Sunday, April 15, 2012

Give and Take

Let's talk about long distance relationships. And how difficult they truly are. I've had three in my short 26-year lifetime, with the third being the charm and marrying my husband Nick. He was the only one to survive these trials, and hopefully he doesn't kill me for writing about my ex's (just kidding, he loves me. RIGHT?!)

First experience: High school sweethearts heading off to college. In different states. About 4 hours away from each other. But we'll be together forever and ever and everrrrrrrrrrrrr!! (26 year old self wants to smack some sense into 18 year old self). And I'll see you on weekends aka he'll visit me since I have no car at college and then I get busy with school work/involved in clubs/irritated at his constant wanting to take up my time on weekends when I could be drinking (I mean, studying) and it just becomes too much of a hassle. I have a new life; which was my point of going to college 180 miles away from home. I get involved with different activities on campus, and yes it is super not convenient to have you here every weekend. Plus there's that cute guy down the hall from me....
Moral of the Story: Let's be real, I was 18 and stupid. Long distance relationships take a lot of work and college is a brand new experience and adjustment. Add to that trying to keep together a relationship hundreds of miles apart ...it just becomes a super stressful situation that truly can be avoided. I wish I could go back and tell 18 (to 20? on again off again is a terrible idea) year old me that I wouldn't be alone forever. Who actually marries their high school sweetheart anyway? [Note, I do know one couple that are high school sweet hearts, but thats 1 out of the many couples I know. The odds are definitely not in your favor here].

Sophomore year of college: the foreigner. Things were great, he was a 7-foot tall basketball player with such an awesome accent. I couldn't wait to travel overseas to meet his family and go to places in Europe I would probably never get to visit. We had some classes together, I had the opportunity to go to all the fun basketball events with him, we got free drinks everywhere. Until he got transferred to play ball at another college in a different state. And spent his summer's at home. IN EUROPE. In theory, awesome, you're dating the the tall, handsome foreigner that shows up in (practically) every romance film ever. And then he's away for so much time. And then you realize that you don't really want to live in Europe and Skyping every night is just not going to work with my schedule.
Moral of the story: Even though movies make dating someone from another country seem so easy/cool, it's (once again) hard freaking work. Being as involved as I was in college made me a busy girl with not a lot of down time. And was I going to want to give up my free time on weekends driving back and forth to his college? Nope. Plus as a broke college student, can your really afford a plane ticket to Europe? Not a freaking chance. Son of a bitch you break the foreigner's super tall heart didn't you? Way to go Natalie.

Fast forward to Senior year of college to today: my husband Nick. He's funny. He's handsome. He puts up with my shoe collection (and my blogging, but he encourages me to do that). But the best is that he moved all the way to freaking New Jersey just for me.
We met through a mutual friend. She was dating his best friend/room mate Jer and would NOT stop telling me about "this guy who I really think you'd like and he's got a great job and a new car and blah blah blah blah" literally, every time I saw her. So finally I placated her and said I would meet him as it's not like my dating life was going super fantastical at the time anyway. We went on a double date for wing night at one of our favorite bars (I know right, let's stuff our faces with one of the messiest foods possible on our first meeting). Obviously he didn't think I was a total slob and even called to ask me on a date. Like a real date, where he picked me up and opened the car door for me and paid for dinner and walked me to my door step. And then a second date where we shared our first kiss. And it was all down hill from there.

I graduated and moved back home to New Jersey with my parents. We drove back and forth to visit each other every weekend, alternating me up to New York or him coming to New Jersey. Until the day he liked it so much he put a ring on it. With my career change and his work flexibility, he moved down to Dirty Jerz (he says he hates Jersey, which I believe. Except for the fact that Yuengling flows from the taps at every bar here like manna from Heaven. You're welcome for living only 2 hours from their factory).

So now we're all married and settled except for finding a house. But his whole family (and life long friends) are still in upstate New York. Which means seeing us is a treasure. Everyone wants to see you when you go up; family and friends. And who could blame them, we're so much fun! It's not bad to be wanted, it's just hard to be in so many places at once. I wouldn't trade it for the world; I have an amazing extended family (and friends) thanks to my marriage and they are all such good people. But traveling is exhausting. Three+ hours in the car will wear anyone out, and after doing it every other weekend for months like we did, it becomes a dreaded trip. But I'd like to think that once we do have a house, with all the extra space means we'll be getting lots of extra visitors, which I wouldn't mind in the slightest!

Moral of the story: Long distance relationships are hard. Heck, marriage/relationships in general are difficult, without distance involved. I know I've already said it twice, but it takes work. It has to become literally another thing you add to your agenda so you know that it gets done.You both have to be willing to put a lot of time and effort into fitting this relationship into your already busy lives. Plus there has to be compromise and amazing communication between each other or else it's not going to work out.  And doing them while you're young is silly (I know, says the 26 year old. I am wise beyond my years). You need to enjoy your time at college and experience new things. Which is why I advise everyone to go to college single. And when the right one comes along, it doesn't matter how much distance there is between you, you will make it work.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Delicate Balance

I had the pleasure of running the Phillies 5K again this year, and since my best friend Colleen has moved into the lovely city of Philadelphia, I spent the rest of the day with her.

We reached our second bar in her neighborhood and by our 3rd (5th?) celebratory round of drinks for the day, were commenting on the music selection of the patrons, which was apparently better then most times they visit. And then a slow song came on which made Colleen pop the question, "When was the last time you slow danced?"

I of course snarkily replied two years ago at my wedding. Well that's a gimme, obviously. But what about before that? Long pause. Senior Prom? Jenn and JD's wedding in 2005? John and Michelle's wedding just a few months before mine? I honestly couldn't tell you.

Which had us discussing the act of slow dancing. In grade school it was probably the most dreaded part of any school dance. You either felt bad about yourself if you had no one to dance with or could care less and were terrified of who might ask you to dance. Most of my slow dances were awkward arms length apart with sweaty palms on under-developed hips. We went to Catholic School so we needed to leave room for the Holy Spirit. But then when do you do it once your an adult? The only time that comes to my mind is weddings or big formal dinners. Or are there places where they will slow down the music once and awhile that I just don't know about?

Colleen put it elegantly in that to slow dance is to "take a second and just enjoy being with the person you with. There's something much more intense about slow dancing. It's the closest most intimate contact you will have with the lights on." Which is true; it can be a very sensual moment. We spend so much time going to clubs and fist pumping to "Shots, Shots, Shots" that when have we taken the time to slow down and really enjoy who we are with and not just grinding into each other? A quick peck on the cheek, your warm breath tickling each other's necks . Holding hands and hips and swaying closely to the rhythm of the music. A dip here; a twirl there. In this fast paced and rushed society, slowing down and truly soaking up the moment seems like a nice reprieve.

It's interesting to think too, as "you can have (a slow dance) with a total stranger or the love of your life" Colleen pointed out.  I mean how amazing is that scene in 'Scent of a Woman' when Al Pacino tangos with the lovely young lady at lunch? Strangers, but still they share such a connection just from dancing. And the romantic slow dance sequences are in so many movies all the time! Woman in beautiful dress walks down long staircase with dress flowing behind her into arms of handsome man that was gazing at her where they dance cheek to cheek and realize they're in love with each other. We all just want to be princesses dammit.

So I have to say that since this conversation I'm most looking forward to April and Sharbel's wedding on May 12th, as not only am I in it and I absolutely love them, but I'll get to enjoy slow dancing with the love of my life, my husband. If I haven't overdosed on sugar between the Martini Bar and Candy Bar.