Thursday, October 18, 2012

Carolina On My Mind

When we were in high school, relationships were so shallow and simplistic they could be summed up in fourteen chapters of a Sweet Valley High novel.  By the time Elizabeth and Todd had broken up and she had trash-talked his pansy ass to Winston and Enid, Jessica had already created the perfect series of wacky events to drive them back into each others arms.  Aaaaaannnnd, scene.

The precursor for the Twilight shitstorm yet to come.

In college things were easier still.  Relationship drama could be easily dissolved by simply ingesting enough Jagermeister to anesthetize a rhino and sleeping with his fraternity brother.  And with the advent of the internet,  changing the status of your relationship became as simple as clicking a button on Facebook or having your "friends collect your records and then change your number".*

*My apologies for getting that shitty Gotye song stuck in your head.  

But as we grow older, have children, and become more "settled" in our lives, relationships grow more complicated as well.  There are just more. . .variables involved, and the decisions we make are no longer about our wants and desires, but about out financial obligations and the well-being of our children.  In the simplest of terms: We are forced to follow our heads, and not our hearts.  The reason I mention this. . .

*Yeah, I do have a reason; bear with me.

. . .is that a couple of weeks ago Dylan learned that both his mother and brother, who live in his hometown of  in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, have terminal cancer.  About four days after that, Dylan's ex-wife announced that she had met a man and subsequently accepted a job transfer.  She, the new guy, and Dylan's daughter Katie, would be relocating to Greensboro, North Carolina; 30 miles from his hometown.   As Dylan has fifty percent custody of Katie, his heart was shattered at the thought of only seeing her "every other holiday",*

*Unlike my ex who lives 5 minutes away and hasn't seen the boys since the last presidential administration.

and he knew he had to follow Katie across the country, to take care of her, and his ailing family as well.  So, in ten days, Dylan will be moving to Winston-Salem, North Carolina.   2,765 miles away.  Permanently.   


"This really sucks."  I muttered into Dylan's shoulder, as we sat by the firepit.  He was silent for a moment, playing idly with my hair.

"Yeah, pretty much."  He agreed with a sigh.

I lifted my head up and stared at the remnants of our campfire.  "This would be so much easier if I could just. . .erase. . .the last few months.  You know, like 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', only with less Jim Carrey and more narcotics."

He shook his head slowly.  "I don't want to forget.  Do you?  Really?"

"No,"  I smiled weakly.  "You know that I don't.  I'm just. . .I've never known anyone like you before and I feel sick to my stomach thinking I may never see you again."

Dylan scowled, making frustrated fists against his knees.  "It's not supposed to BE like this!" he growled, pounding his legs like a petulant child.  "It isn't FAIR!"

"No, it's not."  I agreed "But it's not about being fair.  It's about being a good parent and doing the right thing for your daughter."

Dylan sighed and reached for my left hand, softly running his thumb over my ring finger.  "If we'd known each other longer. . ."

"But we didn't."  I interrupted, pulling my hand away.  "We didn't, and neither one of us is ready for that, and it wouldn't change things anyway.  You know there's no way I can move to North Carolina.  I just got an amazing job with the university, M. is in one of the top autism programs in the country, and our whole support system is here.  Taking the boys away from the only home they've ever known would be devastating.  Not to mention taking them away from their grandparents whom I'm relatively certain they love more than me."

Dylan chuckled softly.  "And it would be a little weird to propose to someone when I've never actually MET their family."

"Yeah, and at this point it's probably better that you don't."  I said, fiddling with the edge of my sleeve.  "With you leaving so soon it would just make things more. . .complicated."

"True."  he agreed "Besides, I get the impression your sister Holly is a little weirded out that I'm short."

"Oh, for God's sake I never should have told her how tall you are!"  I cried, throwing my hands in the air.  "For the last time, 5'10" is not SHORT!  Jeremy Renner is 5'10" and he's a total badass!"

Dylan arched a brow in mock concern.  "You know, I'm becoming increasingly disturbed by your rather encyclopedic knowledge of all things Jeremy Renner."

"What are you talking about?"  I sniffed dismissively, "I don't know that much about him."

"Middle name?"


"Shoe size?"



"January 7th."

Dylan laughed.  "You do realize you know more about him than you do me, right?"

"That's not true!"  I huffed indignantly.  "Your middle name is David, your shoe size is also eleven, and your birthdate is March 15th!  Ha!"  I cried, flashing him a smug grin.

"I wear an eleven and a half."  he corrected "And my birthday is on the 16th."

"Oh. . .well. . .shit."

Dylan chuckled softly and poked at a rock with his foot.  I watched him roll the stone back and forth a few times, then I slid closer and rested my head on his shoulder again.

"Your favorite color is blue."  I whispered, and felt him smile as he rested his head on mine.  "You hate tomatoes but love ketchup.  You've never broken a bone, Kristi McFadden was the first girl you kissed, and you got that scar on your arm falling into a parked car when you were playing Ultimate Frisbee in college."

"You hate mushrooms even more than I hate tomatoes."  he replied, pulling me closer to his chest.  "When you were seven you wanted to change your name to Virginia.  Your first dog was named Woodrow, you've seen 'Animal House' 47 times, and your favorite color is green because it's 'hopeful'."

We sat in silence; for how long I don't know, but we held each other gently as the fire slowly faded to smoldering embers.  

"You know. . ."  I finally murmured into Dylan's chest as I snuggled closer.  "It doesn't freak me out that much anymore. . .not really."

I lifted my head, looking up to see Dylan's grey eyes cloud over with confusion.  Then realization dawned and he smiled so joyfully it took my breath away.

"I love you."  he whispered, burying his face in my hair.  I sighed softly and rested my hand over his steadily beating heart.

"I know."  I replied with tears in my eyes.  "I love you too."


Steph said...

This resonates with me so incredibly right now, it's uncanny. We are at "that age" where there are other little (and older) people involved and we can't just make decisions based on our heart strings like we could before, huh? That's the part about being an adult that SUCKS.
You brought tears to my eyes girl. Start saving up for airline miles and feel free to use us and this blog for therapy anytime.

Curtis said...

Love you, sweetie. You know I am here should you need anything.

Johi Kokjohn-Wagner said...

Le sigh.

I'm so frustrated for you two.

TheChickIsRight said...

OK - thank the LORD, I have emergency kleenex in my purse!

Shit, girl - I am so sorry about this particular turn of events. Yet, also happy for you and overcoming the L-word aversion.

I am sorry about Dylan's family and will pray for you both.

Shit. Stay strong sistah from anutha mistah (I know you don't really need me to tell you that - 'cause you will rock no matter what I say...).

Again, shit. My heart breaks for you. I will do my best to send positive vibes your way from here in Vantucky. :-)

Jen said...

STEPH- I am so over being a grownup. At least I got to experience real love in my life, which is more than most people can say.

CURTIS- Thank, Sweetie. XOXO

JOHI - Yeah, we just can't seem to catch a break, can we? Meh...

Leauxra said...

Damn it.

Something eerily similar happened to me when I lived in New Orleans (substitute cancer for Alzheimers and NC for Texas). Broke my heart.

Wish there was something that I could say. <>

Tiffany said...

Damn, Jen. You made me all teary. I hate it for you & for him. Please pass along that I've prayed for his mom's & brother's comfort and peace. Much love.

Tainted Fibers said...

This is just crazy. You could always come visit me. I live an hour away from Winston. The short people could hang with MY short people and they could get farm experience. I am not kidding either. Just give us time to get the house built. Seriously, you can't catch a break. And that is so not right. Big hugs for you!

Rachael said...

Well you made me cry. Hugs to you. I hope Dylan has shown you that you are loveable, and loveable by a great guy.

Laura said...

Awwww. Honey. I am so sorry. Life got in the way AGAIN. Feel free to be un-mature. I've never met either of you and this makes me cry. Unhappy face.

Maggi Shelbourn said...

Oh...Crap on a Cracker! And Knock Knock Mother Fucker! You all are in my thoughts and prayers.

Jen said...

CHICK - Thank you. :)

LEAUXRA - You and I lead eerily parallel lives. I just hope I can come through this as badass as you. xoxo

TIFFANY - The prayers are much needed and greatly appreciated. Thank you. :)

FIBERS - We may just take you up on that offer. Skype can only do so much. We are going to try the long distance thing...but we're both pretty realistic about it too.

RACHAEL - He has restored my belief in men and I will always love him for that.

Erica Burns said...

aww man :( being a grown up sucks! 10 days isn't long! I hope you are able to make the best 10 days ever! Best of luck with all this shittiness...

Jennifer Clark said...

I'm so sorry. For you, for Dylan, for his family. It's very, very hard, but he needs to be where he's going. I know this, 'cause I did much the same thing. *3 weeks* after Miles and I got together, I moved out of state. When I drove the U-Haul out of San Francisco, I sobbed all the way through the City and across the Bay Bridge. When I arrived back in Phoenix, I had a flare up of asthma from the stress. But I'm glad I did it, because my family needed me. I got to spend quality time with my mum (dying of COPD)and gram (going down w/ dementia). Miles and I were able to make it work. Lotta travel. Nightly, 3 hour phone calls. Emails galore. After 10 months, I moved back to California to marry him. (Not an exact parallel, but I wanted you to know it can work sometimes.)

You don't know what will happen in the future. You only know what things of value you have in the present. Perhaps the world will mend.

NATurally Inappropriate said...

Remember the good times. You don't know what the future holds. You can't know. It took a decade for Jay and I to find each other again, but we did.

I'm sorry. May you find peace and joy.

Andrea said...

Oh. No. :(

Anonymous said...

HUGS. You know I am here.

But . . . did you know that I also hate tomatoes but love tomato sauce, my middle name is Lee AND my husband is 5'10"? (And I hate mushrooms, but you knew that). It's eery, no? ;)

Bobbie said...

Well, shut the Front, side and back, door!! This is too much. Oh F-you.....responsibility!! **fist to air** You are a standing example of how to do this responsible adult thing properly. Thanks girl, hang in there. All my best to his family. I've been where he is going and I wish him and the family wonderful memories of the times together while they still can. Chin up. Cheers!

Jen said...

MAGGI - Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

ERICA - Being a grown up blows. But at least my boss is giving me a few days off and my folks are taking the boys so Dylan and I can spend some quality time together before he leaves.

JENNIFER - Thank you. And thanks for the email; it really lifted my spirits. Hopefully he and I will have the same happy ending you got. :)

NAT - Thanks, C. I'm hopeful, but realistic. xoxo

ANDREA - I know, right? ((sigh))

MISTY - Thanks for checking in with me over the last few days; it really helped. didn't also have adog named Woodrow and played Ultimate Frisbee in college, did you? 'Cuz that would just be...weird.

BOBBIE - I hope all goes well and that his mom and brother either find a miracle or a peaceful rest. What a horrible thing to be going through.

Ellen at Defenestrated Feet said...

Dang. This made me cry. :(

QOE said...

If I had a magic wand to wave and make everything better, I would. Since I don't, I'll just say that I'm thinking of both you. Who knows what the future will bring but you've been blessed enough so far to experience the love of a good man.

All my best to both of you.

Kelly said...

Oh girl. I love you. I'm so sorry, but I'm so glad you have him in your life. He's a good -un. And so are you. xoxo

Laura said...

Jen & Dylan. I've been bummed all day. But your friends/followers are right. You know you have each other miles don't change that. Jen knows she is worthy of love and can love. That's really important. I hope you enjoy the weekend and have lots of love and laughter before he goes. No wonder you thought he was Dylan M. He is from North Carolina and probably has a drawl. Being a grownup SUCKS. I am sorry for you both and sad that I won't get to hear cute Dylan humor/sexy stories. Jen are you SURE there isn't a good program for M in NC?

Jen said...

ELLEN - Me too. :(

QOE - No matter what, I will never regret the time we had together. And I will always love him for teaching me to trust again.

KELLY - Love you too, Girl. xoxo

LAURA - It's more than school; Oregon is our home. My whole family is here, all of my crazy friends that are like a second family to me, and I just started an amazing career at the university that it's taken me three years of schooling and interning to acquire. And after all of the turmoil following my divorce my boys are finally settled and happy. I could never uproot them like just wouldn't be fair.

PS: He does have just a little bit of a drawl; mostly when he's tired, or on the phone with family back home. The way he calls me "darlin'" gives me shivers every time.

Valerie said...

Oh MAN... I am so sorry. I am sending you so many mental hugs that you may actually be smothered.

Hugs to the power of infinity,


Von said...

Well, damn. I wish that love conquered all, but it doesn't. You know in your heart whether this relationship will last, but I'm sure you also know that you will cope and survive whatever happens. I wish you strength.

That's truly awful news about your friend's family. Props to him for being there for them when needed.

Brett Minor said...

This sucks, but it's life, which sucks most of the time, so it just goes together.

Laura said...

I can say w/o an ounce of sarcasm. You're breaking my heart. All I can say is being a grown up sucks. Hang in there. Give him a big hug. All you can do is remain positive and enjoy your time together. I am so sorry.

Jen said...

Wow! I just started reading your blog and I feel so sad for you. Life isn't fair. And, it sucks being an adult sometimes. Two main life lessons that never get easier. Good luck.

Jen said...

VON - its ironic that the thing I love most about him is the one taking him away. If anyone ever put me before their child I would run like the wind.

BRETT- Life doesnt suck, it's just challenging, but that builds character. :)

LAURA- I'm not letting him out of my sight until he leaves.

JEN- I'm so ready for someone else to be the grown up. It's exhausting.

chemgirljaime S said...

awww... Jen.. I'm so sorry. That's super sucky for both you of.


Jennifer Clark said...

Jen, I just listened to the video. James Taylor is so amazingly talented. I hadn't heard this version of "Carolina in My Mind" before. Such a beautiful song. A yearning for home. Some things need to happen. And folks need to decide what's important. And that's *damn* hard.

Hope you had a magical 4 days, sweetie. Wishing you the best!

Leslie said...

Jen, All the great love stories have some time of conflict in the middle where the characters are separated by life and circumstances. In the best love stories, they end up triumphing and love conquers all. I'm hoping yours is a happy ending, because I have enjoyed reading your love story so far and I hate it when the girl doesn't get the guy in the end. Here's hoping!