Reunion

You’ve dreamt of it for ages. Maybe months, maybe several weeks. Maybe just  a few days. You’re standing in the airport (substitute bus terminal, parking lot, your own driveway, your car, etc.) holding flowers you bought at the grocery store for a (whopping) $10 earlier today. It’s midnight (or maybe for you it’s the middle of the day) and people are slowly coming into baggage claim, where you’ve set up shop. You’re holding your flowers and trying to look as normal as possible while your entire body is buzzing with excitement. Your kindle, which you shoved in your bag in case of long wait, remains unread. You picture, over and over, the moment she comes into view. You’re so excited, adrenaline is pumping, you don’t care what time it is, you’re wide awake —

You see her, finally, and she sees you. Her face breaks into a smile and you feel a whoosh, a release of the tension of being apart for all the days since you last saw her. The last moment lasts a very short time, and you aren’t sure if it’s a last moment or a first. She runs toward you, entirely undignified, and  you open your arms and accept her into them. The flowers press against her back.

I thought about this moment a lot in the first month my girlfriend and I were parted. I thought about what it would feel like to hug her and kiss her. I fantasized about how great it would feel.

I worried too, briefly, about the other people waiting around me. With one sharp look or a word of disapproval they could shatter my perfect moment. As I stood there with the flowers in my hand, a chauffeur holding a sign that said “Mr. Smith” on it looked at me, then looked away, then slowly looked back at me. The brightly dyed daisies I was carrying were maybe a little startling to me – why was this girl wearing flip flops and a Shakespeare t-shirt, in the airport, half past midnight, holding flowers? The key word, of course, being girl. Carrying flowers she would give to another girl. I worried that if she came before he left he might make some snide remark and boom – shattered. He would ruin the moment.

Being in a queer relationship long distance is interesting – it takes away the constant decision making surrounding whether or not to hold her hand or kiss her in public. Usually, in an ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks’ attitude, I act normally and don’t change my behavior in the slightest for anyone’s comfort. But when she’s not around, no one would guess that I’m in a relationship with a woman. I’m a cisgendered woman who presents female most of the time. I’m not particularly femme but I definitely look, dress, and act ‘female’. As I stood waiting for my girlfriend to come down the stairs and into baggage claim, I became increasingly worried about what the people around me would think of a display of affection between two women who seemed, more or less, straight up until the moment they were kissing each other.

She came and I had the aforementioned moment – I saw her, she ran to me, we hugged, we kissed, I presented her with the flowers, we were basically in our own little world. I forgot about everyone else around us and my worries from the moments before – until a woman came up to us.

She must have been in her twenties, and she walked up and said, “Excuse me?”

Neither of us could stop grinning and my arm was around Kayla as we looked to her in a bit of confusion. I was a little apprehensive before she said, “I just saw that whole thing unfold and I wanted you guys to know that you’re both adorable and that I almost cried a little bit.”

We both responded and thanked her, and she walked away.

I didn’t notice anyone reacting in any negative way, which was good, and the woman who came up to us and told us how cute we were made me feel so much better. Of course the reunion would have been perfect either way, but this woman’s positive reaction – and the fact that she had the guts to come up and tell us about it – gave me a world of confidence. For some reason we’re often afraid to go up to someone and give them a compliment, but after knowing how good this woman made me feel, I feel differently about that. Especially if I see a queer couple holding hands or kissing in couple, instead of looking away (or maybe staring too long, as younger me would have) I’m going to make a conscious effort to smile at them or nod or even, if the situation warrants it, go up and tell them that I think they’re adorable together, so they can feel as welcomed as I did.

LDR Tips | Rabb.it

Last week I wrote about how great it is to watch TV shows together on the phone while far away from your partner, and a lovely blogger named Sarah commented to suggest that we try out rabb.it, a website that allows you to stream a video via a shared connection. Dubiously, I checked it out, worried that like so many other streaming sites it would be clunky and filled with viruses waiting to happen.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a very neat, streamlined site that was easy to use and gave plenty of video and chatting options! After signing up, you get your own “Room” to which you can invite people via e-mail. They don’t even have to make their own account to join. Then you choose a streaming host or site to go to.

rabb.it

Once you’ve chosen – for us it was Netflix – it comes up like this:

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You’re able to navigate the site and you can both see it, and even switch between who has control. In the lower left are your icons – when she joined me, there was another one next to mine – which can be voice only or video chat. Once you’re both there, all you have to do is hit play and watch! It makes it way easier and really does feel like you’re in the same “room” together, even though this one is virtual.

LDR Tips | Netflix and Phone?!

In this day and age we love to watch TV together. In fact, it’s often better and more rewarding than actually talking to each other. (Cue the gasps of everyone born before 1950.) Even the Baby Boomers know that Netflix is where it’s at. My parents have been trying to get my brother and I out of the house constantly so they have time to be alone together…and watch Downton Abbey.

Netflix is what seems to be keeping love alive these days and hey, that’s okay; at least something’s doing it. If you’re in a long-distance relationship, then Netflix seems to be generally off the cards. After all, what’s the point in Netflixing without the chilling?

I was in this mindset until my girlfriend and I decided to do what all 90s kids used to do – we grabbed our cell phones, our respective bowls of popcorn, and queued up the first episode of The L Word. (Insert corny stereotype joke here.)

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Whatever. It’s like the gay Gossip Girl and if you think I didn’t watch with rapt attention as I blew through all 6 seasons of that overdramatic Upper East Side prep school bullshit in under a month then you’re wrong.

Our show choice aside, I had qualms about how this would work out. Even saying “Let’s hit start on go. One, two, three, GO!” didn’t keep us perfectly in time with each other. One of us inevitably ends up ahead of the other and laughs at jokes first, and forget about trying to pause it because that just makes everything all that much wonkier.

Technical difficulties aside, though, it was the most bonded to my girlfriend I’d felt since we last saw each other in person. Even if our laughter was staggered, we were still laughing at the same things. We were still talking. “Oh my god NO don’t sleep with her!” and “look at that precious baby bisexual look at her” and “ew this guy is almost as bad as Larry on Orange is the New Black.” It suddenly didn’t matter that she was in Colorado and I was in Pennsylvania because we were both doing the same thing, at the same time.

So give it a try. Even though it seems old-fashioned and maybe you think it’ll be awkward, I guarantee  you that the frustrations will only last a few minutes and the benefits will far outweigh them in the end.

Our Story

I never intended to enter into a long distance relationship.

I had done that before. And while it wasn’t catastrophic, it was difficult. I had been dating my boyfriend at the time for a year and a half when I left to study abroad in London for four months as my first semester of college. I was 18, he was 17, still in his senior year of high school. Where I was living, with seven girls sharing one WiFi router and three rooms, it was very difficult to find time alone to Skype when the connection would be more than just our pixelated faces and delayed audio. When I returned, I found our relationship exactly where it had been when I left in August. We hadn’t slid backwards but we hadn’t moved forward either. It was almost as if our relationship had been frozen in ice for four months – safe and protected, but not dynamic. Not ever-changing, as I wanted it to be. I broke up with him two months later.

So when I found myself studying abroad again, this time in Italy for the spring semester of my sophomore year, I decided that I would absolutely not fall in love. Not with an Italian, and not with anyone who didn’t go to my college or at least live near me in the States. I wasn’t going to do long distance again. I wasn’t going to pin myself to someone who wouldn’t be nearby.

But the heart wants what it wants, of course, and so as fate would have it, I met a girl.

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Her name is Kayla, and we went to Florence in mid-February together. She told me she was bisexual at dinner and I excused myself to the bathroom to text my best friend frantically with “what do I do she likes girls I’m freaking out!” My friend responded “Just tell her you’re interested!”

Instead I returned to the table and ordered more wine for both of us.

The wine did the trick and before we knew it we were in our hotel room making out like the classiest of college students.

The next morning, however, I made a dick move: I pretended it hadn’t happened. I didn’t want to be in a relationship, and certainly not with someone who lives and goes to school in Colorado while I live and go to school in Pennsylvania. I was convinced it couldn’t work out, so I decided to do what I do best when under pressure: ignore it and hope it goes away.

Of course, it did not go away, so a week later, under pressure from friends who know me far better than I know myself, I messaged her explaining why I was being distant and weird. And she responded that she didn’t want anything long-term but that she’d be more than willing to continue this ‘whatever it was’ while we were abroad.

And because she’s her, I couldn’t resist. I agreed, and soon enough we were doing couple stuff like grocery shopping together, skiing in the Alps together (I somehow managed to ski sideways across a hill into her and knock us both over), and going on more trips to the Amalfi Coast, Cinque Terre, and Siena.

By the time we got to Cinque Terre, we were done for. We were girlfriends in everything but name.

kayla and I riomaggiore

Kayla and I at Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre

It was kind of the perfect love story, but I was too scared to let it be one. I didn’t want to go into a long distance relationship so badly that I was willing to sacrifice what I had with Kayla, which was something really great. She understands my sarcastic sense of humor, she agrees with most of my opinions, she has a lot of the same interests as me… But because long distance had been so difficult when I was in London, and because it hadn’t worked out with him in the end, I was worried that she and I were doomed to go down the same path.

In the end, as May neared and saying goodbye to her became an immediate and very real concern, I realized that I couldn’t say goodbye forever. Even though I’d fought against falling in love, even though I’d worried myself blue in the face about getting into a relationship,  I had gone and done it anyway. We were dating and I was falling for her no matter what.

So now we’re entering a new stage of our relationship; a more difficult stage. And I’m excited, and terrified, but I’ll share all of it here in this space. The good, the bad, tips and tricks, thoughts and concerns about long distance, the works.