We'd only met three weeks before and had been separated by 2000 miles since then, but Jenny and I were e mailing 10 times a day, talking on the phone every night, and hadn't had an awkward silence yet. So as I awaited her response to my offer to fly across the country and take her out to dinner, I was mentally measuring myself for the maroon velvet smoking jacket I would now require as the jet setting playboy I had clearly become.
But what I thought of as James Bond ishly bold seemed to strike Jenny as Austin Powers ly not, and she declined. I reminded myself that long distance romance was something no one did well. But the physical space between us wasn't the only problem, because the toughest distance to cross isn't measured in miles, or even inches, but in the micro leaps that separate one person's reality from another's. Sometimes there's no distance as great as the thickness of a human skull, the tundra like expanse of the kitchen table, the light years between two pillows on a queen size bed. That's why every relationship can feel like a long distance one.
Like many people, I have a history with the literal kind of LDR. When I was in my 20s, I had the romantic metabolism of a housefly. I was always buzzing around my girlfriends, noisy but elusive, too close but unreachable, until finally I would hurl myself at the invisible barrier between us and end up squashed on their patios. Long distance relationships were the only kind I was capable of then-they gave me a built in excuse for my emotional zigzagging, and I was only required to show up a few times a month.
In my 30s, I evolved into a lower primate. And by the time I met Jenny-this woman who made me laugh like an idiot to myself, in public, from 2000 miles away-I'd become enough of a human to actually get close to someone. I called her that day three years ago because I'd asked a female friend what I should do about this new long distance relationship I was in. She'd told me to pick up the phone and propose that I fly from L.A. to DC for a dinner date. So I did. Jenny's response: "Wow, that sounds like a lot of expense and effort for you to go through just for a dinner." The idea fizzled faster than you can say, "The lady will have the filet," so I let it die and cursed the friend who suggested it.
Then, a couple of months later, Jenny came to L.A. to visit a friend of hers. I asked her to dinner at my favorite Chinese restaurant, and she said yes. We ended up closing the place, and before the weekend was out, I knew I was going to become JetBlue's favorite customer. Within a year we were living together, and within two we were married, despite the fact that, as it turns out, Jenny hates Chinese food.
Nothing in my life has been more fun than hearing Jenny talk about hers. We came into the relationship having almost no idea what the other person actually did for a living, or what life was like in the deeply strange galaxy the other came from-mine the world of actors and writers who ate dinner over sinks well into their 30s, and hers of Washington politicos with monogrammed bath towels. But that "distance" has helped make our life together surprising and revealing. And sometimes annoying. But never boring. Such is the nature of a long distance relationship. Jenny and I began a conversation three years ago that we're still having, full of misunderstandings-some of them over the phone, some in the same room, all of them from a distance.