Thanks, Paul

Despite my promise to myself that I would blog more frequently, I’ve been a very poor blogger lately. Tonight, if I’m being 100% honest, I’m only procrastinating studying for a neurology exam (I’ve already read through the 121 pages of required information once, but a second time just seems dreadful at this point). Yes, this week it’s a neurology exam. Last week it was zoonotic diseases and urinary where the week before was reproductive systems. It’s a never ending cycle of exams every Monday (and the occasional Friday) that is leaving me feeling burnt out. Originally, we had two weeks of intense examinations followed by a month off where we were just responsible for classes and maybe the occasional assignment or two. This caused a lot of complaining during those two weeks of high stress and in an attempt to ease our burden, the administration decided to try a new schedule of one (or so) exams every week from the beginning of the semester until early November, at which point we would have about a month before finals. Though this eliminates the two weeks of intense stress, we now never get a break from studying. It never feels appropriate to slack off and watch Netflix because there’s always a huge grade on the line within the next few days. Some people really like it, but I’m experiencing burnout.

Throughout my existence as a caffeinated stress-ball, I’ve had unrelenting support from my wonderful boyfriend, Jeff. With our three-year anniversary coming up in a few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about our past and how we got here, as well as where we’ll be going in the future.

Jeff and I went to high school together, but traveled in totally different circles. We’d later find out from our parents that we actually went to preschool together, but neither of us remember this. We had mutual friends and were even both officers in our National Honor Society, but didn’t interact much aside from an occasional greeting. We both had long-term relationships in high school, so there was never a romantic interest, and once we graduated I didn’t think we’d see each other again.

I’m not sure if it’s out of a fear of growing up and losing touch with our childhood or just the desire to show everyone that after high school you really blossomed, but everyone followed each other on social media after graduation. Back then, I loved twitter and I sat in my freshman dorm up late one night bitching to my followers about the train outside my window that had been going off for the last three hours due to maintenance. My friends and I referred to the automated warning as “Paul” and I give him at least half of the credit for Jeff and my relationship today.

Somehow my posting lead Jeff to comment and soon lead to direct messages asking about how our first years away at school had gone. Our high school sweethearts hadn’t lasted and when we both went home for summer vacation, we made plans to meet up and “hang out” because dating isn’t really a thing of my generation.

Our summer together was sweet, but our schools were four hours apart by car and eight hours apart by bus (he didn’t have a car at the time) and distance didn’t appeal to either of us. We found reasons to argue and push each other away and soon decided it was just easier to call it quits and go back to school than keep fighting about how we would proceed. It wasn’t long until I heard from him, though.

I missed him. We clicked differently than I had felt with anyone else. I asked him to come visit and he did – he kissed me as soon as he got off the bus and I was in love. I’d tell him that a few months later and it would take a while before he said it back, but I didn’t care. I knew that he loved me in the way that he looked at me and I wasn’t afraid to say it out loud.

We were long distance until I graduated from Delval and even longer distance after I moved to Ohio, totaling just over two years apart. We fought like mad. It took a long time to learn how we each communicated and if he wasn’t just a stubborn as I was, it wasn’t by much less, so our arguments were loud and emotional and lasted for days. I remember crying to my best friend and telling her that I didn’t know what to do because I knew that I loved him, but we just couldn’t communicate apart. Text messages led to confusing mixed signals and being busy sometimes seemed like blowing each other off. Skype was great if a connection could hold, but it still wasn’t always enough. Two years is a long time to practice and we eventually learned that we needed to make time to see each other as often as possible and to try and give the person the benefit of the doubt before being hurt by a miscommunication.

I remember him coming to visit me one time while we were on winter break. Since I worked at the equestrian center, I had to spend part of my break working before I could go home. Though we weren’t supposed to have visitors, no one ever checked, and he stayed with me the extra week that I was there then we drove up to New York together. It was nice going into work on a freezing morning at 5:45 to feed the horses and clean stalls, then come home, toes and fingers freezing, to a warm bed with a cuddly boyfriend in it. I had a dinner shift once that I came home from to find him making a dorm-room dinner. We had grapes, cheese and crackers, mac’n’cheese, and wine. For dessert, we had a brownie cake from the grocery store down the road and vanilla ice cream. We ate this in bed in our pajamas trying to stay warm because the school had a tendency of forgetting about the workers and shutting off the heat. That night, we walked the abandoned snow-covered campus to the frozen lake and sat in the gazebo talking about life. In all of the craziness I put myself through, he was my calm, and he still is.

He still plays with my hair when I start to get sleepy and rubs my back when I get stressed out. He ignores me when I start to lose my mind over something trivial and makes me dinner when he thinks I haven’t eaten (and I haven’t, cheese-its are not a food group and I need to stop pretending they are). Though I do my best to show him that he means the world to me, I don’t think that he will ever truly know. I hope to spend the rest of my life with him trying to make sure he understands.


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