Tats on a plane! - Tactical Ninja
Aug. 19th, 2011
10:56 am - Tats on a plane!
OK now that's out of the way..
I've been pretty low key about this visit to Hong Kong - at least, publicly I have. Even though I only spent 2 weeks there last time and there is loads of it I haven't seen, it's not a new place. I have none of the associated fear/trepidation/anticipation I had the first time. I know that when I get there I'll be able to get my MTR ticket, find food, know which stops to get off at and find my way around. I know the layout of the local area well enough to get from Dr Wheel's house to his work on foot, or to pretty much anywhere else I want to go. I know that if I should find myself lost, a little old man will pop up and give me directions.* I know that Hong Kong isn't somewhere I want to live so I won't be viewing it with those eyes this time.
In other words, all my excitement is about seeing Dr Wheel - the location doesn't matter. Having said that, we have planned to spend part of this visit in China (only just in China, but still) so that'll be exciting.
One of the things I have always loved about Dr Wheel is his sense of adventure. When I said "Hey let's go to AfrikaBurns instead of Burning Man" he went "Hell yes" with no hesitation. And we went, and discovered South Africa (again only just) together, and it was awesome because he's got the perfect mix of wide-eyed spontaneity and competent practicality to make travelling fun but not stressful. I would happily go anywhere in the world with him.
Staying somewhere in the world without him, however, is hard. I decided early on in the piece that I wanted to support this thing I love about him and not try to kill it for the sake of my own security - so when life took him on international adventures and me on domestic ones, I was excited for him. Nearly a year down the track, I've learned a thing or two about long distance relationships and that's been something of an adventure as well. I am extremely thankful that I'm in a position to visit regularly and that he can do the same - without that it'd be a lot harder. The time between visits is a mix of going about my life as if I were single, saving up the interesting tidbits for the weekly Skype session and making sure enough of my life is put here every day to maintain a sense of connection. Dr Wheel is not a habitual blogger the way I am, so I don't get quite the same picture of what's going on with him and I do find that difficult - however, my brain carries a representation of him wherever I go and even when we haven't interacted in days I still have a sense of his ephemeral presence.
I've found that the timing of visits is more important than I thought it would be. Originally I thought that since we're both independent people, it wouldn't matter how often we saw each other since we both have plenty to do and the internet allows almost-immediate communication. However, the time difference (four hours/five hours depending on season) means that we are never in the same time of day when we talk. This limits Skyping to the weekends because otherwise he's at work when I'm going to bed. So even though I can see and hear him, and maintain that sense, the wavelength we're on is just a little bit out of sync. Since one of the great things about our relationship is the way we gel, the sense of not-quite-gelling is a noticeable factor in multitimezone communication. And not being able to touch, smell and taste (which is how I traditionally experience the world given my till-now crappy eyesight and semi-deafness), reduces the bandwidth of communication by a significant amount.
After a while of only communicating this way, there comes a time when the actual relationship feels as if it's become secondary to the maintenance of the relationship. This is a hard concept to try and explain - kind of like the effort required to overcome the barriers of distance and time is a demonstration of love in proxy for the lived experience of love. The lived experience is higher-bandwidth, more full, more fulfilling - and so two weeks of f2f can keep me going on the Lite version for a couple of months.
When it stretches to three months as it has this time (for various reasons outside our control, that's just what happened), the memory of what that feels like fades and I'm left with the ephemeral presence in my brain, regular low-bandwidth catchup conversations and anticipation of the next visit, which is where it starts to feel like relationship maintenance rather than a relationship. Three months is long enough to make it hard.
Is it worth it? Hell yes. No question, and if I had to I would maintain for a lot longer - Dr Wheel is that awesome and we have been connected for a lot longer than we've been a couple, often without any contact at all for months. But I will take this lesson I've learned about how distance feels over periods of time and use it for future reference - for me, in my relationship, two to two-and-a-half months is long enough to go without seeing each other while maintaining maximum satisfaction.
And in case you're wondering, why yes, I do plan to maximise my Dr Wheel upload/download while I have the chance. There will be EXTREME FILESHARING!
(ok done stretching the analogies beyond recognition now)
Also, I'm aware that many people who read this are in their own long distance relationships, especially those whose partner is in the armed forces. I have no idea how you guys cope - maybe you get used to it, maybe it's just different when someone's living that kind of life instead of more-or-less the same kind of life you are, only not with you. Maybe you're all just made of tougher stuff than me.
What I do know is that it hasn't shaken my view that loving someone includes supporting their growth and exploration and pursuit of passion. If I had to make that choice again, I'd still choose this over trying to stop him leaving or ending the relationship. But I acknowledge that it's been harder than I expected and I'm looking forward to him and I being in the same spatio-temporal location again.
Cos he's nice. <3
There's a very good chance he'll be home at Christmas. Actually home, not just for a visit. And then we'll be starting a new adventure together. One which, if everything goes according to plan, will facilitate more future adventures of the "Hey lets do this crazy thing" variety.
* It's a superpower of mine.
So, um, yeah. I'll be at Fidels tonight for a wee while, but I have to get up at 3:30am to catch a plane so it won't be a late one. Portal 2, I'm looking at you sternly right now.