A few years ago, I met a small business owner at a club. I should have known the dating relationship with R. would not last very long: we met because I was trying to save my coat from a girl’s vomit.
I made R. beg for my phone number for hours before I handed it over. It led to a pretty great first date. As we continued to get to know each other, we had an argument because, according to him, I was too wrapped up in my work.
“All you talk about is your research!” he said.
There I was, with this cute man who wanted me to rock his last name on my diploma.
I had a choice. I could either drop the work, or drop the man.
I dropped the man.
Some men support me as I hurtle towards graduation. Last year, I was up to my neck in papers. I had 30 portfolios to grade. C. knew that, heard the panic in my voice, and cooked for me while I graded. Just this June, Mr. Man sat with me and helped me hammer out some theories for my dissertation. He also helped me negotiate the terms of an important speaking engagement.
I remembered, however, R.’s accusation that I was too focused on work. I tried to avoid repeating that fight.
“You’re more important than my work,” I told C.
“No I’m not,” he shot back. “But that’s okay.”
When I’m in the middle of wrapping up a project, I am a mess. Everything and everyone takes a backseat, except for God. My apartment is a mess. As of this precise moment, I need a hair dresser, manicure, pedicure, an eyebrow wax, and a masseuse. I’m bleary eyed, tired.
But I’m in love, y’all. I’m fully committed to my dissertation. We are in this, and I’m trying to do right by him. When he comes calling, I turn my phone off and focus. It gets intense and I need some space, some time with my girls. But I can never stay away too long, because I love him too much.
Oh, we have our fights. Sure. I tried to make something work and he wasn’t having it, but then we compromised on a new theory that made us both happy. And there are a lot of things about him I don’t like: too-long sentences, incomplete ideas, and inconsistencies. But with a little work, I can improve him. I know I can.
Even my mother noticed the close relationship I have with my dissertation. “You can’t get married until you’re finished,” she pointed out this weekend.
I opened my mouth to disagree, but then I remembered that I hadn’t yet found time to return several phone calls from one of my gentlemen friends.
My dissertation was calling.