I remember once, in passing, how I read that every long distance relationship has that one ultimate goal: the end date.
That is to say, we that put ourselves in this unnecessary position all aim towards that rough estimate in time where we aim to close the distance. I don't know why, but that sounds kind of ominous. Or maybe that's an accurate way for it to sound since, you know, maybe once there's no distance, our relationships will crash and burn so viciously that we'll join the crowd of "LDR ARE SO FUCKING STUPID OMG."
Anyway...I'm here to say that I have an end date. Rejoice.
But what I'm here to say even more is that there is so much...more to what this means. Has meant. For years. I talk primarily about my long distance relationship because I know a lot of people hear that I'm wanting to, planning to, preparing to move and automatically think that it's because of my long distance relationship. I'm here writing this post because there is so much more beneath the surface to my decision - to all of the decisions I've made over the past decade of my life.
Warning: this is a long one.
I've been in quite a few long distance relationships.
I don't like to admit to it, because I don't like explaining to those who don't want to hear it, but that's a fair and relevant fact.
It was never hard to do, with the way my personality works. In fact, it all started because of how shy and quiet I was. The first person I ever loved here in NYC ended up hurting my heart significantly, and making friends was hard enough as it was. My first LDR was patient with me, his family was extremely welcoming (I'm still in touch with his cousins), and we never met because I ended things pretty badly. The whole thing was a mess. Ah well, stupidity and youth go hand in hand more often than not.
What I'm trying to say is that my first LDR fell under the predictable. It happened by chance, with me not knowing what exactly it would mean for both of us, had we stood together. Within a couple of years, though, the decision to be in an LDR had much more purpose to it.
I knew stupid facts about California. Stuff like how their tuition wasn't ridiculous like the tuition in NYC, how one of my favorite bands was born there, how my absolute favorite singer (Sakamoto) did her first and [seemingly] last U.S. performance there...and then, since my first LDR was from San Bernardino, how southern California has such wonderful weather. The state became an object of desire that ranked very highly on my list of things to do. It became a dream of mine to someday see it myself.
...Then there was the huge dip between high school and college. My relationship with the guy above ended right before I went to college. By then it had been 2 and a half years and I saw my only way to 'close the distance' was by going to college there. First my family was supportive, then not so much, and finally there was my full scholarship to Brooklyn College here in NYC. That was it. I couldn't move, we broke up, and my feelings for New York continued their turn south.
The crowds, the train, the rush, the rain, the traffic, the snow, the buildings, the people. Then the prices, the mindset, the tourists, the reconstruction of Williamsburg, the influx of new people, the garbage, the harsher winters, the elitist attitude. Not having anyone to travel with to see beyond New York yet not being allowed to go alone. I started to hate New York.
I would say my disgust with this place was gradual at first but it took a huge drop throughout college, especially after I studied abroad. In fact, I wanted to study abroad for a few reasons, but the most enticing of them all was the fact that I'd be out of New York for 6 months, and that because it was through school it would actually serve a better purpose than just that.
I was in another LDR by then, and I decided to study where he lived so that I wouldn't be totally alone. I spent 6 months in the Netherlands and even though that relationship, too, ended, those 6 months were some of the most important months of my life.
I saw life in another place and I loved it. The lifestyle was different, as was the mindset, and I was able to find joy and peace in the simplest of things, no money required. Everyone talked about culture shock but the only shock I felt was by month three, when I was crying every night because I missed my family terribly. In fact, I didn't know what culture shock was until I was back in New York.
Anyone from New York may find resonance in this: you know you're back in New York the second you step into the airport. The staff are already, for the most part, nasty, there are mobs of people, and there is the slightest sign of organization that makes you wonder how the damn thing functions. Well, my culture shock started there. Stepping outside, there was the thick, heavy blanket of humidity that I hadn't felt in months. Then there was the drive home, where it wasn't more than a few minutes before encountering a driver that drove as though he had no license. Traffic. There was the block party on my block - one we have every year - the very next day in anticipation of the 4th of July. I remember sitting in the yard not knowing what to think or feel. Not wanting to go anywhere yet not knowing what to do in the house.
I decided that New York - city life in general - was not for me. That I didn't want to make a life here, or ever find love here, or raise a family here. There was no question about who would have to make the move in an LDR with me. The thing is, though, once you're here, it is so hard to leave.
I remember stupidly crying when, sitting and watching the electronic map of where we were, I saw our little plane cross the border to California. My first trip there was in 2012, roughly 7 years after I realized that I wanted to go there so badly. By then I was talking to another LDR that I had broken up with previously but kept in touch with. That would be my current boyfriend.
The thing is, California is just a place, just like New York is just a place. But it has so much attached to it for me. And when I saw it for myself, back in 2012, I remember thinking how this place brought me back to the happiest times in my life. Family trips to Florida and Ecuador before my surgery, before my parents divorced, before my abuela got sick, before the rides every weekend with my mom and brother stopped and I started staying inside the house and turning inside myself because I was sad and my personality called for it. The palm trees, the silhouettes of mountains, the lukewarm, cloudless sky. I've had more trips since and know there's so much more, both good and bad, to it now but that doesn't stray from the fact that I fell in love with that place.
I used to publicly write about how much I hate New York on my FaceBook, especially after my trip to California, but I find that this past year, I've reached the bottom of my disgust for this place. And the bottom is actually smooth and quiet and empty. While I still complain, because that's just how I am, I find that I have nothing left to say at times. And then came my decision to settle on an end date.
Music is coming in through the window from the block party happening right now. It's that time of the year again. It's what made me sit here and think. It's what made me decide to write this, trying my best not to cry because I'm still recovering from an infection and crying will do my sinuses no favors. Now, with an end date in place, I'm facing something on a daily basis: last.
This is the last block party I will be here for. My birthday, that just passed, is the last that I will spend here. This is the last 27th of June that I will be sitting in this room, in this house, on this block, in this city that I hate so much. In just over half a year, the family that I love with every part of me will be on the other side of the camera, three hours ahead and 2,800 miles apart. That always gets me crying.
As of today, New York has come up from the rock bottom I've kept it at, and California has come down from the high that I've given it. They are both once again just places on the same ground. Places that people love, places that people hate, places with invisible borders that people spend the hourglass of their lives in. New York isn't for me, but I won't know if California truly is until I'm there. My mom always told me that the grass isn't greener on the other side. The thing is, I rather live with mistakes than live without knowing.
I am terrified of moving, and excited too. But I'm keeping myself grounded, crying a little every day or week, treating the time between now and then as preciously as possible. Taking in the sounds and vibrant looks of those around me immediately, right now. Acknowledging that while I am a loner, the people that I care about and will miss here are more than I can count on both hands. Knowing that some family I will never see again. Trying to understand that the fork in the road for my closest family and me is only temporary, though that final goodbye is going to break me more than any goodbye to my boyfriend ever could.
I will never miss New York, but I have a life here that is mine. That is what I am going without. The risk I'm going to take.
So, you see...while the distance between my boyfriend and I inarguably has always had to close at some point, and will be relieved of so much stress once it does, there's much more to my move than that. Moving is not the simplest decision to make. It is by far not the easiest, either. Relationships beyond this city are the ones I've always gravitated towards because leaving has been on my radar for years, and finding a partner in life here in NYC would be the nail in the coffin.
I guess that is it. That is what I've been wanting to say. Initially, several months ago, I wanted to write a post about why I hate New York, but so much has happened and this is the post that I've actually created instead.
Six months and ten days.