We always talk about the great effects of globalisation: cheaper air fares, less borders, people travelling now more than ever before. But what about the increased odds of falling for someone whose roots are on the other side of the planet? Is this a blessing or a curse?
My first cross-continental romance was with someone I played tour guide to while he visited the Philippines. A holiday fling turned into, “let’s keep in touch,” turned into 4-hour Skype conversations, turned into “I’m coming back to see you.” And then you decide to defy all logic and make it work.
Calendars become countdowns. You now love the word “Arrival” as much as you despise the word “Departure.” Precious savings are spent on cheap flights along with hours waiting in airports, bus terminals and train platforms. You say “I miss you” too much, or maybe not enough.
The first few months are manageable. Your next trip together is the light at the end of a long tunnel full of monotonous days stuck in the waiting room of routine. It’s always a special occasion, an excuse to try out a new restaurant or explore a new part of town and take more photos to flick through when the time comes to say goodbye. There’s strength in the knowledge that you mean so much to someone that they’re holding out for you, that in this age of instant satisfaction, you are worth deferred gratification.
Then, frustration creeps in. You grow less patient with long reply times, conflicting schedules and crappy internet connections. Jealousy isn’t far behind. Who is that in the Facebook photo with you? Why weren’t you answering your phone? Who were you with? The waiting game gets tiring. What to you began as a love story of Shakespearean proportions deteriorates into dull resentment at the most important person in your life for missing milestones now marked by “I wish you had been there.”
Is this worth it, you start to wonder, but hold out until the next visit. And then it’s Arrival day again, the butterflies and fireworks return, and everything is perfect. Until Departure Day. It’s as if your two hearts are tied on a string that stretches tighter with every goodbye. How long until it snaps?
Why the hell would anyone want to go through these peaks and pitfalls of emotion? Well, love of course. It conquers all, right?
But love long distance also needs patience, understanding, trust. And most importantly, a day on the calendar, written in bold marker and circled red when you finally live in the same area code.
Sometimes when you add distance, love is not enough.