The 23-Hour Relationship Test

This photo was taken July 20, 2009 in Sioux Falls, S.D., before we set off for Portland. This was one of the last times we smiled the whole trip.

A little slow on the uptake this morning. Had to make my way to work by 7 a.m. to kick off the first of four 10-hour shifts so my girlfriend and I can hit the road Friday, hopefully avoiding Fourth of July traffic.

Fat chance.

Before we moved, I heard it time and time again: “This is going to test your relationship.” I understood the idea, considering we’d be 1,700 miles from home and didn’t really know anyone in the Pacific Northwest. However, the past 11 months have, if anything, brought us closer.

The real test was the 23-hour drive from home to here, which we’ll duplicate in reverse starting Friday. My girlfriend and I disagree on a few key issues, each of which will likely arise during our upcoming trip. In no particular order:

1. Musicals vs. Gangster Rap When I drive, I like to listen to really aggressive gangster rap. My girlfriend, on the other hand, likes showtunes that she can belt at the top of her tiny lungs. This turns into Mamma Mia! versus Big Poppa. Though musicals and gangster rap are equally absurd and theatrical, there’s something about the glossy sheen from showtunes that makes me physically ill. Creeps me in the same way competition cheerleaders wear that hysterical smile while flipping and tumbling. Compromise: I love Glee. She loves Atmosphere and Brother Ali. Here, we have some common ground. Crisis averted.

2. MPG vs. MPH My Ford Fusion, like most modern cars, keeps track of fuel economy. When I’m driving alone, I get 31 miles per gallon on the highway, 24 in town. I can live with that. My girlfriend tends to drive a little faster. When our car is weighed down with all of our possessions, the fuel economy takes a major hit. I offset the weight by doing little things, like slowing down to climb hills and coasting back down. My girlfriend will instead race up the hills and speed down. When we made our initial trip to Portland, I averaged 29 while she averaged 22. Compromise: Yeah, there won’t be much compromise here. She’ll drive how she drives and I’ll drive how I drive. I think we can agree to a “zero sigh” policy.

3. “Hey, look at that rock formation!” vs. “I can’t, or we’ll karom off the road and die.” The drive from Portland to Eastern South Dakota is a scenic one — if you leave out the South Dakota-part — so it’s hard not to stop and awe at the sights. My girlfriend is notorious for saying, “Andrew, check out that waterfall!” while I harshly respond, “Jesus H., Beth! We’ve got our lives in this car and I can’t risk going over the guardrails to see a Goddamn creek!” This leads to 50 miles or so of silence before I concede I was an ass and allow her to listen to Celine Dion. Compromise: I’ll not be an ass.

As the saying goes, “If you love someone, spend 23 hours in a car with them and see if you don’t spend half the trip strategizing a clean breakup.” I love my girlfriend, though, so I’m actually looking forward to the ride back to our new home. If this 11-month stay in Portland was a test, I’d say we passed it. There were no blowouts, no weeks of silence, no nothing fights. Any blows to the face were purely accidental. (My girlfriend tosses and turns a lot while she sleeps.)

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3 thoughts on “The 23-Hour Relationship Test

  1. YAY!! I didnt have any doubt you two wouldn’t make it :) I mean to be honest..our visit helped 100% :) I have to say..I’d be a great back seat driver beings I love rap and mamma mia. Think of the remix we could make. See you when you get here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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