Sunday, September 9, 2012

Running On Empty



I could hear the siren grow nearer as I exited the hospital toward my car in the parking lot. "They're going to make it," I thought. Curtis's pager started vibrating after I'd been at the hospital for over an hour, and as he rushed to the ER, I took my time heading out to my car. We'd shared helpings of fruit and fresh gyros, chatting through the football game playing softly on the call room television. It's the last of several nights I have spent lingering at the hospital when Curtis has had a few free moments. After two weeks of night shifts, I am mentally finished. His fourteen hour shifts cross perfectly over my twelve hour days of teaching and coaching, and unless his free moments coincide with mine, we don't see each other for days.

We've been writing a lot in the book lately, sharing events and thoughts and random life happenings on paper rather than in the dark when we finally climb into bed. On Wednesday, after the epic wind storm, school was canceled because so much of the city was without power. Curtis made it home with enough energy to survey all the fallen trees outside before crashing into bed for much of the day. I cooked and cleaned and worked on projects neglected, and even though he slept almost his whole time at home, it was nice to be close by.

I couldn't help by notice how much these times of night shift remind me of college: hanging out in a common area on generic couches, constantly interrupted by people who may or may not walk through without interacting with either of us, dreading the inevitable separation at the end of the night where I have to drive home in the dark. Sustaining a relationship on sporadic visits ended suddenly with unpredictable pagers beckoning is work I dread. It is always exhausting--and not just because I inevitably go to bed later than I meant to.

This week we look forward to going back to "normal": long hours worked at the same time. And though I haven't accomplished as much as I would have liked in the last two weeks, I know it's because I was lingering over relationships instead.

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