Long distance relationships are hard. No surprises there. In my history of relationships this has the been the first one conducted solely via telephone and the Internet, and it is hard – oh so much harder than I ever thought it would be.
Hobo and I have always been a particularly volatile couple. We scream, hang up, say nasty things, and within a few hours we’re eating ice cream and smoking a cigarette on a bench or sipping tea at my dining table. And the joy of tea, ice cream and each other lasts until the next fight and the next round of ice creams etc. And so the cycle went. It was a rhythm we were used to, one we had grudgingly grown to accept. We took satisfaction in the little things that only we knew. The diary I kept only for him, the food only he knew would soothe my soul. The quiet we would share while I read/wrote and he drew.
There are no benches in a long distance relationship. No dining tables either, where my foot can meet his foot, and we would know that all would be forgiven and forgotten. There are lot of silences, and a lot of gaps where you dont know what the other one is doing. There is a lot of guesswork, a lot of trust, and a lot of patience – the latter being something neither of us is very good at. Both Hobo and I like fast results, we like busy-ness and bustle, and we like getting things done. While we complain about needing time to just BE, the truth is, we like being impatient and passionate and hustly-bustly. It were these very reasons that drew me to Hobo in the first place.
There can no be no hustle-bustle in a long distance relationship. We have to learn to consider time differences. We have to wait for emails, wait for telephone calls (where everything is said in a rush to preserve telephone bills) and we have to deal with the fact that if the other has had a bad day, the mail/phone call will be lacking. When we still lived in the same city, we could share our exhaustion. We would go to his place or mine, eat, zone out in front of the TV or laptop and we would both derive a strange sense of satisfaction from accomplishing these very silent acts together.
Despite my obsessive love for the written word, the truth is, there is a lot of scope for misunderstanding where the written word is concerned. If Hobo sends me an email and means something, and I take it to mean something else, there are problems. I don’t have body language to rely on, I don’t have the sound of his voice to rely on. I cant decipher if he’s angry, or teasing, or a completely different emotion that I haven’t even thought of yet. In a long distance relationship, there are many occasion where the written word creates more chaos than comfort.
People have asked me, and Im sure people have asked him as well… “Why bother?” We aren’t sure when we’ll see each other again, Im not sure where he’ll be in a year, where I’ll be in a year, whether we’ll even be on the same continent. And sometimes, after misunderstandings and screaming matches (verbal and written) and a deep deep sense of frustration, I know that both of us think, “Why bother?”
And then we remember. When we could talk about everything, how much we make each other laugh, and how if we give up now, then everything we’ve fought for 2 years will be a waste. Which is an idea so ugly, it is impossible to think about. We’ll get so tired of being angry (at him or her) and angrier (at the distance), that we’ll fall back on what kept us going before.