Friday, June 21, 2013

I Will Wait For You

As popular as it is right now, Mumford and Sons' I Will Wait frequently sticks in my head. This idea of waiting for the right person is a common and romantic theme in media. There is a suggestion that waiting for the the right person, known or unknown, will lead to a beautiful, albeit delayed, love.

"“...of all the hardships a person had to face none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”  Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

But what exactly are we waiting for? Commonly the idea of waiting for someone romantically insinuates one of two things: (1) The beloved is absent, such as in the instance of a typical WWII movie where the brave soldier goes to war while the pretty and worried beloved waits for him at home; (2) a body purity concern.

Waiting for an absent lover in our current society could be more readily portrayed in the form of long distance relationships where the partners are pulled apart from one another because of disparate career choices. Such partners have to deter other romantic possibilities as they wait to be reunited with their long-distance loves.

Waiting through absences is seen as romantic. What about waiting for a partner while remaining in his or her presence?

Sometimes waiting with a partner who is having emotional turmoil can be just as hard as waiting for an absent partner. Negative emotions are hard to carry in a relationship, and when life circumstances bring one partner down, the other suffers as well.

When life is hard partners don't always wait. In the documentary Happy one of the women interviewed reflects on a life-changing accident. The woman was run over by a truck, leaving her far less beautiful than she had been and bed ridden for many months. During this time of trial her husband didn't wait, instead choosing to leave her.

“Waiting hurts. Forgetting hurts. But not knowing which decision to take can sometimes be the most painful...”  José N. Harris, MI VIDA

In the documentary, she regains strength, she meets a new man, and has a happier life than she had before her accident. Cheerful, kind, creative, and resilient, she was a woman worth waiting for, and her first husband missed out on learning the capacity of her spirit.

Would the first husband have waited the same amount of time as the recovery period (8 months if I remember correctly), had the months been spent apart for a career concern? Perhaps waiting for an absent partner is in some ways easier than waiting for a partner to regain strength after facing emotional or physical damage.

As I put my life plans on hold to wait for Owen to finish school, I like to think of songs like I Will Wait. It helps me to remember the value of this waiting period as we continue to build our relationship in preparation to pursue our life together.

"Blessings may appear under the shape of pains, losses, and disappointments; but let him have patience, and he will see them in their proper figures."  Joseph Addison The Guardian 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Plan D

Plan A: Graduate from St. Olaf and enroll in grad school in Ft. Collins, CO in our respective fields.
Foiled: Owen was accepted to Iowa, but not Ft. Collins.

Plan B: Owen enters the PhD program in Iowa City, the following year I enter either the writing MFA program or the English PhD, and we buy a house.
Foiled: It turns out that you cannot apply to both the MFA program and the English PhD at the same time, which I only found after having applied to the impossible-to-get-into MFA program, which I didn't get into. Buying a house was more difficult than anticipated... Though we did eventually end up in a townhouse that we love.

Plan C: I work for a year and reapply to the MFA program. Owen's program progresses as usual.
Foiled: I again was not accepted to the MFA program. Owen's program proved entirely more difficult than expected.

Plan D: Go with the flow.

One of my favorite things about Iowa City:
The trees wear sweaters!
At times it feels like we have little to no control over how we spend our lives as financial, academic, emotional, and physical restraints keep us from achieving our plans. Yet, looking back, I am glad that so many of our plans didn't work. Had we both been accepted to Ft. Collins, we would be taking out student loans like crazy trying to pay for both school and rent, but the University of Iowa gives enough financial aid that we are actually paying back some debt. Besides finances, we've also discovered an interesting city full of creativity that we never knew existed. Had we not moved to Iowa, I would probably have never known about tree sweaters.

Also, living in Colorado would mean being much further away from our college friends, who have supported us and helped us through so much of the past two years.

Had we bought a traditional house, we would be in way over our heads by now, but our townhouse has fulfilled everything we wanted in a home without the stress of having to worry about the roof or the yard.

Though not getting into the MFA program was frustrating, I wouldn't trade my time working with the Arc for anything! Spending a year helping people with disabilities has made me a more patient, nurturing, and open person.

As much as we've felt like we didn't have control, we've certainly had to make plenty of choices. Confronted with difficulty, Owen had to choose to work his butt off fulfilling the requirements of his program. Faced with my own stumbling blocks, I've had to choose to keep trying new ways to find fulfillment.  By choosing to go with the flow, we've finally found a plan that can't get foiled.

We haven't entirely stopped making plans, but we don't necessarily think of our plans with the same urgency and anxiety to fulfill them. Now plans are merely a map of how to spend each day until something changes. My current plans of finding a job that allows me to use my bachelor's degree and pay off students loans has me applying to multiple jobs a week, as I simultaneously prepare to take on Arc shifts to pay the bills meanwhile.

I won't say that following Plan D is necessarily easy. The temptation to get this job or afford that item sometimes overwhelms the non-attachment attitude of going with the flow, but ultimately what else can we do? We have to choose to continue to keep moving forward no matter what does or doesn't work out for us. Until I know what I'm doing next, I'm going to keep writing, keep cooking, and maybe start learning some HTML... I don't have any concrete plans for the knowledge gained, but it can't hurt right?