Shortly after we started dating, Kevin and I were eating dinner at his aunt’s house and launched into a deep discussion about what came first: the elevator or the skyscraper. His aunt looked over at us confused and amused and said, “It’s like they have their own language.” Three years later, we’re still speaking it.
Kevin and I exchange news articles more frequently than love letters. We hold debates as often as we hold hands and share quotes as liberally as kisses. We share a kind of intimacy that I didn’t expect: an intellectual connection rooted in curiosity and care for the world. I’ve learned more about the education system, urban planning, major league soccer and scary movies from him. In turn, I’ve tutored him in poetry, podcasts, important musical theater protagonists, and the absolute brilliance of Master Chef Jr. (Okay fine, he’s still reluctant to embrace that last one but the rest of those are true).
This is not always free from conflict. While sitting around with friends last winter – sports playing the background, beers casually in hand and chatter mostly mundane – we got into a big argument about gentrification. Our once-chattering friends made knowing eye contact with each other while Kevin and I rehashed our different perspectives in what turned into an hour-long debate. (That he, much to my disappointment, won).
In that argument, as in many others, Kevin challenged my opinion, and, in doing so, helped me to see things from a new and bigger-hearted perspective. And while Kevin’s heart is already plenty big – I know I’ve done the same for him, too.
So now we’ve been dating long distance for the last year and a half, and it’s not always easy. I miss getting milkshakes and long drives with good playlists and watching movies on the couch. There is comfort, though, in the realization that since our relationship is not tied to mutual friends and shared plans on the weekend, we won’t run out of things to talk about. We may not get to eat dinner together, but we can talk together about the latest debate, the latest book, the latest movie review, or the latest op-ed we thought really got it right. It doesn’t make long distance completely easy, but it sure makes it easy to understand why it’s worth it.
Looking forward, it gives me hope that growing up won’t mean growing apart, because we’re rooted in respect but challenged by each other. The world won’t run out of current events or good trivia board games, so I won’t run out of things I want to share with Kevin.
I’ve learned a lot from him. And while I’m plenty appreciative for what he’s taught me about pedestrian-friendly mixed use neighborhoods and the professional career of Lionel Messi – the thing I’ve loved learning the most is this new truth about love: that in caring about me, he also cares about my opinions, thoughts, interests and fascinations. He cares about me. He cares about what I think.
Flickr/ Jocelyn Catterson