Disconnect and Communication

What is a relationship in your life that you’ve been thinking about recently?

I’ve been juggling between thinking about my relationship with my girlfriend which is going pretty well and my relationship with my mom, and the disconnects and connections that we do have. It was my birthday, and she didn’t really get me anything. I’ve been thinking about the disconnect and how close we aren’t in some ways. People are always like, “Oh I talk to my mom all the time,” and I never talk to my mom. But I also think about my relationship with my girlfriend.

So as far as you relationship with your mom, have you always been distant, or is this new since coming to college?

No, no, we’ve always been like that. She travels a lot for work, and there have periods of time all the time where she has to go away for work. She’s missed my birthday before. I remember I was in sixth grade, she left to go to India for a month to do a tuberculosis study. That’s what she does. She looks at tuberculosis and HIV, so right now she has study sites in Brazil, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, South Korea, China, and Peru. She’s testing a new tuberculosis test that will replace the PPD because the PPD is not very reliable. It’s fine for me now that I’m older that she’s not there all the time, but I remember her not being there, and when I came to the states, I stayed with a family for six months before the rest of my family came, so we’ve always been distant from each other, and I don’t rely on her for a lot.

At this point is it kind of normal in your life?

Yeah, I’ll message or call her if I need something, like “Hey, can you send me 100 bucks to fix the plumbing?” or “can we talk about health insurance?” When I actually call her for something, it’s about what’s wrong. There’s something I need.

Are you closer with your dad?

No, my parents are divorced. My dad didn’t want custody of us, so I lived with my mom. I saw him over the summer for the first time in ten years. It was nice to see him. I went for my grandfather’s 90th birthday.

Was it weird to see him after so long?

It was weird because everyone had expectations about the relationship for us to have. Everyone was saying, “Oh, go spend time with your dad.” To me, he’s just a guy. He doesn’t mean anything to me. He’s just some dude who was there.

As far as your relationship with your girlfriend, how has that been going?

It’s been going well. Like every relationship, we have our ups and downs. I try to focus a lot on communication, and I feel like that’s the greatest problem that we have. I told her the only reason we should break up is because there’s a nuclear holocaust, but it can’t be because you were mad at me at a party or something stupid like that. We speak different love languages so that’s hard sometimes.

What’s your love language?

Talk and I think, quality time, and hers is touch. I have to push her a lot to speak my love language, but it’s easier for me to speak hers because all I have to do is lay down, and she’ll mold herself to me.

What’s your favorite thing about her?

I can tell you the thing that solidified that she was someone I wanted to be with, and that’s that she put effort into me, into our relationship, and she wasn’t a flake. We hooked up, and I asked if she wanted to go to a movie, and she didn’t know that it was a date, but it was a date, and she showed up anyways. I wasn’t used to that, to someone actually being there. She really good about making effort and making me feel like I am important in her life. That’s one of my favorite things about her.

That’s so important in a relationship.

Yeah, to feel validated and wanted, and to be with someone that enjoys your presence. Because my love language is speech, I forget sometimes that she feels that way. I’m like, “No she couldn’t possibly. She doesn’t.” And when she does say something, it’s a good reminder. She got me a book for my birthday, and it’s like a picture book, and she had them put my name in it. It says stuff like, “I would do anything for you Isabelle.” Like, “I would knit the Eiffel Tower” or “I would climb Mount Everest in roller blades.”

That sounds really hard.

Yeah, it sounds awful.

How long have you guys been together?

Like most good lesbian relationships, we’ve only been together about ten months, but we’re fairly committed. We’ve got our lesbian love nest, and it’s very strong.

What’s your favorite memory with her?

Well this is kind of a funny one. On Valentine’s Day, I showed up at her class with a gift because we had class right next to each other, and she threw me across the hallway, like, launched me with one hand, saying, “Don’t do it.” I got annoyed with her, but she felt really bad about it afterwards, and told me she was genuinely excited. Later that evening I made her dinner and set it up all pretty. I had candles. I think I made pasta carbonara. It’s so memorable to me because she started crying halfway through because she was worried she was going to get HIV. And I was like, “What are you talking about?” She was crying real tears, real life tears, and I said, “What are you talking about? You will never in a million – and even if you did, you would be completely fine.” But on Valentine’s Day, during this beautiful intimate moment between us, she was like, “Oh man, what if that happens to me?” She had a complete breakdown. How could you do this to me on Valentine’s Day, you weirdo.

Do you laugh about it now?

I laughed in her face at the time. I couldn’t take her seriously. She didn’t know how HIV worked. She would be fine. I know a lot because of my mom. If you get the right meds, you genuinely will be okay, but she just lost it in this beautiful moment.

What is one piece of advice would you give to the William and Mary community?

It would probably be to calm down. Take a deep breath. It’s never that serious. It’s undergraduate. Do something for another person every now and again. Chill out, and if you miss one night of studying, you’ll probably be fine. Do something fun, take a deep breath, and don’t talk to me about school. I don’t care.

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