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Surviving Valentines Day: Long-Distance Love

Travel does not always involve crazy adventures and new experiences – sometimes it can be the very thing that takes someone away from you. But how do you, the person left behind, deal with it when they are gone?

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young prince and princess whose love made them the happiest couple in the kingdom. One day, the prince was sent on a dangerous mission to a faraway land and had to leave behind his beloved princess. He set off on his faithful steed and vowed to remain true to his love. They sent word to each other every day in their lonely time apart, and after the successful completion of his duty, the prince returned back to the loving arms of his princess. The kingdom rejoiced, and they all lived happily ever after.

A suitable love story to see out the month of February, I believe. Even though last Valentine’s Day, while everyone else will have been out for a romantic meal with their loved one, my boyfriend and I will have been arduously attempting to keep the internet connection going long enough for a decent chat on Skype. I just had to accept the fact that this year, it wasn’t going to be quite the romantic day it normally is; instead, I joined my single friends in moaning about the commercialisation of love in a capitalist society, while gorging on chocolate.

Long distance relationships are hard. I mean, relationships in general can be difficult. But the distance thing is often the clincher. When I say long distance, I’m not talking Nottingham to London… I mean over the pond and then some. Josh is in sunny Arizona State and I’m stuck in freezing England. It’s the difference between “Ay up me duck” and “Howdy partner”, the difference between 9 º C and 35 º C and the difference between midnight and 4pm. It’s ‘make it or break it’ time, and we fully intend to make it. But how to keep the romance going when you’re so far away from each other?

Times have changed a lot since the days our grandparents diligently wrote effusive love letters every day from the war-front to their other half back home. Instead of a love letter in the post, I received a parcel of mementos: a ping-pong ball signed by Josh (the self-proclaimed “beer pong champion”) and a pair of worn orange tights — which I recalled him wearing on a certain US Halloween night with nothing but a pumpkin lid to cover his manhood. Hardly romantic in the old-fashioned sense, but we live in modern times…apparently beer-stained man-tights are the new roses. I duly returned my own package and, being the romantic that I am, decided to add a feminine touch by over-zealously spraying my perfume on the letter. It turns out that Chanel flavoured chocolates are just not as yummy as they smell. But then perhaps it’s not all about roses and chocolates. Roses die and chocolates, well, they just get eaten. Stories like these, however, are more durable and will stand the test of time.

Josh, rather worryingly, seems to have taken to reading his friend’s Cosmopolitan magazine and reported to me excitedly that we are exceeding their advice on keeping long-distance relationships hot. But a dip into Cosmo isn’t always as illuminating as we want it to be – their risqué sexting tips just don’t cut it on what is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year. There are plenty of students in long-distance relationships at this very moment who are facing the same dilemmas, and the last thing we want is to read more doom and gloom messages. If I have learnt anything at all from writing this article, it is that our relationship, even from either side of the Atlantic Ocean, has been surprisingly fun. From attempted near-fatal candle-lit dinners via Skype to a newfound love for writing sappy love poetry, the thousands of miles between us have opened up a whole range of new, if slightly unusual, ways to make a relationship function.

Eleanor Simpson

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