I talked to my mom on the phone tonight, and this was the question, about me and The Dude, now that she’s met The Dude. I should note, this is not a typical question for my mother, because typically she doesn’t like anybody enough to have questions about their future with me. She, and G, typically hope that I don’t have a future with dudes, generally, because nobody is good enough or “right” or whatever. To be fair, nobody has been 🙂 We had a good talk, and she has no preordained ideas about what “should” happen.
My most honest answer I have to that question is that I don’t know – how could I possibly know? But so far, I do think that he is my future. We’ll see.
But the thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is about my “path” to this point. What I’m about to write is in no way a prescription, because, dude, it’s not like I’ve plotted any of this out in advance, and also, things could go to hell in a handbasket at any minute.
But here are things that are particularly good because of the life stage that I’m at.
- I’ve got tenure. I’m planted here. Getting involved with The Dude involves no negotiations about location, no angst about how we’ll “make it work” in some imagined elsewhere, some imagined future time.
- Going along with that, with him, there is no postponing shit to some future point. I already own my house, I already have my career organized, and whatever might come, there isn’t a sense that we have to “wait” to figure anything out about our relationship because of practical (mainly money) considerations. Any decision we’re going to make about us or the future it is not at the mercy of the academic job market or at the mercy of my chance at feeling successful. It’s also not at the mercy of anything with his career or his finances or about anything. Our relationship is about our relationship, period.
And here are some good things about him:
- At no point in the past five months has he ever disappointed me. He calls when he says he’ll call. If we have plans, those are totally set in stone. He never flakes out. Ever.
- I have never felt, at any point with him, that I am pushing him for something that he doesn’t want, or that I have to beg for his time or attention.
- I trust him to slow us down when necessary, and I’ve learned that him doing that has nothing to do with his commitment to me.
- We are both all in, even if we are both afraid of that.
I don’t know where things with The Dude and I will go, and yet because of the above, I trust him.
But, let’s say we wanted to have a kid. (I don’t know that we do, but we’ve talked about it in the abstract.) We don’t have to worry about timing a pregnancy on the academic calendar, because I’ve accrued 10 years worth of sick time and I’ve already got tenure, so if we did, and if that baby came at an inconvenient time, I could totally take a whole semester off. Also, if that were to happen, we’d have local support for it, and I wouldn’t be a lonely academic with a stressed out partner and no babysitter.
Let’s say that we just move in together. Neither one of us wants to do that for any practical reason – he is an independent and self-sufficient person, and so am I. Moving in together would never be about practical benefits, even though there would be practical benefits to it.
There is no competition between us about career. And there never will be. We aren’t together because of our jobs, or in spite of them. At no point will we need to “take turns” about career opportunities.
All of the above means we can be “all in” emotionally, and not because we have to be, but because we want to be.
Look, we still might break up. I know that. But we’ve stopped anticipating that we will, and I think that’s a good thing. And he has loved other people, and I’ve loved other people, and those things haven’t worked out. We’ve both had that in mind this whole time. And yet… we each believe that we have found our one true person in each other, even though both of us are deeply suspicious about the “one true person” business.
For me, I can’t imagine a person who is a better person than he is. I hope he feels the same, and I think he does, he has said he does. Who knows where it will go. But what is great for me in this relationship, that has not existed in any other relationship is that there is no need to postpone anything – there is no need to wait for a right time. This, so far, is a relationship in the present tense. And for me? That is both unique and awesome.