Whenever I go to see him, there are no real life trappings around me. No dog, no cat, no teenage daughter, no house to clean, no food to cook. No snow. California is warm and sunny and pretty. It always feels like a long overdue vacation. If you’ve read my previous blogs, this whole relationship has been wonderfully romantic and magical.
Ryan has tried to stress to me the importance of my seeing it as it really is and I’ve argued that I AM seeing it that way, that my eyes are wide open.
It was his first time in Massachusetts and his first time on an airplane as a matter of fact. He took a red-eye flight in hopes he’d sleep through it and avoid the angst of flying. He barely slept at all. I picked him up at 8 AM at Logan Airport. He was pleasant but tired. We got back to my place and Henry and Lily immediately claimed him as their own. He sat on the couch, covered in mammals and fell asleep.
He finally got to meet Ivy. In my mind, I suppose I was still looking to secure her a father, someone to look up to, to confide in. Ryan and I had often talked about how, despite our geographical distance, we were a family now. And I’d insert silently in my fairy tale mentality, “we’ll live happily ever after.” It’s become apparent that Ivy is more realistic and grounded than I am when it comes to fantasy. She wants none of it. Now is now for her. No projecting, no pretending. She was pleasant to Ryan. There was no arguing but not much warmth either.
I’ve seen a few types of teens and how they react when their parents bring men or women home. There are the girls who will be pleasant and sweet and welcoming, and accept everyone without question. There are those who will hate whoever arrives, without discrimination or fairness. And then there are the Ivys. She’s pretty much hated everyone I’ve met, in short order; but ultimately her instincts have proven true. Out of three kinds of kids, I’d prefer honesty and fair judgement even if it’s just her opinion.
By Ryan’s first night here, he got the sniffles which turned into a cold and fever. Over the next couple of days, he developed a cough. And then there was the issue of weather. It was supposed to be 60s and raining. But instead it was in the 80s and sunny, then 60s and rainy, then 70s and rainy. He got to see how we New Englander’s live on a day-to-day basis.It was not like the California visits. Not by a long shot.
One night he woke up at 3AM coughing so badly he couldn’t fall back asleep and ended up sleeping on the recliner. He woke me up around eight in the morning the next day. Ivy was at school. He sat and gave me the “We have to talk” look. I was afraid. I’ve had a few of those morning talks where someone wakes up and decides I’m too much. I was the Massachusetts Carly here. Scattered and busy and dripping with dependent mammals. He’d acted a little cool since he’d gotten here, more reserved. I felt like now that he’d seen this me, not the carefree California Carly, well I was more than he’d bargained for.
“You know, you’re a lot more entrenched in this life than I realized,” he said. “Moving out to California is going to be a much bigger deal than you realize. Letting go of all this. You’ve got a whole life here.”
“Of course I do. I have an identity. I just want to be with you so I’ll give this all up someday and move out there. It’s okay.” I’m not sure how it looked from his end, but for me, I felt everything flash before my eyes. This was surely his way of ending things, of letting me down easy. When he reads this blog, I’m sure he’ll be surprised that I was going through all that, in my head, because it wasn’t his intention.
He merely wanted me to start seeing everything for what it was. A real relationship with a future where it’s not all heart and flowers. Where Ivy may never be thrilled with our relationship, where my relocating is going to rip my heart out, where one or both of us may sometimes be sick and not perky. I’m not sure why, but at first that realization rattled me. The voices of exes echoed in my brain, “You can’t handle it when a relationship becomes real! As soon as the romance turns real you run!”
I looked to Ryan. In that moment, we turned a corner. It was hard corner for me. Like I was letting go of one stage to move onto the next. I was nervous the next couple of days, the rest of his visit. I was still on eggshells, on some level sure that he was moving toward a different step, of running himself. I couldn’t be sure. I just knew I was afraid and it was another reminder of how much more he means to me than anyone else has.
But it was all fine. He went back home. I got some sleep, his cold got better. And we resumed our normal routine of nightly long phone calls and texts and emails and IMs during the day. But it’s been different for me since then. It feels more secure and permanent. The veil of fantasy was lifted and I’m truly happy with the future that is underneath.
Here’s to building a solid future-a real future.