Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How filling out a Customs Declaration Form can break your heart.

Last summer, about 6 months before we broke up, we took a vacation with a fellow couple to Costa Rica. This trip was about 2 years in the planning. One would never assume that a trip that took almost 2 years to plan would proceed to break your will to live.

Let’s just say, it had its ups and downs. Some of the “ups” were: hanging out with sweet little monkeys, eating a lot of pineapple, drinking a lot of rum, and seeing some of the most beautiful sites. And as for the “downs”, well…. that includes a series of nightmarish events and a lot of breathy whisperings of, “I’m scared…” while walking through the pitch-black Costa Rican rain forest in the pouring rain while listening to monkeys howling in the distance.

But we survived, and eventually boarded a plane for home while sleep deprived, tanned, burned, peeling, haggard, hungry and hung over. Despite all that, the trip had awakened in me an appreciation for him. He was strong, supportive, took control, and took care of me. Amongst the chaos of the trip, I felt reconnected to him. Finally seated on the plane back, we settled into our seats and happily anticipated returning to our apartment. Many of our problems seemed to fade away on this trip and I started to feel like maybe we had a chance after all. I saw the person I loved; I saw him as strong and helpful, care taking and kind.

Then came a small piece of paper hell bent on destroying my little fantasy -- the “U.S. Customs and Border Protection Declaration Form.” As the steward passed out the forms he stopped in front of a happy, young couple seated in front of us. He advised them to fill out one form per family. He smiled at the couple, asking them if they were married, the couple laughed back something along the lines of, “Not yet!” And the steward smiled back at them. Then he turned to us and asked if we needed one or two forms. One each, please.

This sinister little form asked me to fill in my Family Name and the number of family members traveling with me. As I began filling out my form, I started to picture an alternate reality, one where we were nonchalantly filling in just one form for our happy little family of 2. And at that moment, I pictured us as a family and felt a small beam of happiness and hope that someday we would be. And I turned to him, touching his arm with a loving smile and said, “I wish we were a family.” And he glanced over to me, sideways, and said “Um hmm.”

Yeah. He said, “Um hmm.”

I sunk into my chair and we silently filled out our separate forms.

At that time, just 6 months before we broke up, I still had thoughts about getting married. And had he asked me, I guess I would have said yes. But I wonder if we would have ever gotten to the actual marriage part. I can see myself, with a ring on my hand, and how it would have played out. Elated at first, maybe for a few months, but eventually we would settle back into normal, all our problems would flood back in, and the logistics of our future married life would become clearer. I would see that a ring wouldn’t fix what was broken between us.

The more time passes and the more I change, the more I see that no matter how much we may have loved each other, we just weren't right for each other. Apparently, there's a difference. Who knew?

My life is very different now. I felt like I had no control over my life before, I was consumed by the relationship and what we were going to do with our lives, how he felt about us, and what he was thinking. But what about me? My happiness was an afterthought. What I needed from him never entered into my mind -- things such as a true sense of partnership, a deeper friendship, attentiveness, empathy, more encouragement, and an interest in what truly made me happy. What I really needed from my life was cloudy and in the distance. I couldn't figure it out. I knew there was something more that I needed -- a change had to happen, but I just couldn't picture it. To quote my fellow blogger, I perseverated.

And so, there were many little tests like this one on the plane. Many times where I would have my heart broken somehow and then just push it aside, vowing to perseverate -- just do the same thing over and over -- just push my own self further and further away so I wouldn't have to take a good look at what was going on. I just didn't want to face it, we would suck at marriage and if we would suck at marriage then I better leave, but it was too difficult -- until one day, when I guess I was ready, I did.

Thinking about that day on the plane, it makes me wonder how many shaky relationships that tiny form has tested.

So what about you? How was your relationship tested? And where did this test lead you?


  1. i really like this post :)
    your a really good writer!xo

  2. Thank you so much. It makes me so happy to hear that. "xo" to you too! :)



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