My boyfriend and I had barely been together two months before we had to go long distance. Granted, we knew this was coming and we had known each other for far longer than that, yet that didn’t seem to console me the day he had to move away. I’m known for being a crier – I cry at absolutely everything and still, I was surprised at how many tears I was able to produce that day. I stumbled away from his house, wearing his tear-soaked jumper and began counting down the days until I could see him again.
Despite how clingy that may initially seem, my boyfriend and I enjoy a rather relaxed long-distance relationship in comparison to the common stereotypes. There is generally a pressure to be constantly Facetiming and planning the next meet-up as a way of always having something to look forward to. My boyfriend and I only ever meet up once a term – partly because my boyfriend has a very intense academic lifestyle, but also because the 240 mile journey is financially and logistically unrealistic to do multiple times a term. Instead, we make up for it in many other ways like weekly Facetime calls, live watching University Challenge together and making the most of the time we do spend together.
However, our most sacred tradition is sending each other cards and letters every so often. The art of letter writing is really undervalued in the modern age – yes, it is easier, quicker and probably cheaper to send a quick text, but this makes it much less meaningful. The excitement of having the letterbox flutter as an unexpected handwritten envelope falls through is unmatched. My boyfriend started this tradition when he sent me a postcard when he got to his new university city and it’s still pinned proudly above my desk amongst an assortment of others for various occasions or just because he felt like it. I returned the favour and admittedly at times one upped him – I did make paper ghosts with googly eyes for a Halloween themed letter which I’m sure spooked the porter handling his post.
As a self-confessed memory hoarder, I have kept every single one of these cards and letters as well as various different random objects from the past year of our relationship. Seashells and a Prosecco cork from our holiday to Scotland, a playing card from when his distant relative gave us an impromptu magic show, a heart ornament that came with a Valentine’s Day bouquet of flowers – all of which seem sort of insignificant on their own but make me smile and remind me of better times, particularly in what has been the darkest of them all at the moment.
If you’re in a long-distance relationship, this is my call to you to change up your routine a bit. I’m not saying to throw your phone out all together or to start sending carrier pigeon messages but sometimes the littlest and most unexpected things mean a lot. As my boyfriend so eloquently put it: “it’s nice to send you something real to record how much I’m missing you”. Writing is an intimate act when so much intimacy is unachievable in a long-distance relationship.
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