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I really forgot how hard relationships can actually be, especially those in which the people are three-hundred miles apart. Actually, I’ve never had experience in the latter part of that; I’m a bit inexperienced when it comes to these long-distance relationships.

Pittsburgh Boy and I had our first fight on Sunday night. I am not a good fighter, not in relationships at least. My first instinct is just to end the relationship, rather than try to talk things out. He said something, and my reaction was, “I need to hang up now. We’ll talk tomorrow. Bye.” After I hung up, I forgot everything good about the past two months and was thinking break up, break up, break up!

On Monday, I talked it over with a few friends. They all seemed to have the same opinion: I was being rash, I was panicking, I would be throwing away a perfectly good relationship. Ian said it best:

well all i’m saying is that you need to be honest with yourself about everything, and not to be constantly on the lookout for exit strategies, you know? it’s one thing to be careful, another to alway be ready to abandon ship. because if you really do care about him then it can be worth it to have problems at the beginning.

I know he’s right. I think I got used to looking for exits in relationships, mostly because it’s easier to break up with someone than be broken up with. But also because, for the past few years at least, I would be able to jump back into my comfortable cycle with Pete.

Now it doesn’t help that Pittsburgh Boy didn’t call last night like he said he would. Last night was the first night since we’ve met that we haven’t talked. He emailed with some excuse about falling asleep early. I sat in bed last night trying to get my head off of it by watching a movie, then going for a run when I couldn’t calm down, then coming back to bed when I couldn’t even concentrate during my run. Ultimately, I think I hate being in relationships because they make you feel this vulnerable.

Ian ended our conversation yesterday with a bit that I hope comes through today:

it’s a give and take, and in the end you just have to weigh everything against your desire to be with him. it’s easy to get mad, it’s hard to forgive. but forgiving is ultimately more important.

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Pittsburgh, Part One

It’s only been two months and I’ve already come to realize the worst part about long-distance relationships: the ride home. I hated this morning, hearing Pittsburgh Boy’s alarm go off and feel his legs untangle from mine. It was only 4:30 in the morning and I pretended to be asleep as he picked his way through the hotel room to the sink. I hate the horrible goodbyes, knowing that you’re dissecting every bit of your schedule to find the next available weekend, the next hotel room. Feeling the stress of looking at jobs around the country and wondering if it’s even going to work anyway, and then spending more time looking at the placements in his area.

The ride out there was intense enough, and I feel like that should be a whole post upon itself. I’d spent all night awake after getting to help on a major operation at work. And then, to made a long, convuluted story short, a huge accident happened in front of my car on the way out and I did CPR on the driver of the one car until the ambulance arrived. By the time I reached Pittsburgh, I was worn and exhausted, stripped to my camisole and skirt and holding my blood-stained blouse. He arrived soon after, and it was such a strong feeling of relief. We drove over to his newly-married friends’ house for an out door dinner (which I should mention was a bit awkward as they’d only gotten ribs, until I told them that my diet is steadily based upon beer anyway). Back at the hotel that evening we could hardly sleep, both of us so giddy to be back together. We curled up in the hot tub, his fingers twisting around mine, and I caught myself thinking that I wished this could be every night instead of once or twice a month.

In the morning, we woke to have a breakfast of ommelettes, toast, and potatoes at his favorite diner, followed by a long walk along the river.

     

We stopped by an old ice cream shop for root beer floats, and then went to the Pittsburgh History Museum.

For dinner, he took me to this amazing church-turned-brewery. The old altar was converted to display the giant tanks of brewed beer:

We sat outside in the garden, sharing cherry-puree beer and spinach, feta, and gouda dip. His kobe beef salad and my couscous salad were literally works of art. Everything was so mellow, enchanting. Of course this is when I ask if we can go visit College Roomie…

On Friday I had another minor freakout. I spent the morning in an autopsy and after leaving work found out that Pittsburgh Boy hadn’t even left Pittsburgh. “We need to talk,” he said. He went on to say that even though he’s been fairly intense lately with us dating, he thinks we should take it slower, not throw titles around. I’m definitely not a titles type of girl, but my head started flashing back to PK. Four years of moderate dating with no titles thrown around? I couldn’t take that again. I told him that perhaps it would be best for him not to come then, that I didn’t want this just to become some stagnant relationship with no clear lines. Calmly, he told me to think it over for ten minutes and figure out what I wanted. I did want to see him, so I called back and told him to come before rushing back over to a crime scene.

The crime scene was, to say the least, morbid, so I handled it by meeting up for drinks with Gay Rower afterwards. We discussed how I needed to seduce Pittsburgh boy (hadn’t I already done that?) and what the outcome of the weekend would be. Another one of our rowing friends met up with us, and the two of them walked me back to my car. I picked up a cheesesteak and black and white cookies for Pittsburgh Boy, a nice welcome to the city. Over at the hotel I threw on boxers and a movie and opened a bottle of wine.

He got there twenty minutes later and I pounced. It felt so amazing to be back with him, so natural. There have never been any nerves, any uncertainties when we’re together. We took a quick shower and then curled up in bed talking for the night.

In the morning I took him to my hometown, where we had a fantastic brunch and then wandered the main street. He was infatuated with it, and raised his eyebrow repeatedly asking how long the train is to Philadelphia and wondering if they had his field of jobs in the city. We went to the local candy store, with jars upon jars of every candy imaginable, and filled up a bag of jelly beans and gummy worms.

We made a quick stop over at the races- College Roomie was there and things were tense with her, and I wanted to spend as much alone time with the boy as possible. We stopped by my house to grab Willa and I took him to the local park, which had a few miles of easy hiking and a spot for Willa to swim. We held hands through the entire walk and he stopped every so often to pull me closer to him. I really could not help noting how natural everything felt, as if this were our routine that we’d been doing for years.

We stopped by to drop the pup back off and (through devious planning on their part) my parents were there. I hadn’t wanted them to meet so early, wanted to give him and I time to develop before scarring him with my family. He got along well with them, was at ease answering their few questions, both sides teasing me at my insistance on leaving. And then my grandmother showed up. You see, my grandmother had made clear that she wanted to meet the man that I was holed up with for the weekend. The only way that would work out would be to trick me. Pittsburgh Boy handled it well though- while I was a general mess, he calmly talked about golf with my grandmother. I pulled him out of there as quickly as I could, ignoring pleas from my parents to stay for dinner.

Pittsburgh Boy asked to see our local grocery store- they don’t have this chain out in Pittsburgh and it’s actually very impressive. We walked through the rows of artisan breads and homemade desserts and chose a dinner of eggplant roullettes, stuffed shells, and cannolis.

Back at the hotel we settled in for a long bubble bath with glasses of wine- I’m by far not this type of girl but it felt nice to relax and just talk. He ran downstairs after and grabbed even more food from the restaurant- giant pub pretzels, spring rolls, and bruschetta- while I laid our spread out on the bed. I have not felt this relaxed or this happy in a very long time over something as simple as dinner on a hotel bed over intensely serious conversation.

In the morning I felt a pang of sadness knowing that I was getting this attached to someone who probably wouldn’t work out. Writing out directions for him to get home I realized just how impossible all of this is. We’re starting off our relationship long distance, and there’s a pressure for it either to continue like this or for one of us to move. It’s true that I’ve been interviewing for jobs there, but I’ve also been interviewing for jobs in New York and Iraq and Washington. I could never move somewhere for someone else, so at this point I’m just hoping that things work out.

Writing all of this out has really cleared up why he doesn’t want to place titles on us. It makes everything more definitive, makes us feel guilty if we don’t talk for a day or if we go a few weeks without seeing one another. But I know what it is- I’d rather drive the six hours to see him than drive five minutes to the local bar to see anyone else.

I came within an inch of breaking up with the Pittsburgh boy this week. I was going through waves of realizing just how great he is to realizing how much I hate being in relationships. And then there was the whole thing where I was thinking about Pete on a daily basis, having incredibly vivid dreams that I was back together with him, finding photographs of times we were together. I lined up all of the negatives in my head over Pittsburgh boy: that he lives so far away, that he’s a Republican, that everything feels so quick. And then Pete emailed.

Pete and I talked on the phone later that evening and while it made me miss him, it also made me realize what I have now. I have a guy who is packing up and driving three-hundred miles after work to spend the weekend with me. Who specifically got a hotel room at a hotel nearby the restaurant where we had our first “date” (It’s a very, very rare chain. Four or five restaurants on the east coast. The other one was in Harrisburg two weekends ago).  He’s bought a bottle of champagne, I bought a bottle of red wine. He’s called me every single day since we met, told me how beautiful I am, how crazy about me he is. I just cannot pass this up. The day after we met I came home and couldn’t stop staring at our pictures together. I don’t want to keep worrying if the person I’m with really cares about me, or whether he just doesn’t want to be alone and is “settling” (his words, not mine).

So I’m going to forget all of that and reaaaaaally appreciate what I have this weekend: an incredibly handsome, charming, intelligent, funny man driving across the state to see ME. A weekend of romping in a hotel, of enjoying crew races and a night out on the town. As Peter said: “let yourself be appreciated, twerp.” I’m going to do just that.

And mayyyyybe I’ll post some pictures on Monday! And maybe by then I’ll have thought of a good name for the boy. Any suggestions?

Pittsburgh, Part III

On Sunday morning I woke up and made breakfast for us- scrambled eggs with cheese and cream cheese and pancakes. Everyone else was a bit hung over and moving slowly, but we made plans to head out to Southside for the Spain-Germany Euro cup final. The first bar we went to, we met up with College Roomie’s friend, Megan. Megan and I loved the German crowd- we were packed like sardines against the bar with everyone jumping together. College Roomie, our other friend, and College Roomie’s new roomie headed across the street to another bar while Megan and I got sloshed on German beer and shots with German fans.

Afterwards, College Roomie took me and our friend up for a view of the city from the hills. The sight was gorgeous, perfect. I kind of fell in love with Pittsburgh then. When we got back, I took a long run along the trail next to the canal. It was a bit late, so the sun was setting just as I cross this gorgeous train bridge. I stopped and watched the sun set, then ran into the city and back. It was one of those perfect, sweaty runs. I burst back into College Roomie’s apartment to find that a couple of her friends- including her best friend- had arrived.

After a quick shower and throwing on a dress, I settled in for a night of heavy drinking with the friends. Jesse, the one friend, saw me sipping vodka and orange juice, grabbed the bottle of vodka, and chugged before passing to me- this did not bode well.

Within the hour Jesse and I were making fun of College Roomie’s best friend for not having made a move on me the night before. I don’t even remember exactly what I said, but I knew that it was harsh. He went outside, I think a bit angry. I had to go to the bathroom, but Jesse decided he wanted to use College Roomie’s bathroom. Since College Roomie lives in a boathouse, I decided to run upstairs and use the one in the locker rooms. Run is the operative word- I for some reason thought that running was a great idea. Turning on the lights was also seen as unnecessary, so I was running full speed through the erg room in the dark. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I ran straight into one of the ergs and broke a few toes (have spent most of this week getting x-rays on my fractured foot and broken toes). When I realized that my leg was bleeding, I screamed.

College Roomie’s best friend must have heard me and came to find me. I was close to tears, telling him how much my leg hurt, and then he was kissing me. It felt…perfect. I completely ignored the fact that my toe was jarred off to the side- I was kissing a gorgeous guy. The guy and I ended up spending all of the night together, down on the docks, by the river under the bridge. I didn’t want to think about the fact that I would be getting on a plane in a few hours.

The thing is, when College Roomie was setting us up she intended on it being purely physical. But it was hugely emotional- we spent most of the night talking about our families, our lives, our friends. It was intense and hard when he had to leave at 5 am.

I got on the plane that morning expecting to never hear from him again, but it’s been exactly the opposite. He called me that very evening and we talked for hours. “You know,” he told me, “my friends are confused as to why I’m calling my one-night-stand. But I don’t want us to be a one-night-stand.”

We talked every day this past week, texted all during the day. On the fourth of July, he called and asked me to meet him halfway the next evening, insisting that he wanted to take me on a real date. I drove the two hours to meet him halfway, crawled into bed at the hotel room he’d reserved. When he arrived a half hour later, it was like we’d been dating for months. He crawled into bed beside me, let me watch the Phillies game, and whispered in my ear the entire time. We had an amazing date out, holding hands throughout dinner and rushing back to the hotel room.

I know I’ve been all anti-dating, but this completely blindsided me. The guy is exactly everything I want- intelligent, sweet, caring, athletic. He’s a rowing coach too, so he knows how important that side of my life is to me. He also has a solid career in a similar field as mine, so we’re both interested in what the other is doing. I found myself doing things that I never usually like doing- cuddling, holding hands, letting him pay. But I loved every moment of it with him.

He’s flying in next weekend for a race and to see me, so we’ll have to see where this goes. I’m too nervous about getting my hopes up and jinxing it. Long distance relationships make me nervous, and after PK I’m fairly nervous about guys in general. I guess I’m also held back by the fact that we kind of did things backwards, not getting to know each other until afterwards.

Pittsburgh, Part I

I left work early on Friday to get to Pittsburgh nice and early- College Roomie had made plans for us (her, Jason, her roomie and me) to go to a concert in the park on Friday night. My plane would get in with perfect timing to get there as it started. When I got to the airport, I tried to convince the booking attendent to switch me onto an earlier flight- that was a no go.

Everything was fine until the rain started. The other passengers and I waited, tense, watching it pound against the airplanes on the tarmac. We sat with bated breath until finally the red light flashed beside our flight number- delayed. And then we watched as they delayed our flight a second, third, and fourth time. No way I would get there before the concert, and I’d have to fend for myself for dinner. I approached the booking attendant’s stand again, and, eyeing the pizza-ice cream- fried fast food, questioned if they had anywhere that served lactose-free, gluten-free, vegetarian food. She eyed me for about five seconds before I rescinded my question and asked a new one: where was the bar?

I clicked my heels down to the bar, only to find that it was packed. Everyone’s flights were getting delayed, and I was lucky to find myself a place near the bar. I smiled at the two girls next to me, both blondes my age. I don’t remember how we came to the decision, but the three of us grabbed a table towards the back with three large pints of beer. The introduced themselves, we talked about jobs and families, boyfriends and “fun buddies”, as the one girl put it. They were amazing, and it was nice to find out that one, Megan, was on my flight.

We finished a few pints and then got another in a to-go cup to sip while waiting back in line. Standing in four inch heels in this new fangled airport line? It sucked. The blonde got onto the plane before me but saved me a seat. I slid in next to her, and another older woman slid in next to me. Megan and I finished our drinks and were both in a happy state, flirting with the flight attendant and convincing him to give us more drinks for free. So it’s safe to say that by the time I was waiting outside for  College Roomie to pick me up, I was sloshed.

“She’s in rare form,” College Roomie said as she introduced me to her roommate. I was- somehow I had also convinced the flight attendant to bring me tens of bags of peanuts, and I had opened each one. I’m going to be terribly afraid on the day that College Roomie decides to clean out the backseat of her car, only to find a stash of loose peanuts.

“I can’t wait for you to meet my best friend J,” she said. I was only listening half-heartedly at this point. She’d been trying to convince me that this guy was perfect for me, going so far as to send me pictures of him. I had to admit that he was adorable, but I just wasn’t in that state. She kept at it though- told me I’d meet him the next day at the barbeque she was throwing. When College Roomie and I climbed into bed together, she insisted again. “Just meet him, you’ll see.” I nodded obediently, mostly because the whiskey sours had made me sleepy. We crashed, whispering back and forth to each other just like we’d done back in college.