The Pains Of Being Far Apart
By Mark Guthrie
Regardless of which side of the white picketed love fence on which you are sitting – single or taken – Valentine’s Day can be a time of distress and upset. Those in relationships have the annoyance of finding the right gift and ensuring that they book the perfect restaurant; and singles have to put up with the constant reminder that they are indeed all alone in this world.
However, things could be worse. Spare a thought for the poor folk out there who are bit of both.
Yes, there is a good chance that many of you will have come to Japan and chosen to leave a loved one at home and are currently battling the minefield that is the long distance relationship. If I’m talking about you, you will know the sting of the upcoming lover’s day. In fact it could be argued that being in a long-distance relationship is by far the worst way to be at Valentine’s Day.
Your loved one is out of reach. Okay, this is a given. The whole idea of a long distance relationship is that you are a long distance away from each other. But at a time when the whole world is putting on heart tinted specs and gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes, you’re flicking through Facebook and staring at the pictures on your wall. ‘Oh, boo hoo’ the singletons out there may be sarcastically crying. ‘At least you have someone, it’s better than being totally alone’.
Well you’re wrong. Imagine you are really hungry, but have no food. Sucks, huh? Now imagine you are really hungry, and there is a huge cake on the table, but you are strapped to a chair, just out of reach. That’s a torture above waterboarding, that is.
It’s not the hope that kills you and at least for those of you who are alone have some hope of being with someone on Valentine’s Day. Okay, so it may not be the love of your life, but you can get out there and grab someone, anyone. You can head to the gaijin bars or nightclubs where there may be plenty of people who are, just like yourself, desperate for human contact on this most romantic of days.
You can pretend for one night that cupid in his infinite wisdom has thrown you together. Not those poor sods whose love is on another continent. They’ll be sat at home watching Sleepless in Seattle in their underwear and eating peanut butter directly from the jar. Alone. Again.
Temptation is rife because there is no going out of the house on Valentine’s day if you are in a long distance relationship. If your single friends take pity on you, they may suggest popping out for a drink or two, just to help you forget. But then, what if you do forget? What if your friends are so successful in helping you bury your beloved in the back of your brain that those singletons, the ones who are, don’t forget, desperate to be someone’s, anyone’s Valentine, start to look enticing? You are vulnerable, emotionally conflicted, and this makes you susceptible to your shoulder Satan whispering those dangerous words into your ear: “It’s okay, it’s not cheating, you’re on another continent. No one will ever know, it’s our little secret..” No, it’s much safer to be home, alone, thinking of your beloved.
Yes, your darling beloved, just think of them. What are they doing now, alone on the other side of the world? But are they alone? Who is to say that your partner isn’t out with their single friends, having their heads turned by impossibly beautiful singletons in their own country? You sent them a Happy Valentine’s Day message and they still haven’t replied. Okay, it was only five minutes ago and they are probably at work, or in the shower, or in bed… in bed with someone else!
Your mind goes into overdrive imagining all the romantic things they are doing, should be doing with you, but instead are locked in a blissful embrace with another. No, those people who are alone at Valentine’s day know no pain like this, as you scour social media to find some sign of infidelity: who are they following on Twitter? Are they red roses behind their Instagram selfie? Who is poking them on Facebook?!?! Until *ping* a message arrives. “Happy Valentine’s Day sweetheart! Let’s have a Skype dinner date.”
Ah, well they aren’t cheating on you, but now you kind of wish that they were, because there is nothing less romantic in the world than a Skype dinner date. For a start, there is a good chance that you are on wildly different time zones, and so while one of you is raising a glass of wine, the other is hoisting some OJ, or a pre-bed cocoa. And there is no way that you can share a meal. No, while your lover on the other side of the world is tucking in to your favourite romantic meal – you know, the one that you used to cook together – there is a good chance that you are pouring the water onto your cup ramen, or peeling back the plastic lid from your conbini sushi. Or maybe you went all out and put on a nabe pot.
Well, nothing says romance than screaming at a smoking computer with dashi all over it. But let’s say your date is successful, and heads towards its *ahem* conclusion. Well, have you tried being intimate on Skype? It’s not pretty, and there are so many questions: ‘how should I sit?’ ‘what should I do?’ ‘do I really make that face?’ and ‘oh my god is that your housemate that just walked in?”
So, when compared to the poor buggers in long distance relationships, things don’t seem so bleak, do they? So while you are stressing over the pressures of potential proposals, or are contemplating a life of emptying the litters of your 27 cats, keep in mind those in distance relationships. Yes, they may have their pie, but they most certainly cannot eat it.