I scribbled some of this out after my last trip out east to see D. I thought it was fitting to post it since he’s about to head to Brussels for a couple months. And that sort of thing has all kinds people asking questions. 🙂
I write for a living. And I just spent three dollars and five cents on a black, medium-point Papermate pen from the rip-your-shit-off mart at the Cincinnati airport. I bought it with the three singles leftover from my cab ride to Washington National, which came from the twenty dollars that D forced me to take before I left his apartment. Really, I had no choice. It’s Memorial Day and everything’s closed.
I’ve been flying out to see D, who lives in D.C.—1,500 miles away from my current residence in Denver—since last October. In Denver, I get a question, a tone, a look, that I’ve never experienced in D.C. (though this may differ for D): How do you guys do that?
Apparently, “we just do” isn’t a great response, and since I have some time on my hands, I thought I’d try and deduce some semblance of an answer for inquisitors near and far. And, perhaps, in the future, when your friends ask, or you find yourself in a similar situation, you can use this note as reference.
HOW IT WORKS:
1. Be great friends. Getting to know a person, their funny stories, random idiosyncrasies (D deplores the word ‘lurve’ and thus I’ve banished it from my vocabulary) helps establish genuine kinship that cannont be tainted by a premature hop in the sack. And here’s where the distance actually helps—it sort of solidifies a friendship inasmuch as you’re aware of the other person’s effort via emails, phone calls and the like.
2. Take it a day at a time. Getting ahead of one’s self is never a good idea, especially in these kinds of situations. Now, no one ever said finding the balance between making sure you’re perusing a worthwhile endeavor and putting the cart before the horse is easy, but, you know…you’ll have that. Everyone does.
Give Sacrifice. D has given a lot financially to make travel feasible. I use a buttload of vacation time and grind a lot of nerves getting to/from airports, making connections, and trying not to vomit in the backseats of cabs. We both endure the ouch factor of departure; he nearly went into anaphylactic shock the last time he hung out around Ella. But see, the payoff is big every time.
4. Keep it light! Invariably, as my departure from D’s apartment looms, I start getting upset. After one visit, I cried all the way to the airport, swiped a sleeve across my eyes through check-in, uncharacteristically swore at airport security (smart) and snotted intermittently in front of total hick strangers, for all five hours of my layover in Charlotte.
Yikes. Talk about Serious Smee.
So, normally, before my departure, D and I make fun of each other to keep the tears at bay. Take today:
“God. I can’t wait to go back to Colorado,” I say, slinging shit haphazardly into my suitcase.
“Yeah, me either,” he says. “I need to give my other girlfriends a call.”
Oops. That one stings. I walk past him and into the bathroom.
“Aw. Is wittle Megan gonna cry?”
I sniff and pack my toiletries.
“Seriously, Megan. Man up already. This is ridiculous.” He pushes me over on the couch as I walk by, arms full. Because of this, I fall on my face. And I’m kinda pissed about it.
“You’re a dick.”
“Whatever. Grow up.”
“I’m not even crying! I’m done!”
What I have failed to mention here is that I asked him to make fun of me as I started crying in the bathroom. And it worked. Because a little ticked off is better than sad any day.
5. Be a little analytical. It’s not hard to get caught up in the whimsical nature of an LDR. So after the suitcase is all zipped, it’s not a bad idea to look at the facts. It’s a better idea to do it together.
“So let’s talk about how this is going to go,” D once said. “You’re going to get in a cab and you’re going to feel miserable because it sucks to leave each other. Which is actually a good thing because it would suck if we left each other and didn’t care. And you’re going to get to the airport and pull out the book I just gave you, and you’re going to read it. Then you’ll zone out. Then you’ll start thinking of happy stuff—but not about me because that will make you cry. You’ll think about how happy Ella will be to see you, that’s a good thing. And you’ll read the book in Ohio during your layover, and you’ll sleep on that flight since it’s longer. And before you know it you’ll be in Denver. And you’ll feel good because there’s a guy in D.C. who’s totally crazy about you.”
Of course, this kind of analysis sometimes negates #4 (Keep it light). By this time, the waterworks are sometimes going again, causing the other party to say, “Shit. That totally backfired on me.”
6. Don’t dwell (too much) on proximity. (Which is sorta funny now that D is going across the pond for some length of time…and is most certainly easier said than done sometimes.) Accept the current circumstance and look at the pros. For example, the distance allowed D and I to sort of court each other—something that seems to be present only in old movies and Victorian novels. But that stuff is important. And for whatever reason, this is how it was supposed to begin for D and me, and to some degree I feel lucky to have had the old school letters and late night phone calls.
So sure, I’d like to make him dinner after a long day of lawyering. Yes, I’d like to camp on the couch and play Contra more than once a month. And yeah, I realize this sort of arrangement won’t be conducive forever. People in this situation aren’t stupid. We’re not. Which is something to think about that the next time you come to someone like me, agasp with questions.
That, along with these two vittles:
1. LDR decisions aren’t all that different than the ones you and your significant other will one day make. They just involve a bit more compromise.
2. Don’t be too quick to put this kind of thing under a microscope. Yeah, these things sometimes ebb and flow (what doesnt?). But your friend’s happiness should be the biggest indicator of how things are going, and of how much support you should offer. And I honestly haven’t felt this happy quite some time. So. There.
7. Love. Mmhmm. My friend Steve once said, “Relationships always seem like a bad idea when they start.” (And ironically, Steve is a big, BIG fan of the LDR.) I can’t disagree with that; there are risks, regardless of zip codes. But, in a healthy pairing, you do what you do because it feels good and right. And hey. If you’re smitten, you’re smitten. That’s just how it goes.
IN CONCLUSION: I wouldn’t embark on an LDR with just any old bloke. I suspect none of us would. And regardless of geography, life doesn’t issue guarantees for this stuff. So take what you’re given when it’s given. The rest, as they say, will just fall into place.