Josh and I first got together because the girl I had a crush on got with the guy who had a crush on her. And I needed an immediate distraction. I thought for sure Josh and I would only be together for TOPS six months and then I’d move away and forget all about this clusterf*ck of a situation.
Well, if you read this blog, you know how that turned out. Eight years later, Josh and I are now married and that girl I had a crush on (who I never told by the way) is basically married to that guy she started dating back then. All’s well that ends well.
Here’s the thing: I don’t know about everyone else but it is really hard to be an artist on the road and be in a long term serious relationship. Like, I can play it off as much as I want but, until I literally go through the legal and complicated and messy process of divorce, I am tied to this person.
Which yes, love is great. Josh is great. Everything is sunshine and skittles. But that doesn’t change the fact that if I was single a lot of things about traveling all the time would be so much easier.
Since January 1, I have applied to three different opportunities that could take me out of state for at least a year. I haven’t been subtle about not being super excited about still being in Arkansas*. For a while, it felt like the only way to move forward was to leave. And whether leaving my career would help or not, it would be a much easier choice to make if I wasn’t tied down. I could go up and leave and not have to worry about coming back and leaving anyone behind. Yeah, I’d be lonely but I’d be able to go anywhere. Whenever I wanted, for however long I wanted.
Outside of that, best case scenario, I’m a writer for a TV series in LA and I fly back on weekends. Every weekend.
Which may work for some people but that sounds draining to me. So if not that, then what?
Here’s where my friends and I disagree: I hear a lot that if Josh loved me, he’d follow me and let me see where my dreams take me. He wouldn’t put his career ahead of mine.
But, to me, it’s selfish.
Is he really supposed to throw away his career, his dream job, to follow me for a maybe? For something that could blow up in my face any minute? How is that fair to him? He has an amazing (well-paying) job that he loves in a city he loves and he’s near his family. I’m supposed to take him away from all of that to what? Go back to working as a stagehand because everywhere else is unionized and despite his AMAZING resume you have to start from the bottom and work your way up in the bigger cities.
Feels kind of cruel.
A lot of my favorite authors came up against this too. They fell in love with someone early in their career and realized it wouldn’t be fair to ask the person they loved to follow them. So they broke up. And many of those authors are successful but still talk about those past loves. And how hard it was.
I don’t want that either.
So I guess I’m trying to cheat the system. I’m trying to have a growing career but also a relatively healthy relationship. And unfortunately, it feels like I’m betting against the house.
Also. Quick aside: I hate the debate of “can women have it all?” Yes. The answer is yes. This post is not to say we can’t. It’s to say that it’s hard but it’s not impossible. And to that question, I always say back “Can men?! Why don’t put these pressures on men? Are you assuming men also don’t want families and partners?”
The point to all of this is it’s tricky. Not impossible but tricky.
So much of my relationship has been long distance. So much of it is hoping that on the way back home I’m still into it and he hasn’t changed the locks. And honestly, sometimes we aren’t okay. Sometimes it takes us a minute to click back. And the longer I’m gone, the harder it is to come back.
I’ve asked a
Then there’s the other side of it: resentment.
For years, I resented Josh because I wasn’t applying to things out of state because he, at the time, said if I left we’d be done. And so I didn’t. And then blamed him for my career not moving forward. And I hated him for it.
But here’s the thing. I made that choice. I chose not to apply because I chose him. You can’t resent somebody for a choice you made. Like was it shitty choice? YES. Should he have been more flexible? Probably. But I made the choice to choose him and that’s not on him. That’s on me.
We end up resenting our partners so much. Because they’re not making time for us in our already insane schedule. Because they’re not pulling their weight financially. Because they’re not supporting us in the way we’d like. Because they question why we’re doing this to ourselves.
And that last one is the worst. Because sometimes we ask ourselves that same question and are afraid of the answer.
We’re all betting against the house and hoping to win. Big.
I know at this point you’re like “Rachel what does this have to do with playwriting and travel? Do we really need to read your dirty laundry?”
I’m sharing all of this to say, as we get closer to Valentine’s Day, that if you’re an artist and you’re in a relationship, shit’s hard. I see you.
And I’m here if you want to RAGE about how your partner isn’t pulling their weight or how it’d be so much easier to sleep around because unfortunately being able to sleep around in the arts is actually helpful, or if you’re in an open relationship and the person outside of your primary relationship AND your primary partner are both mad at you (the literal worst).
Being an artist and also trying to add domesticity is a whole other level.
I’m lucky that years later Josh is okay with me leaving so long as there is a definite and locked in return date. I’m also lucky that Josh and I have no interest in having children and we’re not exactly the most domestic pair in the world. We’re young and open and that works for us.
(To the artists with children out there, you’re truly superpeople. I couldn’t even imagine how much more complicated this all gets with children.)
And who knows how long it’ll work? Constantly being on the road, traveling across the country from one opportunity to another, hoping to maybe breakthrough. That’s a lot to ask of a partner (or partners).
It’s a wild ride. Who knows how it all ends? But as T-Swift says in my fifth favorite song of hers “At least we were electrified.”
** I threw my foot down December 31st and told the universe if Arkansas wanted to keep me, it would have to show me. And it’s pretty wild. I think the universe heard me. I can’t say what’s going on yet but I’m definitely more interested in staying in Arkansas than I was about two months ago.