Saturday, 7 November 2015

Long distance

I spent last Friday evening here on the shore at New Smyrna Beach, on Central Florida's Atlantic coast. It was the last night of my holiday, and we've learned through long experience to do something lovely and enjoyable at this point, rather than just packing and feeling sad.

Though I've packed and felt sad plenty of times. I've been in this long distance relationship for so many years that it just feels normal now, but it still never gets easier to leave. It's bad being the one walking through security at the airport to fly away. It's bad to be the one left waving goodbye. I am quite an expert on waterproof mascaras.

I'm writing this lying on the sofa in the living room of the house where I live on my own most of the time. The time difference means that J is still at work, so we can't speak on the phone. When I go out at the weekend, I go on my own and return on my own. When I get my hair done on Saturday morning, no-one will admire how pretty it is. (Though that may not be a complaint unique to people in long distance relationships.) I pay my own bills. I put out my own bins. I particularly don't enjoy the bins.

And yet....

When we are together, we are much nicer to each other than most couples I know. It's a thrill every time we meet at the airport. We appreciate each other's company. We're slow to argue because it's wasting our best time, and when we do disagree, we sort it out quickly. We take nothing for granted.

And there are benefits to time on our own as well. J rarely sees my cross, stressed, just-home-from-work face or hears me address him like a teenage pupil, which could happen all too easily. He's messy and I'm kind of average, so we keep our own spaces how we like them. Technology makes it easy to communicate through the day. We send photographs of ordinary things to stay connected. I've learned to position the computer to get the most flattering Skype angle for my cross stressed face.

You can't be needy in this sort of relationship. You have to be independent, self-reliant and patient, happy to do your own thing. You mustn't fall into the trap of counting the days till the next trip - treasure the days together when they happen instead.

Maybe everyone thinks I have an imaginary friend, and occasionally it feels a bit like that. But most of the time I'm thankful for what we have, happily looking forward to the next meeting and enjoying my life in the mean time. Also thinking that I might soon have enough air miles to upgrade to a higher class on a transatlantic flight...

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