The Difference Three Years Can Make

In February of 2010, just a few months after we met, my partner and I decided to take a trip down to Florida to spend a weekend at his father’s vacation home. This was a big deal! Vacationing as a couple, especially so early on, has so much potential for disaster. You’re still in the “impressing each other” stage where no one poops, picks their teeth, or says they are too tired for sex. You must always be “on,” radiating attractiveness, and ready to go.

We went through the typical airport awkwardness of taking our shoes and belts off, waiting in line, and spending $75 on sandwiches and margaritas at the Delta terminal’s Chili’s. I didn’t know what to expect when we got there, so I packed everything from sweaters to bikinis, and all of my fake gold jewelry.

The house was pretty big, with three bedrooms, a roof deck, and a swimming pool. We bounced around Fort Lauderdale and ate at the least Brooklyn of restaurants. We drank 12 bottles of champagne in three days. We promised each other we’d try to go back every year while his dad still had the house.

The following spring we happily found ourselves headed there again. I had just started a new job as the PR manager at a digital agency, and my partner was beginning the second semester of his first year of an MSW program. We looked different, rounder perhaps, with more conventional haircuts and less gold jewelry. We went to Epcot one day and drank around the world while eating everything in sight. We rode the Maelstrom five times. We slept-in less, and one day it rained so I spent hours online shopping for furniture for our new apartment. We had to move in a few days after we got back from vacation, which felt fine and fitting.

We returned to Florida again just last week — our third trip. We got in around 3 AM and were pleased to find out that the rental car company had chosen the red Mustang convertible for us. We were there for St. Patrick’s Day, so we joined the spring breakers in their revelry. We made a friend with a young woman named Jen, who liked to hold my hand and drag me around different places –the bathroom, the dance floor, and the pizza restaurant. She told me that she used to be a shot girl, but now that she was 21, she was too old for that. For the first time in my life, I felt like a worried older sister and not a partner in crime.

In South Beach we turned our noses up at the restaurants by the water, where the waitresses bark at you that it’s happy hour and there is a special. Instead we ate tapas at a little Spanish place that felt hidden. By this point we were both so sunburned and tired, we needed to go home. On the ride back, I had a convertible-on-the-freeway-adrenaline-high. While I looked crisp and sleepy on the outside, inside I was erupting. I had spent so much of my twenties searching for and seeking attention, and now all of that seemed to be over and done with — and in a good way. I never thought I’d be here. Let alone, here the third year in a row.

Our final night in Florida, I made a sauce and we watched a movie. We lamented that vacation was too short, and that next year we would come for a week. We always say that, but we never have the time to execute it. Our lives seem to be getting busier, filling up with commitments beyond our control. We are leaping towards 30, and all the expectations are changing. The impressing each other stage is pretty much over, and we have entered nurturance. Nurturance sounds like a lot of work, but I don’t know if it has to be. Perhaps nurturance is a promise, not unlike the one to return to the same lovely place every year, only you promise to go there every day. Or perhaps it is just helping the other person peel the skin off their burned back after another long weekend in the sun, and pretending to not be totally grossed out by it. TC mark

image: matthewingram


More From Thought Catalog

  • Emil Caillaux

    Very nice. And oh-so-very true.

  • Perfect Circles

    Many people will not be able to relate to this but to those who can, it will be a wonderful read.

  • Anonymous

    This made me really happy. :)

  • Anonymous


  • Calendar

    It has not been three years since February of 2010. 

    • Hannah

      ohhhh calendar, always looking out.

      • Caitlin Abber

        We went to Florida February 2010, March 2011, and March 2012 — so, three years in a row.  Gotcha!

      • Calendar

        “The Difference Three Years Can Make” is the title. The time period in question runs from February of 2010- March of 2012. That’s two years. Reconsider. 

      • tryptamine

        Creative licence?

      • Guest

        oh wow…smh

      • Penelope

        I don’t think she means 3 years’ worth of time, but 3 consecutive years. Don’t nitpick.

  • Sophia

    I couldn’t relate to this, but I still liked it.

  • Anonymous

    Over-privileged whimsy fluff. It sounds like something a University of Georgia college freshman from the Atlanta suburbs would turn-in for a first-year creative writing class.

    Now… When you find out that you’re pregnant and have to put your life and career on hold as your partner moves upward (and onward with someone else). Write us a tale.

    When you start to get selfish and delusional thoughts that you are going to achieve some sort of notoriety and fame–in NEW YORK CITY, no less–and your relationship withers in the drought of your desperate search for success and “fulfillment” that will NEVER come. Write us a tale.

    When in a year or two (or a month or two) that you (or more likely your partner) realize that your relationship is poison, or even better, that your partner is “dipping his pen in another bottle of ink.” Write us a tale.

    As a matter of fact, no Caitlin, don’t write us another tale about anything if it is as self-indulgent and uninteresting as this crappy “piece.” Caitlin (BTW, Really? People actually name their daughters ‘Caitlin’ outside of television?), “we are” (you and your partner) NOT leaping towards 30. You are headed towards leaping off of a cliff BEFORE the age of 30 bitter and alone if you can’t come up with better material than again, the whimsy, fluffy, stream-of-consciousness-really-bad-romantic-novel BS that you call publishable writing. And Christ, honey, your picture even looks like someone who is a “cutter.” Good luck to your partner when he gives you the “goodbye talk.”

    I love “Thought Catalog” and have it on Facebook and Twitter. I visit the site every day, and I share its usually high quality articles with friends. Caitlin, you’ve damn near ruined one of my favorite Web sites for me with just this ONE ARTICLE and this both saddens and angers me.

    Worse than anything, while I wasted a few minutes of my life reading your dreck, I delayed my reading of TC’s outstanding and talented writers. Such as the brilliant, touching, and funny Ryan O’Connell. I just love him. The highly gifted Chelsea Fagan. And the myriad of other writers that make TC such a fun, unique, and thought provoking Web site to visit. Caitlin, your writing just isn’t on par for TC and has no place being published on it.

    Please return to your marketing consultant aspect of the business before you destroy the very Web site that you market. Thank you.

    • Guest

      And the award for the most unnecessary comment of the year goes to…

    • Taylor K. Long

      Cause people who leave long,over-reacting, hateful comments on the internet clearly have their life figured out and know what it’s all about?
      I can’t imagine you actually read TC that often, because 80% articles read, as you say, “like something a University of Georgia college freshman from the Atlanta suburbs would turn-in for a first-year creative writing class.” At least Caitlin brings us something different than “5 ways to get laid wearing a tutu you stole from American Apparel” or “10 things you can do when you realize that you’ve been writing the same piece for 5 years.”

      • Anonymous

        Ms. Long, you are cheerleading for Ms. Abber and her fundamentally flawed, abysmal article. And cheering Ms. Abber on does nothing to help her improve her selection of subject matter or seriously flawed writing techniques. I DO read this Web site daily and I DO thoroughly enjoy MANY of the very good, highly interesting writers who publish on it. I would prefer NOT to have to click past more tripe from Ms. Abber in the future, OR until Ms. Abber fundamentally reforms EVERYTHING about her writing style, which definitely includes finding a way to effectively liven up her prose.

        To master the art–and it is an art–of blog-style writing is VERY difficult. It takes outstanding grammar, spectacular syntax, lots of creativity, and actually having something interesting to say and incorporating ALL OF THIS in nothing more than just a few short paragraphs. If just anyone could do it, there would be thousands of SUCCESSFUL contemporary blog-style writing Web sites. There are not many really successful ones, however. Thought Catalog IS successful and it HAS buzz BECAUSE of the quality of its contributors writing. And frankly, yes, I do know good writing when I read it, and Ms. Abber is not a good writer. Her article today not only failed to bring the reader in, it actually pushed the reader out! Ms. Abber’s writing is not up to the standard that has been set by many of this Web site’s quality writers. Her drivel simply does not stand up to the fine, funny, engaging, and endearing writing that I am used to reading on TC, your slurs towards the Web site notwithstanding.

      • Muchbitchy?

        Not a big fan of the piece. But you, spiteful sir, are an ex-bitter-boyfriend? Because this sounds so focused and personal. Tch. 

      • Anonymous

        I assure you, MUCHBITCHY?, that I have ABSOLUTELY no connection to Ms. Abber WHATSOEVER. I do not know her. I have never contacted her. And I had never even seen her name before until earlier today when I read her article. Please do not devise some twisted, non-existent back story to my comments and critiques. Thank you.

      • Taylor K. Long

        And you know successful writing because…. you read it? Do you write it? Can’t help but notice that you haven’t posted links to any of your presumably superior writing. Also, I still fail to see how you wasting a good couple of hours on negative comments means you are an expert on “mastering the art of blog-style writing.” (Which, by the way, is more formally called first person narrative, or personal essay, if you want to make yourself sound more intelligent with regards to creative writing in future comments where you tear down others to boost your self esteem.) Based on your comment above, all you know about writing is how to abuse caps lock.

        By the way, I counted at least four navel-gazing listicles on the first two pages of TC right now, so I’d say I’m pretty fucking on point, actually.

      • Anonymous

        Ms. Taylor K. Long,  let me break it down for you: 1) I think you have a self-confidence problem that you like to project onto others. 2) It DOES NOT take me two-hours to write a few comments and critiques. It takes much less time to do so when dysfunction and errors are so glaring as is the case in Ms. Abber’s ABYSMAL article. 3) I don’t care if it’s called particle physics. I was taught the term “blog-style writing” and I will die using the term “blog-style writing.” 4) Without bold, underline, and italics, caps lock is a necessary evil when showing “writers” such as Ms. Abber the errors of their way in a manner in which they can glean anything useful from the comments/critiques. 5) I did not comment/critique Ms. Abber in order to publish my own writing. I did so in an attempt to help her salvage her own, or at least discontinue writing altogether. Finally, 6) What you are, Ms. Taylor K. Long, is pretty fucking annoying, actually. You live to visit Web sites such as Thoughts Catalog in order to give your own silent, withering critiques to feed your sense of superiority and fill your never-ending need for validation. Always trying to garner the self-confidence that will NEVER come. If you disapprove of TC so much, Ms. Taylor K. Long, don’t visit the Web site anymore! Leave it so that those of us who enjoy TC can help it from being ruined with writers such as Ms. Abber and yourself.

    • Rtorresi

      Jmr012, cretin du jour, creative writing workshops’ feedback should incisive and insightful yes, but never mean and soul-crushing in nature. For fucks sake, stop living in your head, that callous and cold place you call home.

      • Anonymous

        I arrived at that “callous and cold place” after reading Ms. Abber’s article earlier today, RTORRESI.

      • Anonymous

        “cretin du jour” is one of the best things I’ve ever read.  

    • Margaret Thatcher

      There’s plenty of that stuff on TC already.

    • Takeabreathitwillbefine

      Why are you so angry? I know other people have voiced this, but still…

      If you’re not really enjoying an article- stop reading it. and go find a different one, on thought catalog or elsewhere. there’s no pressure. i just don’t understand the need to take the additional time to write such a hateful comment. 

      Caitlin is probably a perfectly nice person, (even if she isn’t you don’t know her so IT DOESNT MATTER for you) so even if you absolutely hate her article, why take the time to tear her down as an individual when you are getting nothing out of it. 

      i’m sorry, i’m not  a regular commentor, and i know people do post other mean comments on TC, but this seemed especially vitriolic. 

      • Anonymous

         Takeabreathitwillbefine, Ms. Abber, hopefully, will forever remember this line of my comments above all others: “It sounds like something a University of Georgia college freshman from
        the Atlanta suburbs would turn-in for a first-year creative writing
        class.” And this is because Ms. Abber’s writing DOES sound like that. And one day, if Ms. Abber wisely takes my cutting yet insightful critiques to heart, she will begin the process of becoming a quality writer, and hopefully, remember the moment she read my scathing comments as being the moment of inspiration that caused her to strive to be more than a banal and nauseous writer and actually work to become a writer that makes readers feel things OTHER than negativity. If she can manage simply to BEGIN such a transformation, then there may be hope for her AND her writing. All the while, TC publishes some very fine writers who have mastered the art of blog-style writing. And for now, all that Ms. Abber’s writing does is sully most of her colleagues excellent contributions to this, one of my favorite blog-style writing sites on the Internet.

      • Roy

        Really? Is that your dream? To not actually write or create anything but be the “inspiration” for some writer just because you’re particularly hateful? Is this how you justify the vitriol you spew in this anonymous forum (so brave!)? You’re moronic, JMR012. I hope this ‘inspires’ you to be a decent human being and make the effort to understand what “insightful critique’ means.

      • Anonymous

        Shall I put it in simple terms for your benefit, Roy? Both Ms. Abber’s story and the quality of her writing sucked worse than I have ever seen the likes of before on this Web site. I really do like TC. I really do bookmark and share articles from it with friends on Facebook and Twitter. The articles that the QUALITY contributors on this Web site produce often bring some enjoyment and pleasure to my otherwise VERY stressful days. I DO NOT want TC to start featuring talentless contributors like Ms. Abber because she got a job with the organization and now thinks that she is some kind of “writer,” and end up ruining–and I’ll state it again–a Web site that I very much enjoy. A person DOES NOT have to have gone to the Columbia School of Journalism to be a good writer. A person DOES NOT have to have graduated with an English degree from Brown to be a good writer. A person DOES have to have the talent and skills that I have clearly enunciated in other comments that I have posted today, specific to producing quality, blogger-style writing. Attack my methods all you want. But don’t deny the truth of my findings.

    • Guest

      This comment ought to be taken NOT as a salient critique of Ms. Abber and her writing (it utterly fails there, and is Ad Hominem in a creepy, very personal way) but, instead, as evidence of a severe and persistent psychopathology on the part of jmr012. This is some Axis II shit. Seriously, seek help.

  • Ozymandias


    You came to no profound conclusion.

    You spent three years in a slow descent into a delusional state of ennui.

    The only thing in this article about one achieving knowledge of progress with age is the lass who realized at twenty-one she was two old for shots.

    TC find that “no more shots” girl and have her write some good articles

    • Guest

      Really?  You can use words like ennui but yet can’t distinguish between “too” and “two”.  Embarrassing.

  • Vicky Nguyen

    People on TC are always under the false assumption that under the cloak of mostly anonymity, they have the right to act all holier-than-thou to the writers. Nit-picking every little mistake; making pretentious comments about what they “should write about instead”. Seriously shut up already. We’re getting bored of your pointless comments. If you genuinely do not like an article, hover your mouse over where the X button is and leave. Simple.

    On a lighter note, I liked this article. Light read (pun? no? okay), simple and rather relevant to how one’s priorities ages with time.

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