Roxy Bourdillon on the agony and ecstasy of long-distance loving


Confession time. I have had a lot of long-distance relationships. Whole oceans full, in fact, of pining, whining, spontaneous-sobbing-on-public-transport LDRs. Some women like tomboys, others fancy femmes, I’m drawn to those in different time zones.

I met my current girlfriend online and for the first year, we lived at opposite ends of the M1. Our song was Cyndi Lauper’s I Drove All Night. I asked her how she’d found it. “Tiring. I put on a lot of weight, got into a lot of debt and lost a lot of friends. I couldn’t recommend it enough.”

Of course there are benefits to long-distance love affairs. You can really slack off on your shaving regime and use the other side of your double bed for storage. But the best part is that you both go the extra mile, or 193 miles in our case, to make those precious moments you do have together sparkle. Like the time I showed up at the bus station sporting stockings, suspenders, a basque and, in order to avoid giving the driver a heart attack, a flasher mac. Not exactly the comfiest of travelling attire, but not being able to breathe for six hours had its advantages. I barely noticed the Megabus’ famed aroma of eau d’armpit. If you fancy trying this at home, be warned. If that Megabus emergency stops, those Megaboobs might just Megaburst out of that Megabasque. At that point, I was less Sophia Loren, more Carry On Up The Coach.

With the cost of travel and raunchy undercrackers, we couldn’t stretch to proper holigays. So, in an attempt to transform her back garden into a tropical paradise, she bought me a paddling pool. That’s right. I spice up our love life by dressing like a slutty goddess, she does it by purchasing an inflatable tub designed for a toddler.

Aside from Megaboob-gate and sipping champers paddling-poolside, my most potent memory of that year is the gnawing, physical ache that engulfed my heart. I spent countless nights alone, spooning my pillow and pretending it was her. I longed for the touch of her skin, the scent of her hair, and frequently found myself wandering around my flat sniffing her t-shirt like a lesbian possessed. Whenever we were reunited we did our best to soak up every second and store it for later, but the knowledge of our imminent parting hung heavy over our heads, as did the 4am alarm call on the Monday morning.

I don’t know how my nervous system survived such prolonged torment. We spoke daily, but long and winding phone calls aren’t the same as face-to-fanny physical contact. There’s no greater passion killer than your dirty talking sesh being interrupted by bad signal. And Lord knows, you can’t scissor a webcam.

I wonder if queer women, just like 18th century poets, are presupposed to tortured romance. There’s an epidemic of long-distance lezzas and WiFi wifeys, and technology is our saviour. How did people cope in the days before 4G? Did they send carrier pigeons with love sonnets scrawled on parchment? Or were they too busy shoving miniature tapestries of their sweethearts face down their bloomers?

One of the toughest things about long-distance love is the inevitable emotional self-harming, and by that I mean obsessive stalking on social media. I could regularly be found, merlot in hand, losing my proverbial and my last shred of dignity over any remotely unusual online activity. “Whaddya mean she LIKED your PROFILE PICTURE?? How am I supposed to live in conditions like these??”

But despite all the drawbacks, the emotional anguish and the wrestling with your inner crazy bitch, I still don’t think you should settle because of geography. There’s a whole lot of world out there. What are the odds your soulmate lives right around the corner? Factor in the queer odds and it’s even more dire. “We’re incredible compatible, we have the same postcode.” Is neither convincing nor romantic. The reality is, the person you’re most suited to might not just happen to live within affordable Uber-ing distance. 

I am living, breathing, co-habiting proof that long-distance hook-ups can turn into lasting love. From one extreme to another, me and my M1 honey now live permanently squashed up against each other in our minuscule studio flat. 

So how do you survive if you find yourself in the perfect couple in a far from perfect situation (far being the operative word)? It comes to a point when you have to ask yourself if the pain is worth the payoff. Does the limited time you spend together make up for the extended hours you spend apart? And if it does, hang in there, shower her in sappy texts, Skype often and make a plan so that someday soon you can be together for real. 

Read the rest of Roxy’s article in the August 2017 issue of DIVA, available digitally right here.

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