It has been more than 100 days since I last saw him, the day I sent him off with a goodbye kiss at the airport.
My boyfriend has been living in Tokyo for quite some time now, about three months and two weeks at this writing. It hasn’t been such a long time since we started waddling through this universe of a long-distance love affair, yet the hardships—and the rewards—are unfolding already.
We have heard the stories of those in the same situation, and the reviews aren’t very good. In order to fully grasp the complexity of the new setup, we decided to call off the relationship when he left and just resume it when we can finally be together physically—in November 2014, when he would have finished his graduate studies. But it didn’t take long for us to abandon the agreed setup; we decided to give our best efforts to a long-distance relationship (LDR), which persists to this day.
This is not the best relationship option there is, especially when you have grown to spend almost every day with your partner. When he left, everything changed so abruptly. I no longer have a hand to hold while walking, movie dates became solo flights, Internet and phone charges started to soar, and our fights became harder to solve. The distance, I realized, is the worst enemy.
It amazes me why I even agreed to be in an LDR, and to wholeheartedly wait for my boyfriend to come home. The philosopher Simone de Beauvoir would most likely call me “a pathetic creature,” as I am willing to watch the days pass me by just so I can be with my boyfriend again rather than abandon the idea and move on to a much better and uncomplicated love. Maybe this is stupidity, but as what I have also learned from De Beauvoir, if we want things to happen, we have to work hard to make them real.
The first few days of my boyfriend’s absence brought me to pains that can be compared to derangement; the withdrawal syndrome—that is how I would put it. I was distraught and could not focus on my work. I would always feel melancholic, especially in the evenings, as I had to go home on my own—no more dinner dates after work or late-night phone marathons. It took me quite some time to finally get into the boyfriend-is-away groove and find new things to keep me busy.
Distance, however, can also be a good friend, once you get accustomed to it. For the three months that I have roamed places on my own, I got to appreciate the beauty of having “alone time” and of doing things my way and at my own pace. I also now have the time to enjoy the company of my friends and family.
Appreciation of what was lost with the distance has become the norm for lovers in LDRs. You get to treasure every second that you will see each other on Skype. You become thankful for the free Wi-fi in malls, where you can have free calls and texts on Viber. You are also grateful that God created low-cost airlines and that He made holiday seat sales a reality as well.
Being in an LDR has triggered in me sensations that I did not know or appreciate before. It is surprising how little gestures can make such great impact. Simply asking how his day went would give me comfort to ease my hard day at work. Looking at his photos of the leaves falling in autumn makes me want to be there and see the beauty of yellow-leaf trees with him. I now get lost in excitement while looking for cheap flights to Japan so I can pay him a visit. The thrill of seeing my boyfriend again brings back butterflies in my stomach—the feeling I constantly had when I first fell in love with him.
I also now write cards, which I would send to him via post. The anticipation for the card to get to Tokyo almost killed me, but nothing compared to the feeling of triumph upon seeing him on Skype with the card in his hand, three weeks after I sent it. It was a breakthrough in my world: The postal system works!
He, on his end, would send me chocolates and other gifts through friends flying to Manila for a home visit. He would be the first one to greet me in the morning on Facebook (he is ahead by one time zone), and he would keep me company all day with his incessant stories about the Japanese lifestyle. I now have an idea of how life is like in Tokyo; it feels like seeing another world through his eyes.
For most people, these things can be so childlike and petty, but for my boyfriend and me, these are the wonderful moments that make us—and this love—feel alive.
They say most LDRs end up as failures, and in the 100-and-so days of having my own LDR, my boyfriend and I have had our set of failures this early. We have had our stories of misunderstandings, and I can attest that online fights are not easy to solve. Jealousy kicks in from time to time. Loyalty is tested by opportunities and temptations. The loneliness and uncertainties can bring you to the brink of breaking up, and it takes a strong heart and an even stronger love to keep you holding on.
What most people do not appreciate about an LDR is that this setup makes us understand a love that transcends physical proximity—that even with the distance, we can still love truly and fully. This is the bigger gamble with life; we don’t know if this game of waiting will reap benefits later on, but we are doing it anyway. If we lose, at least we can say we tried to play the game and gave it our best. If we win, then all the pain will be worth it.
Being far away from the one you love is not easy, yet my boyfriend and I still hold on to keep the relationship alive, in the hope that all the hardships will pay off someday. Every relationship has its own drama; it just turned out that ours is about spending time together while being away from each other.
These 100 days of being apart have at least taught me that time and space should be appreciated. Things may or may not turn out to be better than they already are, but so long as we keep loving each other and appreciating the efforts that we make to keep the love alive, we will emerge as better people. And we will see the better days together. LDRs are not only a test of character but also a leap of faith.
Seven hundred days to go before we see the better days. I can’t wait to give him my welcome-home kiss at the airport.
Reinna Bermudez, 22, is a member of a political staff at the Senate.