I never thought I’d say “yes” to a long-distance relationship, but when you cupped my face and said sweetly, “I really don’t want to break up,” I knew I was going to agree to anything you asked. I didn’t want to break up either. It seems painful to end a relationship, not because you’ve fallen out of love or done something unforgivable, but solely because your bodies are not in the same location. Our hearts are in this, I thought. We can do it.
But it’s hard. For many reasons. When we were together all the time, I thought about you in a warm, pleasant way but with no urgency. I knew I’d see you soon. Now that it’s never quite guaranteed, I’ve started being unable to think about anything else. You invade my thoughts and color everything. I’ve become desperate.
I thought maybe after we were forced to be apart, I’d get used to your absence. I’d start to like having my alone-time back. I’d start to morph back into the independent person I was before you. It hasn’t worked. The distance has only made me think about you more. All day long, in fact. I can’t stop thinking about you because I know it’s going to be a good long while before I see you again. It’s like my brain has to fill the “you” quota because my body knows it won’t get what it needs.
I resent every minute I can’t be with you. I hate everything that keeps us apart. I hate school, I hate work, I hate obligations where we have to go and smile through gritted teeth and try and pay attention. I can’t pay attention because I can’t think about anything but you. I could see a loud, fantastic rock concert by my favorite band and the whole time I’d be thinking, “I wonder what so-and-so is up to.” If I go for a run, I picture you running beside me. When I eat with friends, I wonder how the dynamic would change if you were here.
We can’t be together because we’re in different places. And we strive for connection, any we can get. Skype, phone calls, emails, texts, sending gifts. We have to try to touch with our hearts and minds since our bodies can not. It’s the worst. But it’s also a new, brilliant way of reaching each other. We get to share so much, because we’re getting to share so little in the way “normal” couples do. We take what we can get.
I still have the shirt that smells like you. I wear it around the house to do chores, and because it makes me think you’re with me. It doesn’t help me to stop thinking about you, but it soothes the ache. I miss you, and I know we’ve made this decision to stay together and climb this hill together, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s so hard to try and force myself to do other things, to go out, to care about something other than you and what you might be doing off where ever you are.
I don’t want to be the person who isn’t listening when someone talks; instead, thinking about your eyes, your hair, your lips, your voice. But I can’t help it. You can’t tell yourself not to think about someone — that’s just asking to think about them even more. It’s like riding a wave, I guess. I have to wait for this love to crest and fall and then I’ll finally be able to function knowing you’re so far away from me, with no end in sight.
The distance doesn’t matter. It doesn’t erase you from my life. It doesn’t weaken your presence. It only makes you more important, more lovely, and more worth fighting for.