Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Long distance relationships

I was lying in bed this morning, thinking about a possible blog post I could write. Should I write about my first year actually living with Corey? Should I talk about our year and a half apart? And then I went through my usual blogs while eating my breakfast...and Any Other Wedding is doing what I think is a two part (may be more, we shall see) post about long distance relationships. So, well...I guess that's telling me what I should write about. Before reading...this is nowhere near as funny as the post on there is. And secondly, I will brush past a few things that happened in the year without going into details. I want this blog to be honest and warts and all, but when it comes to events that involve other people, I will not talk about anything that may hurt said people, bring back memories or upset them in anyway.

So, from the beginning. Corey and I met, as I said before, on our very first day at university. We fell in love. We had an obscenely fun time together. I am not lying when I tell you that we had one of "those" relationships, where people on the outside look in and envy us. I know this because people living in the same house told us so. We laughed a lot, we never fought, we chased each other around the house and insulted one another in funny and playful ways. Corey comes up with some pretty awesome ones. All I could do was tell him how mean and horrible he was. We allowed each other space, and when we were around each other in front of other people, we cuddled, but weren't in your face affectionate. Its just not our style. If we seemed like the "perfect" relationship to other people it was because, for that first year and a half, it was "perfect". I'm bracketing the word because, well, no relationship is perfect, but for that time we were having a pretty long honeymoon period. To say I was a little smug at the fact we'd learnt how to communicate properly without shouting at one another, that we were so close right from the word go would be seriously under exaggerating. We were apart for a month in the summer holidays while Corey inter-railed it around Europe with a friend, but a month really isn't long at all. All it involved was missing him and looking forward to seeing him again.

Both of us went to Leicester with the knowledge we were going to transfer to the four year course in our respective degrees at the end of the first year. We both came to university knowing we were intending to spend a year abroad. We didn't know we were going to meet someone and fall in love. So at the end of the first year, I had a dilemma I never thought I would ever have: do I go abroad and risk losing this wonderful man I had found? Or do I stay in England, where our relationship might end, in any case? We talked, neither of us wanted to try for the Erasmus scheme, we both wanted to go on the international schemes: me to South Africa, he to Australia. If we'd gone Erasmus the furthest distance we would have been apart would have been no more than an hour or two on a plane. On a very affordable plane ticket. But now we were looking at being between 6,000-12,000 miles apart, with time differences ranging from 8-10 hours and plane tickets amounting to close to £1000. But I would never have expected him to give up his dream, and I, well, I didn't want to give up my dream either. So we both applied for the exchange courses. Both of our second choices were European universities. We both got our first choices.

At this point we had a further choice. We discussed what we would do during what we thought would amount to no more than 12 months apart. We were both young, I had never had a relationship before, Corey's longest had lasted 3 weeks before me. And almost everyone around us (including my parents) said that long distance never works. How could we last that long away from each other? So we decided we would "take a break" and then see how we felt when we got back from our respective years apart. Our decision seemed even more justified when we realised that I would be going to South Africa from June to July the following year (following the English university year) and he would be in Australia from February to December (following the Australian university year). So, a year and a half, not the 12 months we thought it would be.

But then the second year of university continued. And we were still having so much fun together. As each month went by we fell more and more in love. The idea of being in a long distance relationship sucked, but the idea of breaking up for that time started to become unthinkable. Half way through that year we had another talk. We decided we were going to go for it. We were going to try and make it work long distance. Again the warnings came. I realised that the people making those warnings didn't want me to get my hopes up, only to have them dashed and me end up hurt and not enjoying my year apart. But breaking up before hand would have meant I would always have wondered. It would have made me regret my time apart. I was pretty philosophical about it at first. If we made it against all the odds, then that would be amazing and wonderful. If we didn't make it, well, we probably wouldn't have been able to cope with other problems that relationships face over time, right?

But then it became closer to the time. My ticket was booked. Exams finished, and I started packing up my stuff to go home from university. I made Corey some picture frames. Well...I made one, he made the other because I wasn't making the animals look right (he didn't know I was making the frames for him). I put some pictures in and I wrote a card telling him how much I loved him, how he has been the best thing that ever happened to me, how, no matter what happens, I'll always be glad I met him. And I left it on his bed while he was out of his room. Corey is not the type of guy who shows his emotions. I've seen him cry a handful of times, twice when he found out his grandfather was ill, once after watching Marley and Me (if anyone judges him for that, all I can say is, watch the film...then come back and judge him). And the third time was after he got my present. Somehow I kept it together and let him be the emotional one for once. My time was still to come. I cried through the entire night before I left our digs at university. I cried a little on the way home.

I then had a week of people coming up to Cambridge to say goodbye before I left. Corey and Joe came up on the same day, but Joe went back that night. The next morning Corey and I walked into town. We were planning on spending the day in the Fitzwilliam museum and just wandering around the city centre. It was not to be. I can still point to the exact part of the wall, going towards the Fitz from the centre of town, where I turned to Corey and said "Thank you for coming up and saying goodbye". The second I said it I burst into tears. Right there. In front of all the tourists, families and people in Cambridge. Uncontrollable sobbing that I had never before experienced. And I didn't stop. We walked until we found a nice field with a bench (plenty of them in Cambridge) and I cried for I don't know how long as Corey held me. I stopped. We walked for a bit longer and chatted, again amongst the meadows and parks of Cambridge. I would start crying again at random intervals, during which time Corey would find a bench, pull me onto his lap and hold me as I sobbed out everything. All my hurt at the thought of being apart from him. All my fear of what was to happen. We weren't going to make it. I just knew it. Everyone was going to be right and this was going to be the last moment I spent in the arms of the man I already knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Eventually we wandered home as it got close to dinner time. Corey left. I sobbed myself to sleep. Three days later I was in the airport with my parents and again we had a little talk about the chances of long distance working out. Please, I know it sounds like my parents were being cruel, but their little girl was sitting in front of them, in obvious pain, and they didn't want to see her hurting even more than that. They were just trying their best to prepare me for the worst. Again, I welled up as I said goodbye to them. They turned away pretty quickly and left. I found out later that it was because my mother was fighting every bone in her body that was saying "Grab her now, put her in the car, and don't let her go". But as I sat there, waiting for my time to depart, the tears began. At first I walked into the bathroom every time I felt them well up. But in the end I just didn't care anymore and just sat there. People kept calling and texting. Corey I didn't think could. The day I left was the day of his grandfathers funeral. But I texted him to say goodbye as I got on the plane. And he found a quiet place in his grandfathers house to call me. I sat there on the plane and listened to his voice until the last possible moment, where I said my final goodbye. And proceeded to cry until I fell asleep. I cried when I woke up. Luckily I'm a silent crier or the person two seats away from me (the plane wasn't full) would have probably smacked me one. I think I probably spent most of my first week in South Africa crying. After all, this just wasn't going to work. Because long distance never does, right?

Later on I'll write a post about those months apart, but for now I think this is long enough...

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