On Dating: Long Distance Relationships Are A Thing I Don’t Want Anymore

When I say that for a really long time I thought the only thing I wanted in a relationship was some type of long distance, I really mean that. I had no attraction to almost any of the males I knew at home and so I was convinced that my soulmate was somewhere across America or the world patiently waiting for our introduction. And this was okay. I, like I’m sure many other hopeless romantics/literature majors taking a Jane Austen class, found something super romantic about a long distance relationship. Two individuals sharing such a deep personal connection that transcended distance and time. How great, right? What could be better than knowing that no matter the space between you and the person you felt closest to, you always felt closest to them. 

This was extra appealing to me because for a long time (aka this might still be a thing today) I was really uncomfortable with all aspects of any sort of physical intimacy. So, I mean, hello, are you understanding what I’m saying? I could have a relationship without constantly having the obligation of providing some sort of physical contact. We’d be apart for a certain amount of time and then we could visit whenever we felt we needed to. I didn’t have to be constantly showing affection or constantly receiving affection, which was something that made me uncomfortable because I’m weird. 

It all sounded really great. And now that I am 22 and basically in a long distance relationship for the first time, I am coming to realize that everything I had thought about them was absolutely wrong. Ok, relationship gods. You win. I was wrong. 

(Disclaimer: you’ll have to excuse me in this post because I will be 100% too dramatic for anything on this earth and for that I am deeply sorry.)

Maybe I was just wrong because now I am in a LDR (I’m going to use this acronym because it’s too much work to type out the whole thing every. single. time) with a boy that I would very very much like to be in an actual relationship with, so that is kind of a bummer mostly, no? I know it’s only a matter of time before I can be around him on a regular basis but it’s all very weird and uncertain to me even though it’s not at all weird and uncertain. When I said I was basically in a LDR, I meant it. I’m not actually in one. But I mean, basically. So, in saying that, I can be around him and he can decide he hates my guts and then all of this was for nothing except sadness and tears. 

Everyone just keeps reminding me about how great it’s going to be when I’m actually able to see him on a regular basis and I believe them. They are 100% correct. Because I visited him about a month ago and it was probably the most perfect week of my life. So, yes, everyone on this earth, you are correct. Except once you leave that perfect week it’s back to being half a country away and it’s like nothing ever actually happened. Ready for cliches because it’s all like a dream. You start to wonder if it even happened because now it’s the opposite of happening. It’s not at all happening. Nothing is at all happening. 

So kudos to you, folks in LDRs because you’re great and less dramatic than I am.

I think my biggest problem, though, with the LDR is the type of crazy person I’ve become. And not even crazy clingy. Or crazy annoying. (I like to keep the crazy to myself, you understand.) It’s become an insecure crazy. An almost jealous crazy (but not quite). I have never felt so insecure before in my life and I can’t even understand why because he is a perfect specimen and he has promised to be mine while I am here and also when I get there so why self, why? He watches football every Saturday and literally disappears for all of eternity and I just get so bothered by the fact that he isn’t paying constant attention to me. And not because I’m mad that he has friends and I do paint by numbers on Saturday nights, but because I keep thinking that he’s going to be out somewhere and meet someone and realize that he doesn’t need to be waiting around for some girl that is half a country away. How stupid is that and am I? So stupid. It’s the stupidest thing I feel like the stupidest thing. 

How do people even do this because this is driving me up a wall but in a good and bad way because I think this is going to end up being the most perfect relationship but also I’m half a country away from it all. 

Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, Kevin Wilson

Yes, hello, I have returned. And yes, I have enough Kevin Wilson fangirling to go around.

Image(HarperCollins edition, 2009)

Okay, so this is basically my favorite book at the moment, I’m not going to beat around any sort of bush here. It’s taken me a long time to find an author and a writing style and a book that I would love to be/have/write. But Kevin Wilson and Tunneling to the Center of the Earth are all of those things. I was first introduced to this collection of short stories courtesy our mutual friend, my writing professor/undergrad advisor. For what seemed like forever, I had the most difficult time finding my individual writing style–I didn’t know who I wanted to be in the literary world. What did I want to write? How did I want to write? After our first conference, my professor handed me this book and suggested I read it. It only took one story to realize that this is what I’ve been needing to read. This is the book I look up to. Kevin Wilson, please be my mentor/adoptive family/best friend forever.

But on a (slightly) more serious note: this collection is fantastic. It’s weird and it’s absurd and nothing about it makes any sense, but it’s all written in such a way that I believe everything Wilson says. Everything he discusses becomes real. All of these things could happen. They happen. I’m sure of it. The stories range from an agency to adopt grandparents to a bunch of college grads digging some holes to men signing up to basically shoot themselves in the face in front of an audience. The characters are believable and likable. Even the guys we aren’t supposed to like, I like. I like them all. Dear goodness, I love this book. I think what’s also so great is that Wilson can capture such a deep thought or deep lesson within such a small space in such a weird environment. Sometimes it happens quickly. So quickly you might miss it. But it’s always there. And it’s always great.

And while I love them all, probably my favorite three stories are as follows: (Also just keep in mind that choosing my top three was probably the most difficult thing I’ve done in a really long time so just let that sink in for a minute.) (PS these are not in the order of my most favorite to least favorite favorite, at this point I’m just writing based on the order they come in within the actual book, ok?)

Blowing Up On The Spot
I think I love this story so much because the guy is just so boring and his life is so equally boring, but I just can’t look away. And then we find out that there’s this one weird occurrence in his entire life and that somehow changes everything we ever thought about him, but at the same it changes absolutely nothing because you think with a backstory like that the guy would be more interesting. The relationship the narrator has with his brother is a great time and the differences between the two are huge and also not huge at all. Maybe the narrator has to be so boring because everything and everyone around him is so the opposite of boring. And despite everything that happens in this story and every sentence written in this story, the best line of the entire thing is the opening statement: “I count my steps because I have a boring and unhappy life.” How great is that for an opening? It basically sums out the entirety of this person’s life, but also (obviously) helps shape the ending of the story, which, while it doesn’t end the exact opposite of it the beginning, does suggest that there will be at least one huge change made in the character’s life.

The Choir Director Affair (The Baby’s Teeth)
I know I said I didn’t have a most favorite favorite, but if I did, this might be it. And I think it mostly is my potential favorite favorite because of the way it’s written. Wilson takes a different route with this one and writes a story in second person, which is weird for basically anything. He creates a hypothetical situation and puts you right in the middle of it. The story tackles two (almost) unrelated subjects as it states in the title (an affair and also some baby’s teeth). The story itself is a little odd, as most of the pieces are, and the way he goes about writing the story is a little odd, but I think in this piece, Wilson gets to a point that holds some relevance to each of us in some way. Something that deals with the ever-changing environment and people we are surrounded by. He captures something so beautiful and something so innocent and honest in such a simple and slightly offbeat way: (I can’t help but quote the passage in it’s entirety because I think it’s so so great.)
Years and years later, you will see the baby again, though it is no longer a baby. The baby is a teenager now, sullen, acned, unaccustomed to its body. The baby works at the grocery store, swiping your items and taking your money. the baby with teeth no longer smiles, no matter how hard you try. And even if the baby were to smile, just a tiny bit, there would be nothing wondrous about it. There would be teeth, the same as anyone else. Perhaps even braces. THe things you thought so amazing about this baby are no longer there, and this makes you inescapably sad.

And as you look one more time at this baby you once thought the world of, perhaps we have shown you the thing we intended all along. You hand a bag of carrots to the former baby with teeth. Your hands touch briefly. There is nothing, only the transaction of an item. Nothing more. You hand over the rest of the items from your cart and as the old baby reaches over to scan each offering, you begin to understand. Don’t you see? The things we once loved do not change, only our belief in them.

Now, right now, you stare at the baby there in the checkout line, and then it is over. You are left with the only things that any of us have in the end. The things we keep inside of ourselves, the grow out of us, that tell us who we are.

Worst-Case Scenario
This was the first story that I read from Wilson/the collection. My professor assigned the story for reading one week and I immediately was drawn to the tone of the piece. The story and its narrator is, like all the other pieces before it, a little odd. Quirky, almost. The company fictional. The occurrences weird. But Wilson writes the story in such a way that doesn’t make us question anything about it. Every word is believable. Every sentence the truth. Here the narrator explores a situation to find the worst-case scenario for each one. What could go wrong. In the end, I think, the worst-case scenario is not taking the chance in fear of the worst-case scenario.