My trip to Paris last fall almost ended my relationship. Or at least that’s the way some people regarded my solo European adventure. Some folks had questions: Was my boyfriend going? No? Why not? How did he feel about me going alone? In a “romantic” city like Paris, why would I want to be alone, one friend asked.
The alone part did get me when I first got there and I did miss my boyfriend. He would have loved the jazz I heard one night and the food and the Picasso Museum. One day, I do want to see Paris with him, but the reactions of people to me seeing Paris without him surprised me.
It probably shouldn’t have.
We’re often held to someone else’s standard for what our life should look like. Single women know this well. I mean, why aren’t you married? Or a mother?
But, just as the trip made me think about all the art and creativity I wanted in my life, it also got me thinking about love of my own design.
In 2012, I went to my first writing residency, a month in the woods of upstate New York with some great artists. It was a transformational experience. I started work on a novel by day and got philosophical with the other artists over wine at night. I left knowing that I would go to residencies again, as many as would have me.
I asked my partner at the time how he would feel if I went away for weeks at a time, 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks. That even if we got married and had kids, I would want some time away.
He said he was okay with it as long as it wasn’t an excuse to run away from our relationship. We broke up not long after, so his yes was never put to the test.
Some men would never have said yes to the idea. Some women would never consider leaving their loved ones for that long.
I’m not that woman. And along with other personality traits I’ve learned to accept, I know denying that feeling isn’t the answer. Having a partner who understands who I am and designing a relationship that looks just as the two people in the relationship want it to look is the answer.
Solo travel and time apart is good. Artistic pursuits will sometimes take precedence over cuddling. Intellectual conversations and current affairs interest are absolutely necessary. Anything can be made into a joke.
This is the way our relationship looks because it’s ours.
Runaway Bride is not my favorite romantic comedy, but there’s a part in there about eggs that always got me thinking. She changes her egg preference with every guy she dates and part of her journey to finding love with (too old for her) Richard Gere is determining just how she likes her eggs.
As an egg lover, I take this seriously. I like mine scrambled soft with salt. When I order those for breakfast, someone at the table might screw up their face and say, “Won’t those eggs by runny?”
They will be and I’ll eat them all because their mine.
The love that you find is yours too and whether it includes solo trips to Paris or every vacation spent no more than a foot away from each other, don’t let anybody tell you different.