“After our initial one-night stand, things escalated quickly. Or at least as quickly as a long distance relationship can. We traded emails and text like teenagers. We talked by phone late into the night. I found myself sleepy all day, and yet giddy every time I received a message from her. She told me she felt the same way. Every day upon waking up I sent her a text message that read simply, “Morning kiss.”
In the meantime, my productivity at work plummeted. It affected Emily too — she basically stopped writing and was often late for work. Love, it turns out, has consequences.
Just three weeks after our initial meeting (and as it happens, two weeks before the breakup), I was on a flight to San Francisco. I went there for a business conference, but Emily arranged her schedule so we could meet up for one night while I was there. I emailed Emily that I was as happy as I had ever been, that the anticipation of seeing her was euphoric:
Right now I’m at 36k feet looking over the So Cal desert and the Salton Sea. A dusty sunset sands off the jagged edges of rocky ridges
I am listening to great music, rocking in my seat and resisting the urge to jump around the cabin. To sing like nothing else will ever matter. As if it were some kind of tubular rave. And I am the star, coming to you live from 6A.
I am thinking of you and I am thinking: I have never been happier.
In 24 hours I will be.
She wrote back:
This is lovely. And a little scary. I’m not sure why its scary.
I saw that you sent email and I just I left the table at dinner to go to the bathroom and read your email…
In retrospect, of course it’s scary. She was scared I was falling in love with her (which I was) and she was scared she might fall in love with me.
She later told me that she’d made a promise to herself not to say “I love you” while in San Francisco. I should’ve done the same thing. But I didn’t. Late that night, staring into her eyes, I told her “I want to remember this moment as the exact second I fell in love with you.”
And I do.
But I also remember other things. While there were many intoxicating moments in our short-lived relationship, there were troubling ones as well. Like the arguments. We seemed to have a mini-argument in every phone call. And we had a pretty serious one right after San Francisco.
Crazy as it sounds, we started talking about her moving to Austin almost from the second we met. We shared fantasies of domestic bliss, which we called “lifestyle porn.” But even as we conjured up images of waking together to a real kiss, we also started to see troubling signs in each other.
For example, money. Emily is well-compensated, and yet always lives hand to mouth. It turns out she’s terrible at managing her finances. This was a major factor in her divorce. Every week was a new crisis – her electricity got cut off, or she forgot to pay her taxes and now had a huge penalty, or she missed her flight and had to purchase tickets at the gate for $1,000. Crazy shit like that.
I also began to notice that the real love of her life was her blog. She felt very guilty about neglecting it and partly blamed me for it. (In fact, during our final meetup she spent more time working on her blog than with me, and was obviously happier as a result.)
She also just wasn’t very much fun. She didn’t like to go to movies. Hated restaurants except as a basic means of sustenance. She didn’t even like vacations. In her entire 15 year marriage she took one vacation to Europe and hated it.
What did she enjoy? Blogging.
Of course, she saw a few red flags in me, too. Early on I had shared some negatives about me that I felt she should know. Like the fact that I’m an alcoholic (a major factor in my own divorce). Like the fact that I watch way too much porn. Like the fact that I’ve visited prostitutes.
(Surprisingly, the prostitutes didn’t trouble her so much. Her ex-husband was essentially asexual. The fact that I have a high sex drive was a huge plus to her, and she treated the prostitutes as a side effect.)
All that said, though, the only insurmountable negative for both of us was distance. Our travel schedules made it difficult for us to meet up during the week, and for weekends it would have to always been at her place because she has young kids living at home and understandably wants to be around on the weekends. And it turned out that traveling to her place was an all-day trip because there were no direct flights. I would be arriving late Friday night and leaving mid-day Sunday.
And because of school schedules, that meant our fantasies of her moving to be with me would have to wait until at least next summer because she didn’t want her kids to move in the middle of the school year. 18 months is a long time…
…so much so that I almost broke up with her. I told her I didn’t think I could do it because I had been through two previous long distance relationships that didn’t work.
We agreed to date other people. For about a minute. Then I went out for coffee with a girl, told Emily I had done so, and she got very upset. End of that experiment.
So I resigned myself to being in a long distance relationship. And then I dealt with the fact that we would never watch a movie together. And then I accepted that we would never visit Paris.
In other words, I slowly let my identity be subsumed into hers.
Tags: anonymous, long-distance-relationship