Author’s Note: It took me a long time to write this because being apart is almost unbearable if I think about it too long. This chunk of time in the story takes place from my return to the States in late July in 2016, and pushes all the way to June 2017, the month that Jas comes to America for the first time.
I cried every day after coming back home for at least two weeks.
My family missed me, and I missed them. But I needed space, and I needed Jas. I cried every time they weren’t looking at me. I spent a few extra seconds in the bathroom, staring at my reflection as I washed my hands, letting tears drip into the sink. My eyes watered beneath sunglasses whenever I got into a car. I pretended I couldn’t find the right storage bins whenever something was needed from the basement, just to have moments to myself.
I skyped Jas when I got home, but her voice had gone back to the dull version of itself. I couldn’t smell her perfume. There was no height difference to be annoyed about. She was untouchable in a heartbreaking way.
But it wasn’t just the distance. It wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t waking up to her every morning anymore, or the absence of her in every moment. It was the painfully heavy weight of uncertainty that pressed me into the size of a raisin with every breath. We talked about her coming to visit me next summer when I was completely done with school, and she would have a break to visit. But there was no way of knowing if we would ever get that far. All we had was hope and a lot of unshared anxieties about what would happen to us.
So we pretended. We spent every day pretending that we weren’t scared because that was the only way we could make it to next summer. We let ourselves talk about the things we would do together, which is how we managed before. Yet somehow, this was harder than before. Now I knew exactly what I wanted, and I was stuck not having it. Now, I knew that our lives could fit so perfectly together, and to be separated from that sliver of perfection was the thing that kept me up at night.
I was probably bitter for quite some time. It was hard to look at people around me who are in relationships, where they could be together and hold each other‘s hand when they watched movies. I hated myself for resenting people that loved each other in front of me. I had a close friend in a five-hour-distance relationship, and a sister who could only see her boyfriend on the weekends. Listening to them talk about the difficulties in their relationships made every day harder for me. That isn’t to say that I don’t think life was easy for my friend or my sister, but having to listen to someone complain about a scenario that I would kill for–it made me miserable.
It wasn’t easy to live like this. There were times that I think both of us wondered if we could make it through; I think we always kind of wondered that in the back of our heads, and maybe we will keep wondering that until we don’t have to anymore.
But we pushed through. There are lots of things that we did together, a series of unconventional digital dates and activities. We watched a lot of shows together while we Skyped, which is something we did beforehand. We also played Farmville together sometimes, as embarrassing as that is. It started as a fun competition to see who could go further in the levels, until Jas took advantage of how much time I had to spend on school when I went back, and then went ten levels ahead of me. To this day, I still have not been able to catch up.
Holiday seasons were the hardest. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s are supposed to be holidays that you spend with people you love. And I had to spend it without my person. I wanted her to meet my family, and I wanted my family to meet her. I wanted to take her to holiday parties, even with the extended family that I don’t like. I wanted everyone to know her.
My aunt had called my mom about our yearly Christmas Eve party and told her that we could bring any of our “partners.” That was the first time that someone related to me–outside of my immediate family–had validated my identity. I wish I could’ve brought Jas with me more than anything. But we had several months more to wait.
I couldn’t go anywhere without picturing Jas there too. I spent weeks going to classes and back, thinking about what I would show Jas when she was there. Would we go for walks along campus? Would I take her in the nature trails? Where would we eat lunch? How much time would we actually spend in the city? Who would be around to meet Jas when she gets here?
Weekends spent back at home were much the same. I pictured her in my garden. I pictured her sitting on my patio. I would picture her laying on my bed, at the dinner table, on a barstool, on the couch, on the front porch, in the car. I saw her everywhere I went; I saw her meeting every person I knew. These things kept me okay.
Sometime in the early spring, Jas bought her flights to come to the States for the first time. She was scheduled to arrive at the very end of June and stay until early September. I was so ready for her to be here, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It made wrapping up my last year of university rushed and busy and optimistic. I waited a long time for her to be here and see my life as it is. And after almost three years of knowing her, it was finally about to happen.