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February 28, 2011 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Love. Long Distance

I met Erik in 2007. He was tall, blond, had impeccable taste in music and understood Judith Butler. His accent made his perfect English sound cultured and adorable. He wore bright red corduroy pants, had a hairstyle, and owned more than 20 pairs of shoes. I never knew boys could look like that.

It was not love at first sight. We were both exchange students living in a dorm in Canada. At the time I was trying to solicit the attention of a hip-hop Elijah Wood look-alike from Newfoundland whom I’d had a one-night stand with. I’d never really thought about Erik in that way until…

I left the bar I’d been at with a gang of exchange students to find everyone had melted into the night, leaving a heavily intoxicated Erik slumped in a planter, alone. I picked him up, draped his arms around my shoulders, and tottered off in the direction of home. He refused to budge until I bought him pizza. He decided to share by pressing the oozing slice into my face, and then flung it away like a cheesy discus after only two bites. We stopped so he could piss on the side of a church. And then every block he would refuse to move until I kissed him. And so we made our stilted way home, where I took off his shoes and put him to bed.

We didn’t really talk about it, and just continued as friends—until we played footsie all the way through his birthday movie marathon, and then made out in a frenzy after everyone else had gone to bed. We started spending all our time together. He even moved into my room after I puked Christmas turkey all over his heater. The smell of crusted sick was inescapable.

But soon the exchange period was over, and we faced our final night together. We reprised our first ‘date’: we got drunk in town. We pissed on the church, the snowy air nipping at our genitals. We mushed pizza in each other’s faces and flung slices to the wind. We woke up just in time for his taxi to take him to the airport. There was a flurry of packing and no real goodbye. We didn’t promise anything.

Within a month, we’d decided we couldn’t live without each other. He took a year off uni, got a Working Holiday visa and came to live with me in New Zealand. He returned for the European summer, and nearly didn’t come back a second time. But he did. I finished my degree at the end of the year, and moved with him to his home country. I’d never been before, didn’t speak the language, and knew no-one, but I had him. I was happy.

Until we broke up. His idea, not mine. Maybe the practicalities meant that we had to move too fast; maybe he was uncomfortable being so much of my world. Or maybe it would never have worked even if we were both from the same country. I got my heart broken on the other side of the world in the middle of winter, and suddenly faced Christmas alone. Wounded, I flew home.

And then I went back. I was in a Masters program that I was enjoying, I had a part-time job I liked, and I had become reasonably fluent in the language. I wasn’t living there for Erik now: I was there for me too.

Love ends—even when you have defeated all the obstacles, overcome geography and culture and immigration laws and money, even when friends and family support you, even when you have heaps in common and believe in the same things. Even when you don’t want it to, love ends. But it’s worth trying, not only for the potential goal of eternal love and happiness, but for the attempt itself. My love was not a rollercoaster ride: it took me some interesting places, but left me poorer and jelly-kneed back where I started. Love ended, and I’m sad and angry that it did, but I’m very happy with where it took me, and where it left me.


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  1. riyad says:

    michelle that’ neat…it is simply described wisdom deduced from one phase of life. love changes> is another longer road that perhaps is a road not taken as often until a few dead ends have been faced. hope u find that too…

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