Flashback to this time last year: My husband had already been in France for 3 months while I was interning at a counseling center in Atlanta. We were both doing what we love, both pursuing our dreams, and both already sure that it wasn’t worth being separated by distance and time. In July when we had decided that I would stay back for the basketball season to finish the internship hours I needed to complete my master’s degree while my husband played abroad, we both thought it would be easy. So many couples we know and respect did it and we figured that we would both be so busy that the time would fly by. We were mistaken. The time crept and we were both miserable. Within a month, we decided that we would never spend a season apart again, no matter what.
As I reflect back on what I think was probably the hardest consecutive 9 months of my life thus far, I am so thankful that this season, not only are my husband and I together, but we also have our dog with us and are closer to family. I’m a firm believer that there is a lesson in every challenge that we face. So many times, I look back on the hard periods of my life in retrospect and have to smile to myself as I think, “God, I see what you were doing there. I see you putting in work.” As always, I am thankful for the lessons.
Being apart from my husband last basketball season taught me a lesson in community and how important it is to have friends who not only support and love you from afar but who will also show up for you. When my husband and I are together, it’s so easy for me to live in a bubble where it’s just the two of us. That’s the beauty of being married to someone who you truly do consider to be your homie, lover, and friend. But as many things are, it’s a gift and a curse. When my husband left for France, I realized just how alone I was in Atlanta. There were many occasions when I just wanted someone to come over and watch TV with me after a long day at work, and as I looked through my contacts, I realized that I didn’t have many accessible friends. Sure, I have friends in other cities, and even other countries that I have made through the years and grown close to through basketball, but in my hometown, besides one lifelong friend that I have had since I was a child, I don’t have many people. What made it harder is that the few friends I do have had (rightfully so) gone on with their lives in the time that I had been living in the DJ-and-Allison-bubble. They had their own communities that no longer included me. What you might not know about me is I am the most introverted extrovert ever. I like people, but don’t feel comfortable in groups of people I don’t know unless I have a wingman, so it’s hard for me to attend large gatherings without a buddy. Of course, my buddy is usually my husband, so with him away, I became a recluse. Life without a community is lonely, and as I look back, I realize that I need one.
Being apart from my husband taught me a thing or two about being independent. Now, let me start by saying that I am pro women’s rights, but, if I’m honest, I am in no way a feminist. I’m traditional and I believe that there are things that are better suited for men to do and things that are better suited for women to do. Not to say that women can’t do the things that men can do, but when it comes to trash, cars, yardwork, weapons/protection, and other “manly” things, I would prefer that my husband take the lead. There are so many things that I was forced to do on my own while my husband was away, and it showed me that even though I may not choose to do these things in the future, I am fully capable. I can fix things. I can figure out what’s wrong with a car and get it taken care of. I can move out of a 3-story townhome and into a 2-bedroom apartment without a man (which I did, with the help of my mom). I can lift heavy things, reach tall shelves, kill bugs, and take the safety off of a gun. I am woman, hear me roar.
Being apart from my husband last basketball season, most importantly, I learned that Alicia Keys knew what she was talking about when she said, “some people want it all, but I don’t want nothing at all, if I ain’t got you, baby.” I completely understand why so many wives and girlfriends choose to spend the season at home while their husbands play abroad. We have dreams that are just as important as the dreams that our men have and deserve to have a chance to live them out. On top of that, because it can be hard to get a work visa in most countries and complicated finding jobs to work remotely from overseas, staying home allows for two incomes. At the end of the day, I learned that for me, none of that matters. Professionally, my husband and I both had great years last year. He played really well and I was killing it in my internship, to the point where since, I have received several job offers. But, you know what? For us, emotional and mental wellbeing is more important than all of the success and money in the world, and we are our best mentally and emotionally when we’re together. I learned that without my husband by my side, the sun just doesn’t shine as bright, food just doesn’t taste as good, and the best of times don’t feel that great.
I feel like throughout the last couple of years, God has been actively working in my life to teach me so many things. One of myprayers these days is now that I have the knowledge, that God will help me to apply all of these lessons. This season, I’m being intentional about utilizing all of the things that I learned while my husband and I were apart. I’m joining a graduate chapter of my sorority to ensure that I have a community in our new temporary home. When my husband has away games, I’m relishing my newfound sense of independence as I get out and do things that I once upon a time wouldn’t have been comfortable doing without him. I’m enjoying the fact that we’re together, because regardless of the circumstances, that is the most important thing to both of us.