Archive for July, 2011

MTR ….

So, in case you didn’t notice. I have officially entered into an MTR, so we move from theory to data collection. No no, no gasping! I’m mostly kidding. I’ve been thinking and talking about this idea for about a year now, and I like it (obviously). People have told me, though, that it would never work, that my/our emotions would get all messed up no matter how open and honest everyone is.

In my life, I have entered into a number of relationships, and they mostly started the same way, with twitterpation and a desire to be around each other all the dang time.

For those of you who don’t know:

I love hearing people’s stories and telling my own, so this part is exceptional for me. I think, looking back, that the next stage included talking about the future. I think in general that is the thing that propels the relationship along into “serious” rather than “just” dating. Once you start talking about the ways you will continue to entwine your lives, well, you do just that.

In my idea about MTRs, this is probably the weak point. Because that is what people do, they want to belong, to belong to each other. People want to be loved, to feel important to others, to be able to depend on each other. They want to connect.

Since my move date is solid, conversations about the future were consistently truncated.

 

 

 

 

At first.

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Change – the only constant

My earliest memories are of leaving. Leaving home, leaving people and places I loved. I moved a lot as a kid and then moved some more as an adult. I stayed in one place for year or less for more than 10 years in Colorado. I went from there to South Carolina, to Milan, to Cairo, to Georgia and finally to Minnesota.The thing is,  I like leaving…and arriving in new places. I like the  challenge of a new place, meeting new people, discovering new territory. There were times that I loved the move – where I saw it as a good idea, something fun, something romantic, something necessary. Once in a while, moving difficult and sad, but not too often. Sometimes I was running away a bit, and sometimes running towards.

As some of you know, I haven’t been that happy in MN overall, so the likelihood that I would be leaving for my internship placed this move in the former category. I was sure that the move would be a good one, obviously necessary and maybe a bit of running from AND running towards. A year ago, I was ready to leave MN and get on with things, get back to my “real life.”

And then things changed. The first change isn’t really new – it came with my Rumi. She was the first real friend I made in MN and currently owns the BFF title. She moved in with me after we finished grad school and flipped my life over. She stayed in my house about a year and we really got to know each other well. We were each out of work at some point during that year and for a brief time we were out of work together. Ah, the hours spent watching re-runs of Judging Amy, me in my chair, she in the Big Red Chair, snuggled in blankets while the contractors worked on the furnace – I think it was November. Late night conversations and baking ensued. She demystified some Minnesotan behaviors for me – which helped me know her better, and to relax some of my prejudices.

Choir changed things too – I joined the Twin Cities Women’s Choir and found a community of women that was completely unexpected. While I never did really get into the “inner circle” there, I really did feel a part of something grander every time we sang. I met some great women who gave me yet another look at Minnesotans.

And, well, yes, I got married (and divorced) here too. I won’t get into all that, but it changed me, my life, and my future choices too.

The next big change came as a result of meetup.com. I met some very fine people through the meetups I joined, but most especially were the Ladies from Spades. I joined the spades meetup and it was great – still is – but the best part was getting to know a particular group of women outside the regular meetup. We usually do play spades, but more than that, we talk, and even more than that, we laugh. I feel remarkably relaxed when I am with them. I once said that they were “almost like friends” and was nearly cut down by the glare of one of the ladies. I actually meant it as a compliment – for me a friend is more than the Google definition – A person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. For me a friend is all that, yes, but also someone who you can count on in a bind, someone you can call when you feel lost, someone who loves you even when you are not at your best. I was just beginning to see the possibility of that when I uttered those words. And now…yeah…things have changed (have I said that already?).

Finally, there’s the MTR. I won’t go into that now (it pretty much deserves it’s own post), suffice it to say that it has changed my thoughts and feelings about being here and leaving radically.

My “real life” seems to be here, now. I mean, right here, right now. I guess it’s true, what John Lennon said, ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing. R. D. Laing

MTR – Every moment counts

My MTR plan was a good one, but there are things about it that I hadn’t thought through. For me, the MTR grew from a frustrated desire to date without a Uhaul in tow, with a clear understanding of my plans to move. I was very focused on the idea of dating without expecting the (misguided) fairy tale ending. I was tired of the notion that relationships must last “forever” to have worth, must be long term to be real.

Turns out there are other benefits, some which may seem obvious to you but that I didn’t expect. Being in an MTR changes the way I look at the little things. I know all about not sweating the small stuff, and in some areas in my life I think I’m even good at it, but in intimate relationships, not so much.

Here’s the thing, I can manage most any thing if I know the time on it is limited. I can work at a job I don’t like, eat too many salad greens, suffer without AC, and even suffer through too expensive, lackluster graduate classes if I know I only have to do it for 10 days, six weeks or one semester.

Guess what? This principal can be applied to relationships, too! I mean, a mildly annoying habit can become the focus of a break up – I have heard people complain about tiny issues in great detail over and over again – but when you know that it won’t be annoying you FOREVER…it’s much easier to let go.

Let me be clear that I am not talking about straying from my own values or ignoring any major red flags – nor am I saying that my current partner is full of annoying habits. I am just talking about the mind-set that I find myself in. And the more I think about it, the more I like it. I mean, I use the Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff method in so many other areas of my life, I kind of feel bad that I haven’t done so in my partnerships. Because that is what this really seems to be about.

I mean, ok, let’s pretend the issue is “finishes the last of the dessert” (don’t laugh, this has been an issue in my past). If you think about it from the “forever” viewpoint, it kinda sucks. Who wants to spend FOREVER with someone who ALWAYS finishes the last of the damn dessert?! Not me, let me tell you.

If you think about it knowing that you will not be with this person forever, it allows you to soften a bit – do I really begrudge this person – with whom I have so much joy – do I really begrudge them the last piece of pie? Of course not! So, what if we approached long term partners the same way? Wouldn’t that help us to be kinder and gentler to one another?

Yes, yes, you might want to come to some agreements about dessert, and if it really was a big deal hopefully you could, but in the long run, really, there are so many more important things in a relationship. I think even some big items might be manageable this way…because the truth is that even when we call them LTRs and we want for them to last forever, we really just don’t know.

Things can change in an instant, through folly, chance or choice. We don’t actually have FOREVER with ANYONE, why waste the time we do have worrying about it? I want to spend my time in joy, to cherish every moment, to love every minute. Wait, that reminds me of a song…

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