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LATINA LIBERTY
A college-bound Cuban challenges traditional expectations, hell-bent on leaving restrictive parents and Miami behind
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ASSISTING AND AVOIDING MOM
After tumultuous years, she is still devoted to family—from a distance
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MOVING UP AND MOVING ON
Following love to grad school does not work out as planned
Ever hear that piece of advice about not following your high school sweetheart to college? Well, no one warns you about making that same mistake four years later, when you and your college girlfriend are considering running off to grad school together.

Let this be that warning.

I'm living proof that no matter what sort of idealistic future or fairy tale ending you hope for, love is a complicated motherfucker and life may have other plans. As someone who's lived it, I'll be the bearer of bad news—chances are that it will not work out.

My most recent relationship was wonderful, for the most part. We met after our junior year at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts when we were both working orientation for incoming students—though I had taken notice of her years before. All things considered, that relationship will probably be the basis for comparison in the future. It was the first time I had ever really been in love with someone. You'll notice I'm writing in the past tense here, as is the case with all good things...

It has been my experience that every relationship begins with what I like to call the "honeymoon phase," wherein both parties put on a masquerade, trying to be everything they think the other person wants.

Girls in this stage of a relationship can be found wearing the oversized jersey of a team they don't know, and faking their best smile amidst drunken, overweight, paint-covered men, while sitting downwind from the grill in a stadium parking lot two hours before kickoff, reveling in their first tailgating experience.

Likewise, guys in the honeymoon phase can be seen at the mall with armfuls of shopping bags because a "quick trip to the mall" turned into a six-hour outing. We also willingly come to know the plotline of Grey's Anatomy, Project Runway, and/or Sex and the City.

In my case, a few months into our relationship, still in the throes of the honeymoon phase, my girlfriend broached the "What are you doing after graduation?" topic. Truthfully, I didn't know what I was doing that weekend, never mind following graduation.

We had a long talk. She was dead set on attending graduate school at Syracuse University, and suggested I apply. When I looked into it, there was a program that intrigued me, and so I did.

While sunbathing on a beach in Orlando on spring break, we both got calls from our families, saying that each of us had been accepted.

So the answer to the question "What are you doing after graduation?" was made for me. I was going to graduate school at Syracuse University with the girl I loved.

We elected not to live together because we knew neither of our families would support it, but did manage to find apartments only three addresses away from one another.

We moved to Syracuse about a month before our graduate programs were to begin, and that's when things went south. She would ask me for space only to call me less than a day later and ask why I hadn't called. I'd abandon my plans and come over, but a few hours later she'd be giving hints that she had things to do and I should go.

Looking back on it now, I feel confident in saying that she was unhappy, and thought either: a) it was only temporary, b) it wasn't temporary, but was afraid to hurt me because she knew that the real reason I moved was to be with her, or c) She had yet to come up with the best way to rip my heart out without getting her hands dirty.

Whatever the case was, she didn't do anything about it, and our relationship turned to quicksand. The more I tried to change who I was to try and keep things the same, the worse they got. The harder I tried to fix things, the further I sank. Needless to say, the relationship ended.

Looking back on it, I don't regret any part of our relationship. Nor do I regret moving to Syracuse. I'm happy I made that leap and moved upwards of 400 miles away from home. I feel that I'm better for it.

 
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