Pardon me for basically skipping an entire semester of blogging. I wish I could tell you that the return to Washington brought long-lasting joy and that the Swede and I had a lovely return. While we certainly enjoyed our transition back to the States, heck, if you read the last several posts on Brazil this will not come as a surprise, a long bout of unemployment coupled with some of the same issues I mentioned a few posts ago (OK two years ago) reared their ugly heads again in our relationship. This is all a long-winded way to say that after eight years, three continents and many homes together the Swede and I decided to separate in early April.
What to say about this separation? For those of you in the universe who know me in real life, you are aware that I am a hopeless romantic. Given this knowledge, you probably know that I am deeply shaken by this. Readers of my blog will also understand that despite a number of issues (cultural and otherwise) I was dedicated to, loved and stayed loyal to the Swede over many years. Despite a sense initial relief following a particularly stormy period, I am also cognizant of this massive loss. It is a huge one. The Swede’s companionship was literally a constant. This is especially true given that we were both students during our last 3.5 years. We were always together, night and day, year after year. Because of said closeness, when he initially went back to Sweden (yes, that is whence he has returned) I starting chatting to myself a lot. I’m not sure if I was chatting to him, or if I was chatting to me, or to some specter of his presence. But I certainly carried on the conversation, despite his departure.
I’m not entirely sure what the future holds for us, a friendship or some variant thereof. But we have filed for legal separation in the state of DC, which feels very official and scary. Thank you to those readers who have seen me through some of the last weeks of his leaving; you know who you are. You were my rock. It’s funny because there is some statistic out there that says something like 80% of Ph.D. relationships end during the tenure of the program. It feels very cliché to see myself as part of that number, and reading online articles on the challenges of finding love within the career web of academia are not particularly good for the morale either. What I like to think about these days is how much we dedicated our lives to one another and saw each other through many trials during our marriage, certainly not in a one-sided manner. I think our separation has less to do with the stress of the program than more complex, longer standing reasons.
The point, my dear ones, is that I walk on with a sense of courage and peace despite my ailing heart. I am comforted in knowing that we tried it all and wanted each other so badly for so long. Few relationships could have overcome the challenges ours faced—cultural, economic, geographic, distance related and otherwise. But somehow eight years marched on. With them, we grew up. We loved each other in our broken, human ways. We gave and gave again. So now there is a sense of calm after our series of storms that eases me a bit, like looking over a sheet of glassy water. I am calmed by the fact that few could have done what we did. And for that I am glad.