Life / Sex & relationships

Moving Forward in Tandem

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Until yesterday, I hadn’t talked with my partner for more than three weeks.

I’m making that sound more dramatic than it is. Maybe. Rachel got back from a three-week trip late on Sunday night. She had a great time on a series of well-deserved adventures, the highlight of which was, I’m pretty sure, seeing Kate Bush perform live in London. (I would like point out for the record that Rachel saw Kate Bush with the Danish girl I had a fling with back in the summer of 1995, a situation that I think wins me — and maybe her — today’s “Deep Lez” award for the blogosphere. Apparently I like girls who like Kate Bush.)

It’s not like we didn’t communicate when Rachel was gallivanting around Europe and I was, um, here, making lunches and driving kids to soccer practice and doing ALL THE COOKING OH MY GOD SO MUCH COOKING! We managed to get in a few phone calls, as well as fairly regular text messages and the occasional FaceTime chat. But with kids to manage and phone plans to consider and the time difference and busy schedules, we didn’t have a lot of time for in-depth conversation while she was away.

And then she got home and slammed, as parents do, immediately from travel mode into full-on family mode, tempered by a hefty dose of jetlag. “No buffers,” we like to remind each other when one or both of us returns from a trip: “You don’t get any time to slowly re-enter family life.” Which meant that, other than a few moments of basic, late-night/early-morning/on-the-fly catch up, we didn’t have a whole lot of time to process until yesterday, during our weekly walk.

For years now, since the kids were babies, we’ve scheduled a weekly, daytime walk together. We almost always go to the same place. We do the same, five-kilometer route each week, admiring the same landscape as it changes throughout the seasons. But the point isn’t so much the scenery as it is a chance to catch up with each other. There’s something about the action of walking, of moving forward in tandem, facing the same direction, that inspires some of our best, most productive conversations. And even when those conversations are mostly about scheduling and household budgets and holiday plans, they’re still good conversations. Or, at least, necessary ones, which pretty much amounts to the same thing.

Some walks are better than others. There have been times where we’ve been almost silent for most of the 5K, times when we’ve broached a touchy subject only near the very end of the route. There have been times where one or both of us have felt like turning around and walking in the opposite direction. But most often, we tend to feel better — more connected, more grounded with each other and within the daily chaos of family life — after we walk.

We took our walk the day before she left. And yesterday, we went out again. The absolute green of summer had shifted into the browns and yellows and reds of fall. And we caught up — just an hour of a busy life, but so necessary to keep it functional.

FEATURE PHOTO CREDIT: SUSAN GOLDBERG

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