I never thought we would last this long. I never thought my junior high school boyfriend would stand by my side for over six years. He claims that he kissed several frogs and none of them turned into a princess until I came along. For me, he remains the only frog I ever kissed.
I grew up intoxicated with the idea of love.
Like any other Latinx child, I watched Disney movies, romantic comedies and of course novellas (soap operas). In all of these stories, the two future lovers meet under an unusual, humorous or cute circumstance. This results in a push and pull dynamic that, ultimately, leads to a happy ending. I never considered myself ugly, at least not according to my grandma and mom, but for 16 years of my life I never got any male attention whatsoever. “You’re too young, your time will come” my mom used to say. She, as usual, turned out right, my time finally came, but it turned out nothing like the movies.
My sister’s best friend’s older brother seemed “perfect” for me, or so my sister and her best friend always said. They described him as hot, tall, muscular, kind, funny, single and Spanish speaking. So, they arranged for us to meet. To this very day, it remains one of the most awkward experiences in my life. Breath check. Lip smackers. International night. People watching. Sweaty palms. Awkward hug. When we opened our mouths to speak, our first conversation went like this:
Him: “Hi, I am …..”
Me: “Hi, I am Fabi.”
Him: “Nice to meet you.”
Me: “You too.”
Him: “Can I have your Snapchat?”
Despite the initial awkwardness, our sisters turned out talented cupids. We went on a date and eventually, he met my parents and friends. He told me every detail about his past, I told him every detail about mine. He got vulnerable with me, I got vulnerable with him. He laughed at my jokes, I laughed at his. He constantly lied, saying “you look beautiful” every time I experimented with my hair. He told me about his dreams and I told him about mine.
We went from strangers to best friends and soulmates.
After a year passed, he graduated from high school and started college. After two years passed, I graduated from high school and went to the same college as him. We carpooled to school and attended events together. Suddenly pulling all-nighters to finish our homework seemed enjoyable.
In 2020, when he became a senior in college, he went on a spring break trip with friends, expecting to come back from the week-long vacation and finish up college. However, the global pandemic forced the whole world to quarantine and cancelled his college graduation ceremony. After four years of blood, sweat and tears, he only got a Zoom ceremony. Like many other college graduates, with no success, he applied to every job offer he could find. I could see his stress and frustration growing each time he got an email saying, “We are unable to offer you a position at this time…” Adulting, am I right? Thankfully I still got two-job-searching-stress-free years. “Don’t worry, that job wasn’t for you, your time will come,” I often said to him. God, I sound like my mother.
“I got the job!”
He told me one summer day with a smile that extended from ear to ear while jumping up and down and clapping his hands. I got up, congratulated him and jumped with him. “There’s only one thing… I would have to move to Texas,” he said. From that moment on, our life as we knew it changed. Every moment we shared together held tremendous weight, because soon he would move away, making us join the long-distance couples’ club.
For the previous five years, we lived a very short distance relationship.
He lived only .2 miles away from me, in the suburbs of Bethesda, Maryland. Whenever I missed him, I just walked down the street and knocked on his door. Now, whenever I miss him, I must FaceTime him. “At least you have the internet and technology and can call him whenever,” my mom said to me. “Back in the day, phone calls were expensive, so you could only talk for a few minutes. I had to send letters and they would take months to arrive.” True, I cannot imagine doing long-distance in a pre-internet time. Thank you, Steve Jobs, for making my life easier.
Still, no one told me that membership in the long-distance couples’ club came with sleep deprivation. I am constantly sleep-deprived. The best time to talk takes place at night. Right before going to sleep, at the end of a long day, a FaceTime call turns into hours of therapeutic talking. These calls turned into part of our daily routine. I truly long for our nightly FaceTime calls. But why do I look so bad on FaceTime? Do I really look like this?
Although I get more time to focus on me, I miss him deeply.
Whenever I manage to make a decent meal, I wish he could try it. Whenever I see a couple holding hands or hanging out in public, I envy them. I even feel like punching them in the face because I cannot hold his hand. The hoodie he gave me started losing his scent. Our conversations of constant “I miss you’s,” and “I wish you were here” occasionally get interrupted by poor Wi-Fi connection. Our dates now consist of picking out a movie or tv show and saying, “Okay let’s count, 1, 2, 3 play!” We watch more movies now than ever before. I am ready for a movie trivia. My email inbox overflows with flight price alerts to find a flight that can fit my student budget. Why must flights cost over $50?
On the bright side, the long-distance couples’ club comes with some benefits. I don’t need birth control or to worry about whether I am going to get my period each month. Who am I kidding? If I could choose a superpower, without hesitation I would choose teleportation, only then would 1,327 miles mean nothing. Long-distance love feels like giving a treat to a dog and telling him not to eat it yet. It’s waiting for the next season of your favorite show, knowing once you start watching it, it will end very soon. It feels like getting ice cream and realizing how little time you can enjoy it before it melts. It feels like knowing that Mufasa dies but crying anyway. It feels bittersweet.