What’s it like falling in love from thousands of miles away?

Author has chosen to be anonymous

Graphics by Zoie Sy

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The age of the internet has brought with it new conveniences and ways of communicating. You can shop online instead of brave traffic. You can connect with friends from school even when you’re home already. You can do so many things just with a few keystrokes.

But can you also fall in love?

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As a writer, words are my safety. Crafting them, putting together messages, all that. If I’m communicating, I feel in my element. Meeting someone else who loved to write made us instant friends–and soon enough days and days of words were strung between us. Those words chained themselves and drew out long and far, connecting continents, bridging gaps, braving oceans for the two of us who couldn’t have the luxury to be beside each other.

It wasn’t romantic instantaneously. I’d already known the sting of long-distance before and didn’t want it again. It had been a fun friendship, discussing the written word, comparing writing, helping each other grow as writers. He was talented and I was eager, and together we were creative machines. I’d never felt more generative in my life, and he thought the same.

Soon, we grew to talking about home life, about the day-to-day, the exciting to the very mundane. He was charming and funny, and I found myself laughing at his jokes deep in the night, so late the sun began to creep over the spray of stars above me. “It’s almost 6 AM,” I’d always say. “Another sunrise I get to share with you.”

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I looked for him. Every day. As soon as I woke, it’d be an instantaneous message: “Good morning.” Before bed: “Good night.” And I knew. I knew when I would walk by something small that reminded me of him and I had to let him know. “You’d love this,” I’d say. “I wish I were there,” he’d say, catching me off-guard.

He created in me a warmth, a want. To be kinder, to be better. And I think love works that way, magnifying the good and beautiful. And he made me feel beautiful. I had known him so well without ever seeing him in person. I knew everything about him–his hopes, his dreams, the way he liked his breakfast in the morning. I knew about his family, his pain, his fears. I knew about how much he wanted to be a doctor and how much he hated mint chocolate chip. I knew him inside out. And it felt no different from knowing someone who was here in Manila.

One night, drunk, he told me he loved me. And the way I wished he meant it the way I wanted him to, not just platonically, I knew I was deep in it.

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With all this came the keen sting of wanting to be closer. I’d told him, “I’m afraid I’ll need you to be here.” He understood. It hurt when I couldn’t feel him here, feel him beside me. Trace his jaw, brush his cheek, kiss him. It’d been a world of heartache. But every time he told me he wanted so badly to traverse the journey, it would comfort the great pain in my heart. I mentioned earlier that long-distance was something I tried before with someone who had to move away, but I was willing to brave that hurt again for him.

Falling in love from far away felt no different from being near, except that touch was of heightened importance. If I could feel him under my hands, I knew it’d complete the love I had bore for him. And if we could share the same sunrise at the same time, I knew I would be the happiest girl alive. I would tell him when the sun would set here that it was his now, and I gave it my well-wishes for him to wake up to. And he, with his words, said all he needed from the sun was to keep me safe and warm.

I knew I loved him the moment I saved him a seat in a restaurant I knew he’d never be able to go to. I wrote his name clumsily on a napkin and placed it across me. I stared at it, bright under the warm, setting sun. And I knew I wanted him there more than anything.

“I saved you a seat,” I told him, sending him a photo. He was caught off-guard this time. “Aw,” he said. “I really love you.”

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