As the wind kindles a fire…

I’ve been a naughty blogger again. I promised myself I would blog at least once a month but October passed in a haze of exam pain and November flew in an impromptu sunshine escape, so I do have my excuses, as well rehearsed as they may be. Cross my heart though, this blog post has been on my mind near constantly in the last 5 weeks.

It is a pretty delicious feeling when you are bubbling over to write about something, but just waiting for the perfect planetary alignment that will spare you a half hour to do so.

I know one universal truth in my long study of human behaviour; people really don’t dig long distance relationships. If I had a penny for every time I heard someone scoff and sneer and say “I don’t do Long Distance…it never works out” I would be a billionaire on the cover of Forbes magazine standing next to Oprah and The Queen (HRH).

In actual fact, for me at least, long distance relationships are all I have ever known. Rewind back a quarter of a century ago, as soon as I arrived into the world kicking and screaming, I stepped neatly into my parent’s world of long distance love. Not with each other of course, but as expatriates, they had left house and home and grandma and grandpas and dads and mums and sisters and brothers to set up shop in a shady Desert in the middle of nowhere. As a second-generation expat brat, I took on that long distance love from the moment I took my first breath.

Anecdotes of our babbling babyisms and coochie coo pictures of my sister and I sleeping, bathing, eating, frowning and giggling made it across the Arabian Sea in small blue airmail letters for grandparents and uncles and aunties and cousins to fawn over. A mere baby, I probably had no idea that this was the first of a very great many series of long distance love in my life.

The still point of my carefree turning world probably came when I was about eleven years old though, when my older sister got married and moved away. Not just a sea away, like my grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins, but a whole couple of continents away. At the time I was thrilled to bits because, well I would finally get my own room. Subjugated to share in a neat and tidy lavender cocoon with matching carpets and curtains and very floral and pretty things, I was thrilled to bits about the possibilities of all the changes I would bring in once the older, responsible, mature, moody, regimental big sister was gone. I drew posters and made plans, blissfully unaware I was about to get a serious crash course in love, longing and distance.

At the time I would’ve laughed if I told you that I would miss her unbearable. In fact, I distinctly remember, on her wedding day, when everyone was emotional, I bawled like a baby and my sister laughed at me saying “Omg are you actually crying?!” She laughed as I wept. We have this on her Wedding video. She laughed because that’s what she does, she laughs at me, and I cried because I think it hit me; life was about to change big style.

Being eleven is pretty dumb to start with, but when your sister moves away and everything starts changing, it fast becomes very dumb. I discovered through lonely nights that being an (almost) only child is really not all it is cracked up to be. I longed to have her around, to laugh with, talk to, annoy, get mad at, beat up etc. I yearned to hear her (previously mean) voice and to have her tell me off, laugh at me or be her little slave girl who ran to buy her chocolate from the grocery store in a heart beat. I realised we wasted so much time fighting and that the lavender room really wasn’t that bad, going so far that I hesitated to change a single detail of it for a good five years. I forgot to ask her what her absolute favourite dream was or who she wanted to be when she grew up. A few years later as I started to grow up a bit and got a permanent internet connection, we emailed back and forth, maintaining and nurturing our long distance relationship between all the hundred things that fill up daily lives.

If that were my only foray into long distance relationships, maybe I would be a bit more cynical too, but moving on to high school I was lucky enough to meet some absolutely fantastic people and develop lasting relationships which to this day I count as my lifelines. When we all moved to different countries for University, the technology really came in handy and emails came in thick and fast, making the long distance relationships much easier.

Those emails were my life line through some pretty hard and incredibly fulfilling times. Through them I laughed, cried, and was as deeply engrossed in their daily lives as they were in mine. I remember the memorable ones, from forays into idealistic student activism to tales of vices and hedonism; from massive successes with work and careers to devastating fails with love. We grew together and maintained the love through careful cultivation and millions and millions of terabytes of emails. Though the emails took the edge off, the yearning never stopped.

By the time I met the Boy of my Dreams, I was almost a smiling Buddha when it came to long distance. It didn’t disturb us for one moment that from the very onset, we were a very long distance relationship. From the moment we met till the day we married , we maintained 2 years through distances from 70 miles to 7000.  No doubt being in a long distance relationship can be very difficult. No matter how many new means of communication, somehow typed words on a screen or a somewhat grainy image off a webcam do not make up for whispered sweet nothings and the power of actual human touch.

Yet, yes yet, I am a hardcore advocate of the long-distance love.

Till today, at this established and ripe old age of 25, I still conduct family gossip sessions with my mum on BBM, while simultaneously following my best friend’s wedding planning on a blog and when I’m lucky indulging in impromptu skype sessions with my two beautiful nephews who giggle, gurgle and smile almost close enough to cuddle from deep yonder of a 12.5″ screen.

The yearning never goes away, and it can sometimes be physically painful to know that all my best friends and much of my family are so far away and without possibility of when I can definitely see them next.  It is a precarious position to be in, to love so much but to be so far apart it actually hurts.

As I help one of my bestie’s in South Africa to decide over which wedding dress to go far and simultaneously keep my sister entertained with a good old chin-wag as she waits at the bus stop for my little nephew to come home (thank god for BBM) I can’t help but think the secret to long distance relationship is, as always, best summed up in a quote:

“L’absence diminue les médiocres passions, et augmente les grandes, comme le vent éteint les bougies et allume le feu*”- François de La Rochefoucald

*Loosely translated: Absence extinguishes the minor passions and increases the great ones, as the wind blows out a candle and kindles a fire.

May all your long distance relationships be akin to the wind kindling a great, passionate and full of love fire

If I had six minutes to live…I’d write a little faster xxx

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