I don’t usually talk about my relationships here because it’s personal, and personal in a way that involves another person. But there’s something I need to talk about, and I need to talk about it straight on.
Today my girlfriend moved away. She’s on a plane to Korea right now. She’ll be teaching English there for a year. What that means for us is that our relationship as we’ve understood it — as boyfriend and girlfriend — is done. We’ll see each other again, as soon as July or August, and I’m confident that we’ll stay connected. But a very important part of my life — a person I love, a relationship I rely on — is gone.
This is one of the hard parts. The stuff that maybe doesn’t go up on all the fluffy travel blogs about new places, new experiences, adventures. People envy what I’m doing, but they don’t do it, and there are reasons. Saying goodbye to people you love is a big one of the reasons.
Her departure, of course, comes before mine. But my departure was always a part of the plan, something she understood would come one day. It was never something she wanted to prevent. On the contrary, it inspired her to break free of her own habitual surroundings and start an adventure of her own. She’s on the way right now. I’m excited for her, even as I’m sad she’s gone.
People who don’t know us very well have tended to jump to certain conclusions when they hear that my girlfriend is moving to Korea. They think that we’ll be together again later, whether we know it or not. They think she’s going there to wait for me, to pine for me. They think that my wanderlust has been at her expense. This way of thinking tends to assume a bunch of things that aren’t really true for us: that the woman wants a long-term commitment while the man seeks to evade one, that the woman will shape her entire life around the capture of her man, that we’re fated to be together. Please don’t turn us into characters in a Nora Ephron movie, beset by obstacles and our own blindness until the magic moment. Real life is richer and more complex than that.
There’s something to be said for doing things the way we’ve done them. Everyone has had relationships that have come to an end — good relationships, relationships we’re glad we had. My girlfriend and I chose to do that consciously, instead of the more traditional approach of waiting until you can’t stand each other. We grew together, and we parted with love.
I am looking forward to seeing what she begins to create in this next phase of her life. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be a part of her life — past, present, future.