Aging & Dying, Zen & Dharma

The progress of long-distance love

crows troutlake horiz8This long-distance cross-border love thing—this thing that everyone says DON’T DO, it’ll drive you crazy, it’ll never work—i daresay, seems to be working. The naysayers are probably right, too—long-distance love never does work. For the young. But I am a grownup, and grownup love is different.

I am in love with an American man, and there have been times when it has felt utterly crazy-making. There have been days when i was sure it was all just plain over. I have sat with those possibilities, and realized that if this particular love experiment did crash and burn, I would be sad but i wouldn’t die. I knew that if I did not stake my ego on the outcome, there was truly nothing to lose by loving wholeheartedly. Truly, there is nothing to lose by expressing genuine love, no matter whose turn it might be to send the next text message. The sun never squanders its warmth. It is never diminished by shining. And so I vowed this time, not to hold back, but to give honestly and generously—and at the same time, not to be stupid and get carried off on fantasies. I vowed to stay fiercely and lovingly real.

So we began, in the face of all unlikelihood. We have managed to see each other every month or so for the past year, for weekends and visits and a couple of delicious road trips. But, alone on my faraway island with so much time and space between visits, I have had plenty of time and space to stew and concoct stories. Through dark nights of the soul I have had to sit up with my ghosts: my doubts, my neuroses and my terrors. A ghost for every time i’ve been dumped cold, one for every time i’ve let foamy fantasies carry me away, one for every time i have felt unworthy and unlovable, and for every time i have looked to another to validate my life. I have caught myself red-handed in projection, ascribing motives, donning armor, acting small. Shuttering my heart for pre-emptive protection. Fifty-two years of endless echoes; of self-fulfilling prophecy. All my ancient twisted karma, knocking at my door.

I am training myself to look those sad little ghosts in the eye and say, you’re not real. You’re dead. Knowing at the same time that, stone dead or not, they’ll be back again to visit in my moments of weakness. So, I keep an extra cushion for my ghosts. I try to be kind and invite them to tea, and again we will sit side by side til they get tired and melt away. We’re old friends now, my demons and I, and when they come to visit I no longer freak out and slam the door. But neither will I succumb and be stupid.

So it is a year now, of practicing grownup long-distance love. Love devoid, for the most part, of drama or giddy infatuation. Without tidal waves of lust, or sucking whirlpools of need. Minus all the cross-eyed hype the pop songs tell us is ‘love’, even at a distance, it keeps getting better. Sweeter, stronger, steadier, more real. More romantic, even—and the sex is juicier too. Slow and steady. We have all the time in the world. Far or near, grownup love is the bomb.

<photo: crows on trout lake>



One Commnet on “The progress of long-distance love

  1. Bottom line… don’t listen to anyone but yourself. Why give someone else authority over you? So, you’re doing good.

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