|Danya and me at Pacific Northwest Ballet's opening night gala dinner in 2006|
One of the reasons I left PNB was because I felt the company didnt get to travel enough. Working 40 weeks a year in a distant city like Seattle, I felt like my feet were glued to the ground. As a hopeful student, I heard fabulous stories of dancers going on tour, seeing the world, and getting paid to do it. I worked hard to get into a big company that had a great history of touring. Being offered a job at PNB, a place that had a reputation for international touring, I fully expected to be visiting London, Hong Kong, and many other places. But after joining the company, touring barely happened more than a few times. While with the company, I traveled three times to the Vail International Dance Festival and once to the Joyce Theater in New York City. When I left the Pacific northwest, I figured that I might travel a little more since I was only tied down to a 22 week contract in Philadelphia. In typical fashion, when I ask the universe for something, I get exactly what I ask for, but in some completely ass-backwards way. I am not complaining, but freelancing full-time was not my expectation.
|My first time visiting L.A. at the Getty Museum - January 2006|
Living in Seattle brought us many challenges that actually made our relationship stronger in the long run. From stifled careers to passive-aggressive friendships to a tragic accident that left Danya incapable of walking for 3 months, we survived together and our bond grew stronger. One thing that we never had to deal with was spending time apart. By the time that we moved to Philly in 2011, I believe the longest we had been apart from each other since Danya's move to Seattle was 10 days when I traveled to Israel on a Birthright trip. Moving to Philadelphia was a choice we made together. While we were happy to leave Seattle behind, I don't think we quite expected things to be the way they are today.
I remember back in April when I traveled to Providence on my first gig as a full-time freelancer, I wrote a status update on Facebook about missing my partner. He gave a supportive response and thrown in there was something along the lines of, "we are in a part-time long distance relationship." My heart sank into the pit of my stomach and I thought to myself, "how did I get here?" Once I came to terms with the fact that my current career track meant that we would be spending a lot of time apart, I started figuring out ways to help make myself feel close to Danya, even when I am halfway across the world searching for the Aurora Borealis.
|My nightstand in Alaska|
|Another photo I bring wherever I travel|
One issue I have is that I am a constant worrier and get really anxious about the possibility of things that could happen, even if that possibility is unlikely. My friends think its a part of my Jewish blood, but genetics or not I am always worried that certain things are going to happen, like losing touch. In order to calm my worries, Danya and I always develop a plan before I leave town. For instance, I am writing this blog from seat 15A on my way to spend 3 months in Anchorage dancing with Alaska Dance Theatre. To ensure that we stay in the best touch possible, we have developed a plan to talk every evening before Danya goes to sleep (there is a 4 hour time difference) and to Skype once every weekend. We keep this plan loose, in the event that we are just too busy to talk. But the important part of this plan is that we have set an intention. Even if we don't have much to share with each other, we still get on the phone and talk for a minute or two. When you are used to seeing one another every day, it is easy to get into free flowing conversation. But when you are apart, the conversation tends to focus on what you have done during your day. If there isn't much else to talk about, there is no need to sit in awkward silence waiting to stir up conversation. If we have a lot to talk about, we spend more time chatting. But on days where we have less to talk about, we sum up our day and say goodnight. There will be more to talk about tomorrow and its not worth stressing that we didn't have much to share. As for Skype, having a visual conversation helps make me feel better when we've been apart for too long. Although you can't touch each other, you can at least feel like you are in the same room.
One particular challenge that took a bit more thought was missing important holidays, dates, and events with one another. For instance, Danya and my anniversary is coming up in 9 days. We won't get to spend this important milestone together. To make sure that we don't miss out on this special occasion, we moved the date of our anniversary ahead ten days. Last night, we went out for a nice dinner and went out dancing afterwards. Although we can't spend our special day together, it doesn't mean that we can't move it and celebrate on another day. Coming up next is Valentine's day. We clearly can't spend this holiday together and it would be odd to celebrate our anniversary and Valentine's day a few days apart and nearly a month prior to the holiday. So, we have already planned to celebrate Valentine's day with a Skype dinner date. Having some facetime on a computer doesn't only have to involve sitting at a desk, staring at one another on a computer screen. We are both going to make our own dinner and buy a bottle of wine and sit down at a table and enjoy each others company over a meal. Again, although we can't touch each other, we can still have the experience of being together.
|Dan climbing atop a mountain of snow at Portage Bay, AK|
Traveling while freelancing can make one feel lonely, moreso when you have to leave a loved one at home. Bringing sentimental items and photos, setting up phone and Skype dates, celebrating special days and holidays early and via skype, and bringing your partner along with you can make the distance more bearable. I love my partner and I love my job. I feel so lucky to have a partner that is so supportive of what I do that he is willing to let me leave home for, sometimes, months at a time. One thing that I was surprised to learn through all of this time apart is that the distance actually brings us closer. It brings about a stronger sense of appreciation, refreshment, and excitement when we are finally reunited again.
|Savoring the moment and sharing a special dinner together|