Sometimes You’ve Got to Fix Your Mascara without a Mirror

Anti NJI get it.  Relationships are about compromise.  And compromise requires both parties to give in once a while.  But as The Wedding Date and I prepare to celebrate the one year anniversary of our first date, I feel like all the things I want are getting sacrificed to what he has to have.

And I’m not happy.

He called me yesterday just as I was getting ready to head into work for the evening and asked, “How much time do you have?  Oh.  Only fifteen minutes?  Well maybe I’ll tell you later.”

As you all know, “later” is never an option with a prelude like that.  So he told me then and I was right: state workers are required to reside in the state in which they work.  In other words, our plans for happily-ever-after are basically f*cked.

It wouldn’t matter if he worked in Pennsylvania—the state of Philadelphia, of me, and of all things wonderful— but he works in New Jersey and having grown up in New Jersey, I have less than no desire to return.  In fact, I’ve spent most of adult life trying to transcend my “Jersey girl” origins, eagerly reminding people that I was in New Hampshire actually, so I’m really a New Englander at heart.

But it’s not just New Jersey.  It’s the suburbs.  I hate the suburbs.  I abhor the suburbs.  I loathe the suburbs.  And if I could think of more verbs that mean the same thing, I’d use them too because frankly, I’m pretty sure I would shrivel up and die if I had to leave the city.

I grew up in a small town in central New Jersey.  Then I moved to Baltimore to go to school, to Philadelphia after that, to London for my MA and finally back to Philadelphia.  As long as I’ve been old enough to have a say, I’ve said “no” to the suburbs and “yes” to happy hours, mass transit, coffee shops, libraries, world class theaters and all the amenities that come with city living.

I don’t have a car.  And I don’t have an office.  I’m a writer.  And I work in the arts.  I’m in the theater at least two nights a week (make that two times a day this time of year) and even though I’ve tried to wrap my head around the idea of moving to the suburbs and meshing my life with The Wedding Date’s (“Maybe if we move the TV we could fit a desk in the corner?”) I just can’t.

At least not after yesterday’s conversation.

That’s because TWD’s life is complicated.  Mine is too—I know that life with me isn’t exactly a walk in the park—but his is complicated in difficult ways.  I won’t go into all of the details but I will say this: building a future together is going to require some pretty significant sacrifices.  And I was willing to make them so long as some part of that future could take place in Philadelphia.

But now he’s taken that away from me too.

I didn’t know what to say.  By the time I hung up the phone and headed into the studio, I was a total mess.  My boss started giving me all sorts of directions about which studio I’d be in, and when I’d have to switch to the other studio to accommodate the jazz classes, and how so-and-so didn’t have her tap shoes yet because they were on back order but I barely heard a word she said because all I could think was “I’ve got to fix my mascara.  I can’t have 49 girls know I was just in parking lot crying.

So I took out my make up and started applying it right there in the lobby, no mirror or anything.  My boss stopped mid sentence, half appalled, half impressed, and asked, “Are you really going to do that here?

“Yes,” I grumbled.  “I don’t have a choice.”  Then, as an afterthought, I added, “Boyfriend drama.”

She fell silent.

Then asked, “Are you okay?”

I gave her a brief rundown, expecting her to tell me I should have never gotten mixed up with a man who has kids in the first place but she simply shook her head and said, “That’s how it goes.  You have to work these things out.”

And she should know.

What she didn’t know was that she was talking to the queen of cut-and-run.  I’ve ended relationships over less.  And yet I don’t want to end it with The Wedding Date.  I want to make it work.  I just don’t see how and I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only creative thinker in our relationship.  I’m tired of feeling like his needs take precedence because they are needs and my needs are really just wants.  It’s not fair.

He texted me afterward to apologize for dumping the news on me before work and to inform me that he was busily downloading to entire 1995 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice so we could get started with my favorite shows now that we’ve finally run through two entire seasons of Game of Thrones, and concluded his message with “I love you, etc. etc. etc.”

But I hope he’s prepared watch the wet Darcy scene over and over so I can pretend I’m Elizabeth Bennet and that my life isn’t so terribly complicated.  (Or, at the very least, that I’m going get an estate with ballrooms and ponds and servants once we work everything out.)

44 thoughts on “Sometimes You’ve Got to Fix Your Mascara without a Mirror

  1. As an Avid follower I never post comments but love reading your blog. I want you to know I believe you should be single. You are just to selfish to really make a marriage work but that is just my Opinion Good Luck with all of it :)

    • Wow Kbomb, talk about dropping a bomb. Kat writes for all of our’s entertainment and such, but be kind. Sort of a rash or extreme judgment / observation on your part.

    • Wow. Just Wow. First off, since no one seems to be commenting, I felt the need to. Gotta stick up for family.
      Your command of the English language is terrible. I had to read through your comment three times to make sure that I understood it all.
      I am in a successful marriage. There needs to be some selfishness as well as selflessness in each relationship to make it work. Otherwise, we would all be door mats or bullies.
      This is Kat’s place to vent. My blog is the same. My place to vent. If I were to follow your logic, I should be single, not have a child or have been stoned to death when I felt alone and ignored while everyone hovered around my husband’s bedside while he was having cancer surgery around my birthday.
      You are very rude and selfish your self, not to mention down right cruel.
      Final comment….. Karma is a dish best served cold.

  2. *sending a big hug!* For one, you are normal…it’s ok to feel bad especially when you feel your wants aren’t part of the ‘give and take’ in a relationship but with time both of you will learn to compromise…baby steps… Love and reason will prevail and TWD and you will make choices that are best for both of you…just communicate at every point.
    P.s. Excellent job with the mascara😃!

  3. Oh, wow. I am blown away by the above comment. I’m just going to leave that one alone.

    So here’s what I have to say: First, I think you should stop calling your feelings about living in a city a “want.” With your job, it is (pretty much) a need. You are a writer. Trying to be a writer in the suburbs is like trying to be, well… me. And there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t resent the fact that we have no say in where we live. Also, you write show reviews. I’m pretty sure my suburban ‘hood’s clubhouse doesn’t host any of those, and the Homeowners’ Association certainly wouldn’t appreciate my published critiques of their meetings. If I ever decided to show.

    Second, relationships ARE about compromise, but the compromise has to happen on both sides. Granted, TWD has a couple more anchors that make it difficult for him to make a major change, but here’s the thing: Every state has state jobs, either in the cities or in the ‘burbs. But only cities have city jobs. If, in the long run, he can’t consider a move to a city (other than Jersey — trust me — I understand not wanting to go “home) because of the kids, their mom, his job, or whatever, it’s just not going to work. Moving there is one “compromise” you already know you wouldn’t be happy with.

    That doesn’t make you “selfish.” That makes you realistic.

    • Well said Katie…
      I think compromise is important. But not if it means that you pretend like your needs don’t mean anything. There may be a way to make this work, but that way is not going against your heart, your career and the life you want to have.
      To be a compromise both people have to participate and sacrifice. Both people have to gain.

      • I agree– thanks Katie! You’re right. I feel like I NEED to live in a city but I feel as though my NEEDS are often perceived as WANTS. I wouldn’t even mind moving to a city in New Jersey; I could get over my issues with Jersey and moving “home” but he’s anti-Trenton and I can’t really conceive of living in Newark, which is, as far as I recall, the only other option for NJ.

        On another note, I would TOTALLY look forward to reading your take on Homeowner Assoc meetings– if anyone could find amusement in those, it would be you!

  4. Oh Kat, I can feel your hurt, pain and yes, even anger. However, I know that it comes from a place that you are not used to: being in love and needing to be vulnerable.

    Every relationship has their major turning points, and this is one of them. I hope that when TWD reads this, he understands that your comments are coming from “this place.” Without going into detail, I hope he understands that you two need to sit down and talk this, and the other recent issues, over in person. I fear that this generation does way too much electronically.

    As for judging Kat without understanding that as a writer she does vent publicly, but that doesn’t mean that she tells ALL. This is the mama wolf coming out, so please be kind, she is not in a good head space today.

  5. I am sorry that you are having to deal with this, they are never easy. I hope you are able to work this out but if you can’t remember it i was meant to be. I know, that cliche makes me angry in times like these but they are true. Your experiences and relationships are setting you up for something better and even though you can’t see it now, the best is yet to come!

    Hang in there and keep us posted!

  6. Cherry Hill is a very nice ‘suburb’ that is so close to Philly that it would accommodate your line of work and it is almost too nice to be considered part of NJ. And there are other areas that surround Philly in NJ that could work equally well. It sure is better than if he lived in New Hampshire or Idaho.
    You can make it work once you get over the initial ‘what the heck’…… The NJ part around Philadelphia is so far removed from the northern part of NJ that you can almost fake yourself into thinking it is Pa…. except for tax time…….
    Really good luck!!

      • I was going to suggest Cherry Hill as well-my BF’s family lives there, and when we went to visit, it was super easy to hop on the little train thingy they got so we could head into the city for a while.

        I’m not up on East Coast cities, but what about Princeton? I had a friend in college from there, and she said it was pretty much the only city in NJ worth living in. Of course, she may have been a little biased.

  7. If you came to London then you wouldn’t have to think about State issues. Just country issues! And then you would be with me! AND we could look for that man who owns a country estate! But I like TWD… May what the two of you really need is a new start in a new country! How about the UK???

  8. Does it matter where you live, as long as you’re together? Dale and I have lived in some real rat-holes in not ideal locations. Once, we lived in a basement apartment/cave in Charlottesville that had a living room the exact size of our area rug, (in other words, it was small), one window, and lots of bugs. When we moved back to Philly, we rented a duplex, basically sight unseen, that hadn’t been cleaned properly in years, and the windows were so grimy you couldn’t even see out of them. Not my dream location! I see what you’re saying, but I think what you don’t see is that, no matter where you live, you’ll be forging your way together, solving problems together, fighting it out probably, but always, together. And these are some of the best times of your lives. You don’t see it yet, because you’re focusing on the obstacles, but you’ll look back one day and wonder why you worried so much about where to live. THIS is the fun part. :-)

    • I like the concept of solving problems together and fighting it out but always together. It’s hard but it stands true. It’s hard to find someone you want to be with and once you find, hang it on. Compromises are necessities but when both parties are willing to open their hearts and to give each other happiness – nothing is impossible.
      Kat, I wish both of you the best :)

    • Very true. The other day he was asking me if I’d be okay with bringing his “old” couch into our new digs if/when we get them. I was like “Of course! They’re clean, they’re black, they’d go with anything, why wouldn’t I want them?” Granted there was that blog post I wrote a while back about bachelors and their black leather couches but he takes really good care of his things and there’s nothing wrong with his couch. He was shocked but I told him that I don’t mind having to “struggle” as long as we’re together. Maybe I’ll eventually get to a place where I don’t even mind where that struggle is taking place…

      And thank you for the impromptu lunch date yesterday, Pam– I needed it!

  9. Why must it be suburb or city or nothing? Why do you even need to live together in the foreseeable future? Not sure if anyone has suggested this, but why not think less conventionally?ever heard of Living Apart Together? It’s a documented and growing trend amongst young and middle-aged professionals who find that, for myriad reasons, living together (even after marriage) just isn’t tenable. I’m actually a case in point- my man and I have the most incredible relationship (entering one year 7 months)…and we would live together in a heartbeat, but we can’t. He works for the city of Philly, so MUST live within city boundaries…I am a professor at rural state university in Lehigh County- about 60 miles away. This is our biggest obstacle, but in our LAT status, we have the best (compromise) of both worlds. We both own homes, we both keep our jobs and pets (him, pit bull, me, cat), and we have the joy of anticipation every week as we know we will see each other every Fri- Sun night…we both have enough time during the week to get all of our work done and have time to ourselves…it really is the best of both worlds and I encourage you to consider it. Google “living apart together” – there are some really good articles about this trend…one from around 2007 I think on MSNBC and another more recent one in the NYT (I believe). When you open the possibilities to less conventional options, you may find a good solution that will work beautifully for both of you. :)

    • I am actually ALL for this! I mean its not my first choice but I’m pretty independent, and at times I can be a bit difficult to live with… but TWD is less convinced. He says he’s “too Latino” for such unconventional living arrangements.

      But I’m glad to hear its working for you :) It may not be for everyone but in this day and age, I say why not?

  10. I too loathe the suburbs. Children from a previous marriage are important, but relationships are about compromise. If you are thinking about heading towards marriage at some point, you and TWD need to be the top two priorities in that relationship. If that’s not the case, it’s time to reconsider where you fit in.

  11. This is a rough situation. I almost ended up in St. Louis because of the husband, but luckily he decided to come to Chicago when I got the better job between the two of us. I know the solution to your problem isn’t that simple, but I hope this works out for you.

      • He’s from Chicago, so it was a matter of moving back for him. Now that he’s seen how much better Chicago is for his career (he’s a musician), he’s been okay. But he does miss St. Louis for the independence it gave him. He really liked being on his own and having to be more self-reliant. So he still misses it, but he’s happy to be here as well. Most importantly, he doesn’t regret his choice.

  12. The fact that a state employee has to live in the state in which they work is absolutely crazy to me. I know for a fact that is not true in Georgia or South Carolina. I grew up on a border town in Georgia, my favorite police officer lived in South Carolina, and so did a few of my public high school teachers. The police officer couldn’t drive his cruiser home at night, because it was outside of the jurisdiction, but other than that, it wasn’t a problem.

    Damn, sorry, I’m a lawyer, I had to look it up. Here is the law – http://www.state.nj.us/csc/about/news/safety/pdf/NJ%20First%20Act%20Residency%20memo.pdf.

    It just went into effect a YEAR ago. That is total crap. Honestly, I would question the validity of that law under the commerce clause and say that it might not be constitutional. I took con law a long time ago, so I wouldn’t quote me on that, but that law FEELS wrong.

    I bet it gets repealed in a few years.

    • THANK YOU! Looking up that memo was on my list of things to do today because I wasn’t sure if TWD had all of the information. Its ridiculous, and complicated but I’m hung up on item #6 now– the one about EXCEPTIONS to the rule! (I knew they had to be in there somewhere…) Of course no one will tell you what sort of situations warrant an exception but people DO get them.

  13. Kat, I truly feel your pain.

    Two years into a relationship, I’m still trying to figure out how to take two careers, two lifestyles, and two sets of religious ideals into account.

    I get not wanting to leave the city – it was hard for me after New York, London, Las Vegas… but watch your Jersey hate. There are some pretty intelligent, sophisticated, and interesting people here ;). And we make semi-daily commutes to Philadelphia. I agree with the above poster who suggested Cherry Hill as a possible compromise in setting down roots.

    Is it ideal? No. But the reason I’m still here and not back in London is because I love someone, and we’re still trying to make it work. Our jobs are so far apart that there is still no hope of living together in the near future.

    I was ready to give up after our recent vacation, when he dropped a bombshell that he had to move – yet again – and still couldn’t be anywhere near me. In fact, we’re farther apart than ever. I was ready to end it.

    Then he flew down south for a job interview and turned it down. In large part for me.

    Can you see TWD making these kinds of sacrifices? If you can, you should keep trying, keep compromising. You’re incredibly strong and self-assured, and you’d never compromise if it wasn’t worth it. I think the fact that you’re still there says it all.

    • I was touched by your ‘keep trying’ part, Meghan. It’s hard for others to be in your shoes but I see where you are coming from – Compromises – it’s all worth it for the person you love :) Keep going and stay strong!!

  14. All great suggestions, and I too, know of couples who live apart together, or whatever the catch phrase is. In fact Kat, someone at Trenton Meeting has this relationship. You and TWD should talk to him at least for investigative purposes, even if you aren’t at that road yet. I believe he also works for the state of NJ.

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  16. So I’m confused. His job requires him to live in Jersey. Your job is in Philly and not in Jerssy. Why do you have to quit your job to find a new one? Why can’t he? When you are 45 and sacrificed all of your wants and needs, you will be resentful because you are feeling that now. The one compromise I see is living on the border close to Philly and in some crappy Jersey town, or both of you quit and find a new career path in some other fab city. Bottom line, boys are stupid and never get it. Why are women always expected to compromise…meaning give up their dream for their man? Now I’m really in a lather and think boys are super stupid.

    • I agree with you on some points– it does seem like more often women are the ones expected to give something up– but in this case there are a few other factors at play that I haven’t mentioned for the sake of maintaining at least some of TWD’s privacy. Suffice it to say, leaving his job isn’t really an option for him right now. That said, he actually called me after reading this comment and said, “I just want you to know, this isn’t a gender thing. This isn’t because me asking you to move because I make more money or my job is more important than yours… you know that right?” And I do actually believe him in this case.

      The crappy part is I would be TOTALLY willing to start over someplace completely new so long as it was a city and so long as we were both doing it (say Boston or Providence) but he’s just about as against this idea as he is the thought of “living apart together”… so, yes, I agree with your final statement to some extent :)

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  18. Serious suggestion: Forget Newark, but would you consider living in a town like Montclair, that’s so close to NYC, you’d feel like you live there? Montclair is not exactly the suburbs, more like an artsy college town, and again, easy access to the ultimate of cities. Other towns between Montclair and Newark have even quicker train access to the city, but Montclair is really nice. This is just one example, point is, it’s not insurmountable. You and TWD so obviously both want to be together.

    • It’s a thought. I spent a lot of time in Montclair as a kid because I performed with a company that rehearsed there. TWD is familiar with Montclair too but I’m not sure he’s so keen to return… but we can add it to the list! Thanks for the suggestion :)

      • My pleasure. The big thing is, when you’re a writer and a generally artistic type, easy bus and train access to the places you like to hang out is the next best thing to actually residing in the ideal spot. And wherever you reside, when you come back from your urban hangouts, you’ll be coming home to The Wedding Date.

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