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A case for good men, hasty declarations and long distance love

Against our better judgment, Andrew and I embarked upon a two-year long distance relationship after only three weeks of dating. The honeymoon phase hadn’t even ended when I drove away from Denver; the city we both called home for so many years before finally crossing paths.

At that time, we knew so little about the future, but in a way so little about the future even mattered. We knew we were crazy about each other. We knew we could laugh and talk for hours, geek out over food, film and music and that intimacy - both physical and emotional - felt surprisingly natural. We also knew we had little to lose; long distance relationships either worked or didn’t. In the early days it felt exhilarating. As we tackled communication issues, personal hang ups and fears for the future, however, we realized we had a great deal to lose.

In the three months since we'd first met, I’d given Andrew several opportunities and he’d never taken them. So, when the opportunity to live abroad presented itself, I’d said yes without a second thought. Life was stagnant. For nearly six years (which was longer than I’d committed to anything, save a beat up Ford Tempo), I’d been at the same job, doing the same things, meeting the same lackluster men and watching my 20’s quietly slip away. Call it a quarter life crisis, but it felt more profound than a cheesy sitcom or a John Mayer song.

I accepted my new position on January 11 and would leave the following month; on January 22 Andrew finally called. Three hours later he knocked politely at the door, hockey tickets in hand. Four hours later we devoured fry bread tacos and lamented the Avalanche’s sound defeat by Chara’s Bruins. Two hours after that we lingered over gimlets and tonics in a quiet tavern. We were together everyday until February 12th.

Our friends were happy, surprised and supportive. If they were also doubtful, they didn’t let on - save one. Between entree and dessert, she declared the whole thing stupid, irresponsible. Why limit yourselves? Long distance relationships never work, she said. I defended our decision, but wondered if we'd been naive. Would this amazing lusty fervor we'd discovered in each other translate over miles and technology? Would three weeks be enough to build on for 12 months...or longer? They were questions I couldn’t answer; it was the only time an outside opinion un-steadied me, even for a moment.

The day I left we stood sweaty and short of breath, staring into the hollow end of the bursting moving truck. The whole of my life was swaddled in newspaper; delicately prepared for a long hibernation in my childhood home three states away. It took two steps to boost me into the driver’s seat. I leaned back against the molded foam and lost it. He let me hold him, kiss him and empty my fears and doubts out onto his shoulder as the engine hummed.

Andrew could have offered to drop everything and come along, or begged me to stay, but that's not how things go after you shake off the relationships of youth. We agreed to distance, we agreed to avoiding grand, irrational gestures, we agreed I should see this through. Plus, we both knew it wasn't just the leaving him, it was leaving everything. Denver was the place I'd become an adult; the first place I'd ever truly started from scratch. My friends, home and intimate knowledge of the city had all taken years to acquire. Yet I was gambling both comfort and happiness on a faraway Asian peninsula sight unseen.

As the city and mountains grew faint in the rear view I imagined a future that only three weeks earlier seemed impossible. We'd celebrate our first anniversary from opposite sides of the world. We'd constantly have to take time zones and Daylight Savings into account, and struggle with unpredictable internet connections. We'd spend far too much money on long distance charges and never be truly satisfied by technology-based lovemaking. We'd miss a year of birthday dinners, holidays, romantic getaways, declarations and unifications. We'd wait months and months just to look each other in the eye when we said "I love you" for the first time. We'd have anticipation, love letters, honest conversation, creative intimacy, surmountable struggle and trust.

Despite my long held beliefs that no good men existed in Denver, Andrew proved just how good a man could be. He was, and is, patient yet assertive; supportive yet challenging; and loyal to a fault. When I fell in love with Korea, he was genuinely happy. When the shimmer faded, he encouraged me to stick it out. When my contract was extended for a second year, he bought a plane ticket. Without even trying, he convinced me a year (and then two) isn't really that long, 6,000 miles isn't really that far, and a history isn't always necessary to plan a future.

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