m simultaneously needy and independent; high-maintenance and free-spirited. I don’t want to be taken care of, and I want to do it my own way. Except when I do want to be taken care of, and I want someone else to just make the damn decision so that I can clear space in my crowded mind to think about other things.

In short, I’m a real pain in the ass. I’m a beautiful disaster. A complicated piece of art.

But, much to my shock and awe, I’ve found the guy: Somehow both attentive and hands-off; sensitive and action-oriented. Creative and practical. Sure, sometimes he pushes me too hard – believes too strongly that I can do it when I really need him to say it’s okay if I can’t. And sure, sometimes he’s gone. But he’s also very much present.

Especially when he’s, ya know, actually here.

 

Bonesaw makes incredible music, and his life and career are filled with adventure, inspiration, and authenticity. He’s surrounded by interesting, intelligent, supportive people. His job enables me to check in regularly with “Solo Coco,” spending much-needed time with myself, alone, reflecting and feeding my soul. And conversely, his non-touring schedule allows time for things like long summer vacations, afternoon Ultimate games, and sunny breakfasts on the back porch.

And I should prepare myself. This is the life I’ve chosen, and in all honestly it wasn’t really any kind of choice at all. Being with him is like breathing. It’s the kind of oxygen that lets me sprint so fast that the world grows blissfully blurry. It fills my lungs so full to bursting so that I can be my absolute best … even when I’m at my worst.

I benefit from the uniqueness of Bonesaw’s career just as I sometimes grow tired of the schedule and the (lack of) pay. I sincerely wouldn’t have it any other way, and one of my greatest fears (of which there are, admittedly, many) is that he’ll one day stop. I truly love what he does.

It’s just that I also, now and then, kinda hate it.


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