Moving to a new state alone hasn’t been easy.
I’ve known for a while that I would likely go to graduate school out of state. However, I didn’t predict that my husband would get a career position in Indiana just before I was scheduled to leave.
Getting a full-time job in the wildlife field requires a master’s degree. I hoped it didn’t. I tried for a year after undergrad to get a job, and failure after failure taught me that I needed more education. I applied all over the country, and when Penn State offered me a funded position in January it was a dream come true. It was around that time that the naturalist position at Spring Mill State Park was vacated. Naturalist jobs come up once every couple of years, and have dozens of applicants. Once someone lands a position, they generally retire from it. Wyatt’s first supervisor in the field recently retired after over 40 years at the same park. So you can imagine our excitement when Wyatt was offered the job at Spring Mill in March.
However, this created an obvious problem: our dream positions were approximately 500 miles apart. Our plan for the next two years essentially came down to a choice: either we live apart while I pursue a master’s degree, or one of us gives up our dream.
A lot of people have asked me how I can live apart from my husband for two years. This question can be expressed in quite a range of tones. Curious. Taken aback. Borderline accusatory. To some, this seems to suggest that maybe we aren’t as committed to this relationship as other married couples. That no one who really loved her husband would agree to move 500 miles away before they’d even been married a year.
However, I strongly disagree. I think it shows absolute commitment to one thing: making each other happy. Neither of us were willing to let the other give up just when our careers were blossoming into what we’d spent years in school for them to become. The last thing I wanted in the world was for us to get a few months or years or decades down the road and realize I resented him for not allowing me to follow my dreams, or vice versa. I’ve been with Wyatt since I was fourteen years old, and will be with him until we’re old and gray. I had to force myself to realize that two years of loneliness is nothing compared to the risk of a lifetime of marriage soured by resentment.
So, here we are. Texts, phone call, Skype sessions, and weekend visits will get us through the next two years or so. I’m sure there will be a lot of days when I wish I had someone to run errands with me, or join me in a Redbox and pizza night, or sample a new recipe I cooked. Some nights, my apartment will seem quiet and empty. But, I will make it. The pursuit of happiness is a bumpy road, and sometimes takes us down paths we didn’t think we’d ever follow. All I can do now is sit back and enjoy the people I meet, the places I go, and the things I discover in my research.
It will be hard, but I can do this.