We saw it coming months in advance. You try to prepare for it, but it doesn’t always go as planned. “It’s still a few months away,” you tell yourself.
And then a couple months pass.
“It’s still a few weeks away,” you try to justify.
And then a couple weeks pass. And you’re scheduling which days you’re going to have to work from home to help her move. And then you’re actually moving. And then you’re driving away with someone in the rearview mirror who you really don’t want to see in the rearview mirror.
It’s nothing some welling up and a depressing playlist can’t remedy. You know, until you get home and you have one less person to talk about your day or decompress with while watching episodes of Frasier that you’ve probably seen but can’t really remember because you always manage to fall asleep about an episode-and-a-half in.
But laboring over the fact that your relationship now has that disgusting stigma hanging over its head is possibly the most unhealthy thing you can do. Even mentioning the words “long” and “distance” together in a sentence while catching up with an old friend gets a noticeable shutter over the phone. You eventually get passed it, though.
Even then, the distance isn’t your biggest problem. It’s that you go from sharing time with someone else to spending a majority of your time trying to distract yourself. You can’t maintain the same composure and standard of living that you once could before. If you’re not careful, you turn into the most baseline, childish version of yourself.
It all started when I decided to go to the grocery store for the first time. Slowly but surely, pre-made pimento cheese dip started replacing apples and almond butter. The bread section acts as less of a gateway to the express checkout and more of a, “Damn, I’m gonna get me some o’ those sourdough samples.”
Upon returning from the store and unloading the caloric mess I just amassed without regard for a budget, I head to my bedroom. I try not to look at the empty dog crate and remember that I actually have to set my iPhone’s alarm rather than wake up to a puppy licking my face. That, perhaps, is the hardest part.
But then I devolve even more. Into the scumbag I remember being while I was single.
Clothes? Thrown on the chair instead of the hamper. My bed? It remains unmade. Empty drink receptacles begin to pile up on my bedside table. With terrible posture and elastic-waisted pants on, I lie down in bed and turn on the television. But rather than talk or get told, “Get off your damn phone,” I sit there on my phone. For the first time since Instagram stories were even unveiled, I run through every single story from the 648 people I follow.
“What now?” I wonder. I could cook dinner. But fuck, that seems like so much work. So much work.
“A cheeseburger sounds good.”
“…but so does a burrito.”
“…maybe I should just hit someone up and see if they want to grab some beers.”
Did you know that a single Bell’s Two Hearted Ale contains 210 calories? Did you also know that three of them taste very, very good, with the second better than the first and the third better than the second? Three of those is 200 more calories than a ham sandwich that contains two slices of white bread, four slices of ham, two slices of cheese, a tablespoon of mayo and a tablespoon of mustard. Whereas you should be eating those groceries you just overspent on at home, you’re off-program drinking the amount of calories that should be your actual dinner.
One thing you learn in a mature relationship is your counterpart’s limits. They know when you want to go home, and you know when they want to go home. Sooner than later, you want to go home at the same time. Your friends will tell you how lame it is that you don’t stay out after 11 anymore, but you’re also not going out for the same reasons you used to. You’ve deleted Bumble, you don’t want to listen to loud music and shouted conversations, and you’d rather be at home dozing off to those aforementioned Frasier episodes.
Boredom sets into your new routine. The routine when you want to go home early but don’t have anything to do anymore. There are ways to solve that boredom, though – retail therapy, bizarre digital wormholes, and overthinking trivial things you never used to care about because you shouldn’t care about them. One is bad for just the wallet, but all three snowball and become bad for the mind.
Without a positive counterpart and influence, everything gets a little lazier. Those drinks on the bedside table. The clothes on the chair. The meals you should be cooking but don’t really feel like taking on alone.
And then when you start your nightly FaceTime, you see a chin you didn’t realize you had. You think, “Eh, this distance isn’t so bad actually,” and go along as you did before. But then after pressing the red hang-up button with your thumb, you un-mute Frasier and spend the rest of the night numbing the boredom with stories from your friends.
All 648 of them. .
Image via Netflix