Long Distance Lovers

Photos by  Lourdes Ribas

Long Distance Lovers

The most frustrating part of travelling is the arrival. Just when you think that you’ve reached the end of the journey, you still have to hang on a little bit longer. If you’re on a train, it slows down to a crawl as it approaches the station. If, on the other hand, you’re on a plane that’s just touched down, you still have to sit and wait until everyone else has taken their luggage down. You’re there, where you want to be but you’re still kept a short distance away from complete fulfilment. Holding on seems to take an eternity, especially if you have a long distance lover waiting for you..

After living in different cities, this has always been a familiar scenario to me. More often than not, when I’ve moved to another city I’ve maintained a relationship with a boyfriend who I’d met when I lived in my previous one. For example, when I lived in Paris, I was still emotionally connected with a man who stayed behind in London. We kept in touch daily ,by phone and email, and we saw each other once a month. The geographical distance between us represented something positive for me because it allowed me to focus on my work and my new life. A long distance relationship represented the best of both worlds because, being alone in Paris, I could make the most of my life there while, at the same time, continue to enjoy the emotional “tranquility” of having a partner.

It was strange, where sex was concerned, to spend weeks without him and then, suddenly, spend a whole intense weekend together to make up for lost time. Once I’d become re-acclimatised to our hot and humid sexual environment, it was time to forsake it yet again. Saying goodbye and returning to a semi-single life isn’t the only disadvantage. Resisting the allure of casual lovers, much closer to home, can be extremely challenging during the weeks of separation and abstinence. In the case of those individuals who are easily tempted by infidelities, it may be more a case of  “out of sight out of mind”.
venus o'hara by lourdes ribas mobile
When I finally settled in Barcelona, ​​I decided to give up on long-distance lovers. The truth was that it was a relief to finally be able to meet up with someone for coffee or a drink and have the option to have sex spontaneously if I chose to. After spending thousands of euros on travel and phone bills in past relationships, I promised I would never do it again. But never say never because on several occasions the people I most desired in the world still didn’t live in Barcelona. I didn’t care at all about the cost of airline tickets to go and see them. When we’re not together though, thank heavens for Skype!For me, Skype has revolutionised the potential of long-distance relationships. The possibilities of mutual connection are seemingly endless thanks to tablet computers and smartphones. Now, a long distance lover can accompany me wherever I go: in bed, in the kitchen and even at bus stops or in the supermarket. We can connect whenever and wherever. But you need to have a lot of imagination because the possibilities of sharing physical pleasure are limited: you can see and hear but not touch.

No matter how good Skype is, there’s still nothing quite like getting together physically after being separated by a significant distance for a while. It’s even better if you have to travel to get there. Arrivals are still frustrating, of course, but I’ve learned a few tricks to pass the time more quickly and effectively. For example, I choose my seat online or only take on hand-luggage so I can disembark as fast as possible. If you have a long distance lover, every minute counts.

Translation of ‘Amantes a distancia‘, published in El País.

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