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Friday, May 29, 2015

When loving someone means loving their neuroses

Last night, after a pretty long day, I kind of lost it. My boyfriend and I were talking about a trip I'm taking right after my move. I booked it before I knew we were moving, so I land in Newark, which would have been great if we were in Red Bank because I could hop on a New Jersey transit train, less so in the suburbs of Atlantic City. There's not really a way to change to the Philadelphia airport, and I got a good deal on the trip, so I'm keeping it.

Since I'll land around 10 p.m. on a weeknight, I suggested my getting a hotel near the airport or staying with family in New York that night, rather than trying to navigate getting home at night. He offered to pick me up, but the idea of asking him to drive a total of three hours at night seems ludicrous to me, along with activating my deep-seated fear of cars, which John Nash's death in a car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike has only exacerbated. Yes, I wear seatbelts, and am well aware that anything could kill me at any time, not just cars. But still, it seems like a chance I would so much rather not take.

So between deadlines and having walked a lot Wednesday in the sun while attending BEA and running errands, and the cumulative stress of packing and purging, all my fears about this move pretty much culminated in this discussion. Much as we each thought we were right, we also both had to concede that being "right" is almost irrelevant. I'm scared of cars, and yes, I might even learn to drive one again one of these days, but I'm never going to volunteer to be driven at night if I can help it. I'm in cars more than enough for my comfort, and will be plenty once I move. I don't pretend that public transport is failsafe or anything, but I also feel entitled to my fears. I try not to obsess over them, but I like to retain some sense of control.

Eventually, we agreed that I would make the decision about how I'd get home. I know it bothers him that I would waste time or money rather than just have him come pick me up, but part of loving someone is accepting that they have their own issues that aren't yours and you can't fix. My boyfriend loves someone who is living in suburbia and is afraid of cars. I've gotten so much better about this over the last two years, but it's a fear that goes way, way back, over 20 years, when I had a car accident a few blocks from home not long after getting my license. I truly feel safer being a passenger in a plane than in a car, and the more people try to talk me out of it, the more stubborn it makes me about it. I don't refuse to drive in cars, I just try to minimize my contact.

This is typical of the ways we approach life from vastly different perspectives. I know those differences can drive both of us up the wall. I get the urge to try to make someone understand what you think you understand, because I have that impulse too, but navigating those gaps, those places where you have to stop and put yourself in the other person's mindset and come to an understanding of how they see the world, is what, to my mind, bonds us together. When we finally settled on our agree to disagree solution, I felt relieved. It's hard to overemphasize how much the cost of a hotel room or a few hours of travel feel like nothing next to the worry I'm saving. I wasn't very eloquent last night, because this fear taps into something so raw and primal, it's hard for me to be. But his embracing me, phobias and all, made me confident about our future as we move for the third time in three years.

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