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Long Distance

Image: Clemson

Sometimes, when I get lonely, I listen to Matt’s music while washing a load of dishes or preparing food. It’s one way to be close to him without demanding his immediate attention or response. There’s a different facet to his voice and I can listen passively and think about when we used to be in the same room.

I first left him at the airport more than several months ago, at the beginning of August. I cried terribly, my face fracturing in front of airport security and other travelers who could keep it together. I drove back to my new apartment alone and it was raining.

Rather than face my loneliness, I slept. I crawled into my sleeping bag and slept on the floor. I didn’t have a bed yet. A couple of hours later I woke up. The sun was dipping early evening rays into the room. I went and got gas for my car and filled the tires with air. It was a new era of me being alone. Even then, I was trying to convince myself to cultivate my independence in little acts: I took care of my car, therefore, I was taking care of myself.

It’s a bit silly and melodramatic looking back. Relationships aren’t solo endeavors no matter how “independent” I become or try to be. The both of us are making it work. Matt visited me over Thanksgiving break and we went to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. We had been to numerous modern art museums before and this was a comfort, finding the familiar in the new.

I got to see him over winter break and ate dinner with his family. His brother, who was nine when Matt and I started dating, is now 18. I joked with him that he looked like the Incredible Hulk. Matt told him his eyebrows looked different. I just couldn’t believe this boy who we took fishing, who was so excited about hooks and lures, whose limbs were small and lithe, had charged through puberty and whose face had changed. It also underscored how long Matt and I had been together; his brother was older now than when Matt and I had first met.

We make it work in our own way. Since we fell in love and grew up together in the time when people just talked to each other on the phone, that’s what we do. We try to talk to each other every evening. We occasionally send messages or video chat, but it’s mostly talking. I got my first smartphone over Christmas, though, so that may change.

He tells me about upcoming shows with his band. I tell him about any readings or literary events happening. He tells me about his jobs in music and development. I tell him about my classes.

We try to see each other every two or three months. It’s been manageable so far. I am planning to see him over spring break. I miss him and am excited to go back to Minneapolis again, to feel again the vibrancy of that particular city. To feel the cold.

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