I'm a little over halfway through a summer of intermittent separation from my spouse.
I took a job this summer doing outreach and client intake with migrant farmworkers as a paralegal with Migrant Legal Services. It's a great job because it carries a more real sense of fulfillment than some jobs, because it gives me a lot of concrete experience working directly with clients, with opposing parties, and with administrative agencies, and because I get to speak Spanish.
But the trade-off is that I am required to be away from home about half the week. At the beginning, I would leave Monday morning, work in three different towns, and get back Thursday sometime between 6 and 11:30 depending on what was scheduled. We kept on telling ourselves that since I'm only gone three nights/week, I'm still home the majority of the time. But I think we may have engaged in a bit of self-deception. The reality is that I was still gone more than half the days of the week and more than a third of the the nights of the week. Since Mrs. JKC is also pregnant, and since we found out about the time I began this job, the separation seems acuter.
My schedule has since altered and I'm now coming back a day earlier, which is nice. But it's still hard to be away.
I know that we have it better than many others, and maybe I shouldn't be complaining. But it's odd how sad I've felt the past two weeks as my endurance has worn ragged. I remember feeling this way a little bit back in my previous life as a single person at BYU. Lonely. Eating horrendous amounts of nachos for dinner, commiserating with similarly single roommates, fantasizing about relationships, complaining about bad dates, etc.
But that was different. Back then it was easier to revel in it. I could put on my headphones and roam the rainy streets of London at night to the melancholy repetition of "Only in Dreams," and not feel too pathetic because it was kind of romantic. Maybe spending too much time in a classroom with Nick Mason and having a few of those tortured artist type friends allowed me to see myself not just as sad, but as gloriously lonely. I was like "yeah, I totally get The Cure." Because I know how cruel loneliness can be. Not that I was an emo kid or anything. But sometimes, it was fun to wallow in the cliched mire of self-indulgent loneliness.
But now I miss someone I actually do have, not some ephemeral fantasy of my own creation. And the fact that I'll see her again in only a few scores of hours kind of makes me feel more pathetic for not having the guts to stick it out. We were apart for two months while engaged and I was able to play the tortured separated lover with some kind of panache. But now, if I start to feel the urge to revel in it, then I feel this counter-urge that tells me I'm being juvenile and stupid, that I should put away such childish things.
Why is that? Have two years matured me so much that I can't identify with all those musical laments anymore? Has marriage matured me? I'm still the same dude, I think. Did two semesters of law school purge that sentimentality out of me? Or should I just go ahead and indulge?
I just don't want to go away anymore.