I can’t escape construction right now. All day, every day, the lot next to the bungalow echoes with the sounds of dirt being moved and nail guns forcing siding onto wooden planks as the dilapidated purple house next door gets a total remodel, complete with a pool and a carriage house. When I pull out of my street, I spend an extra 5-10 minutes stuck in traffic on College Avenue as Indianapolis moves forward with their new rapid transport plan, which happens to have a station in my literal backyard. As I continue my drive to work, I move to one lane traffic and pray that my early morning alarm will keep me from being stuck behind concrete trucks since I-69 has been undergoing repairs the entire four years of my commute to Muncie. Once I make it through my work week, I pack up my SUV and drive 4 1/2 hours to Muskegon, MI where my husband has recently started a job and where we just bought a condo by the lake. I stopped counting how many times I was slowed down by construction on US-31 while driving to Michigan last Friday, but I know it was at least four times. When I finally arrived in the arms of my husband at the doorstep of our new house, I remembered that our brand new condo is in an incomplete subdivision surrounded by empty lots, bulldozers, and backhoes.
These are just a few examples of the exterior construction that has become part of my daily routine. But both the Indianapolis bungalow and the Michigan condo are also undergoing serious interior changes which means that I’ve been living among piles of boxes since April and currently have two couches in one house while I’m sitting on a lonely fitness ball to watch television in the other house. One house has all the pots and pans and the other house has all the knives. One house needs new curtains and the other house has no blinds. My unborn child has a nursery in each house, but one nursery is missing a dresser and the other one is missing a chair. The bungalow has a fully stocked pantry and the condo doesn’t even have salt and pepper.
While I seek to create order in the midst of the exterior and interior construction that surrounds me, I have to acknowledge that this mess is a pretty good representation of how I’ve been feeling inside. A couple of my devoted readers have reached out to me to remind me that I haven’t posted in a while and I honestly haven’t been sure if I wanted to keep blogging. In the last couple of months, I’ve already quit the Junior League and the YMCA and my daily Instagram posts and most of my social outings. I know that I’ve been intentionally trying to make room for my new job and my new baby, but I also know that some of these cancellations are because I am sad and just don’t want to do as much right now.
This is the reason:
Husband and I have been on a doctoral degree adventure for the last four years. We’ve been taking tests and throwing parties and writing journal articles and trying new restaurants. We really rocked out what it can look like to get your doctorate. In the background of our recipe creating and Netflix watching and conference attending and baby making, we knew we both had to enter a match process for our residencies. People would ask us if we were nervous about ending up in the same state and we said, “Yes, but we’re confident that we’ve planned well enough so that won’t happen.” We took prayer walks and made a prayer tree and read prayer books and volunteered at church and paid our tithe and baked cookies for program directors and all the other “good things” you’re supposed to do in order to get what you want. You probably already figured out where this is going, but in summary: our prayers didn’t work. Husband and I ended up in different states for residency. I’ll be raising our son in Indiana for a year while he completes his hardest residency year alone in Michigan. We are going to try to see each other as much as possible on the weekends, but our work schedules and Michigan winters may make that a challenge. We danced on the words of people who told us, “Married people are apart all the time,” “It’s only a year,” and “It’s crazy to think that you’ll both get doctorates and end up in the same state.” We were too confident. We thought our love would be stronger than the match system’s algorithm.
Most people don’t understand. They tell me that “It happens” and “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “You can do anything for a year.”
They don’t know how much I love my husband.
This blog, The Love Bungalow, has been a whole testament to my marriage and our little old house and the life we’ve created in Indianapolis with our friends and family. We wrap presents and change sheets and organize our cabinets and kill spiders and order take-out and do a million other things that bring us together in a thousand different ways. I don’t know what blogging looks like without my husband in the next room who reads every post, dresses up to join me for restaurant openings, and always believes my excuses to go out to eat since it’s “for the blog.”
For the last four years, I think I wanted to prove that I could “do it all.” I could commute 2 1/2 hours a day, I could get perfect grades, I could publish research, I could mentor new students, I could go to the gym 3x a week, I could volunteer, I could see my friends, I could maintain a successful blog, I could take cookies to meetings, I could offer to host events, I could remember birthdays, I could initiate new projects, and I could have a wonderful marriage in the midst of background voices who taunted that marriages and PhDs are a lethal combination. I don’t know if my life looked like that on the outside, but I felt like I could do a lot and handle even more.
But now I’m slowing down. I don’t know if it’s due to pregnancy or turning 30 or packing up my husband to move to a different state, but I can’t do it all right now. I consider my day to be a success if I make it to work on time and go to bed on time.
Yes, I know there are much bigger problems in the world. But Husband is my world. And yes, I know that these experiences will build resilience and challenge me in new ways, but I thought getting two masters degrees and a PhD was already enough of a test of my stamina and willpower. And I know that yes, it’s only a year. But a year is a long time when you’re doing life without the one you love.
On top of being apart from my Husband for the next year, this change also means that I have to leave Indianapolis next year. I have to pack up my precious bungalow and leave my friends, family, church, job opportunities, and taco shops for at least two years of living in rural Michigan. And it doesn’t help that Husband’s new job is a far cry from his dream job. The residency match process was full of unpleasant surprises, which meant Husband had to change his preferred medical speciality and give up some of his career dreams along the way.
My psychology background tells me that people tend to return to their natural state of equilibrium within six months of a disturbance. It’s been three months so far, so I’m 1/2 way there. But until then, I’m living in the construction piles. I’m admitting that I’m disappointed and discouraged and still trying to figure out what happened. I’m asking for help. I’m unpacking boxes and shopping for curtains. I’m not pushing myself towards radical acceptance just yet. I’m accepting the grace and support of the people who love and care for me, even though I now have a bedtime of 9pm. If the purple house next door is taking a year to remodel, I can grant similar care to the complexity of my human emotions.
I’m not sure what The Love Bungalow will look like for the next couple of months. I never sought out to be an “influencer” or to be one of the most popular blogs in Indianapolis, but I did intend to document my life. And this is my life. I am going to take a break from partnerships, sponsored posts, and blog events for a bit while I wrap up my pregnancy and adjust to being a new mother. But after that, who knows! But I do know that whether it’s online or in real life, I’ll keep building.