In the movie (I have not read the book, don’t judge me) Love in a Time of Cholera a mismatched couple goes through some extra ordinary trials and (spoiler alert) learn to love each other. While I would not say that I and my beloved are mismatched, I would say that this nine months of long distance dating has taught us many things. As I return to Cape Town soon, we will come to the end of the long distance part so I thought I would share some of my thoughts about this time in my life. (And here is a nice classic for you to listen to while you read.)
But first, maybe you have to know some of our story. We are South Africans. He lives in my home town, Cape Town, where we met a million years ago. We started dating in August 2012, a month before I came to Finland for the second time. This is not as crazy as it may seem, you see, we had been good friends since 2009 and in 2011, we were each other’s best other gender friends. And here is the awkward part: while we had been great friends all those years, for most of that time I was hopelessly in love with him. It was just like the movie (again, apparently it’s a book, but I have not read it either) He’s Just Not That into You, I hit my head against the wall of this relationship time and time again. My friends knew all the drama that I created and commiserated with me as we searched the depths of the meanings of unrequited love. I was his buddy, the one he helped out, told his stories and his hopes to while I tried to keep myself from blubbering out my feelings for him. This continued for a while on and off and when I came to Finland (for the first time – in January 2012), I hugged him goodbye and good riddance at the airport. I was washing this man out of my hair and out of my life. I carried on with my life and he was a thing of the past. But you see, something else happened at the airport that I did not know about till much later that year. As we hugged goodbye and I cut the hope chord (maybe heavy duty chain would be a better description) that I had strung between our hearts, he realised that he loved me. He spent the next 6 months thinking and praying about how he could win me back.
And so, to cut a long story short, he did and we embarked on a new adventure together: The Long Distance Relationship.
We had fast and good internet connections and we used those to the maximum. We gchatted, facebook chatted, facebook posted, facebook liked, facebook shared, Skype called, Skype chatted, smsed, shared a dropbox folder and uploaded photos and videos of special events and our very different daily lives; we watched movies together with a mix of Skype, Netflix and something else which we shall not name but I will say that it starts with a “T”; he met my Finland friends through Skype and I filmed bike rides and hikes in blizzards for him; we shared our often updated google calendars (yes, we are both admin nerds) so we would have a vague idea of how each other’s days were looking; we sent each other YouTube videos and blogs that we found funny, interesting, inspiring or challenging; we put on music and danced silly crazy dances for each other; we even gymed together once (and I dressed up like an eighties gym go-er); we each cooked a meal and we would have a dinner date (eating and chatting); we argued, misunderstood, disagreed and made up with each other; we laughed until our sides hurt and tears came; we shared our hopes and dreams, our hurts and anxious thoughts; we prayed together; and all the while our friendship blossomed and our life roots entangled.
All this happened while being 15 000 kilometers apart. He would be coming back from the beach and I would be leaving for outdoor ice skating. He would be in shorts and t-shirt and I would be in a fleece and a beanie (yes, even with central heating).
That said, Skype was not on all the time. Nor were we constantly in touch with each other (my phone did not like the Finnish wifi so I hardly had whatsapp or BBM or access to the internet if I was away from my computer). For us, this worked well. It felt special then when we did chat or Skype or whatever.
And so, while we enjoyed the benefits of the recent leap in the telecommunicative evolution and our relationship was nothing but strengthened during this time, I have often dreamed (like, literally had dreams) about doing the daily tasks of life together… like walking down the road, holding hands, going to the shops to buy milk etc. For all that technology can do, it cannot (for now) give you a hug from your loved one. And actually, although you are closer in some senses, you are still so far away in other.
All in all, I’m grateful for this time of long distance, but I’m very grateful that it is nearly over!