For a direct flight from London Heathrow to Boston Logan International Airport, British Airways will credit a frequent flyer account with 3,267 miles, the great circle distance between the two cities. I have known this from memory for over three and a half years.
I know this because I’m in a long-distance relationship. At least, I am for the next 215 hours or so — a number thankfully known and ticking its way to zero. I know this sort of minutiae thanks to a paper trail, and, in my case, a personal compulsion to answer questions that are unimportant yet meaningful for how they describe the separation. Time spent in the same country: 353 days (a mere 25.6%, all said and done). Air miles totalled: about 60,000. Most interesting number of hours apart: 1,776.
While some people going long-distance will neither know nor care about this trivia for themselves, they definitely have a countdown they want to get to zero. If you’re in one, you’ll know what I mean. It describes the obstacle. It is the obstacle. Right up to the moment that barely any time is left at all, it can be agonising to think about.
My countdown is happily just over a week, which is much better than some painfully high, unknown mystery number hidden behind several questions no-one can really answer. After all the waiting, the reams of complex paperwork and a visit to United States Embassy (which was much more pleasant than I thought it would be), a week is nothing. Instead of historical facts and numbers and perpetually counting down, I can close the gap and — to use a possibly dangerous word — have a more normal life. Modern technology allows a lot with the near-constant connectivity of a smartphone, but it’s no substitute.
Maybe you’re in a long-distance relationship. Maybe it seems impossible to turn the brief stays into something permanent. But even when there’s an ocean to cover, it’s possible to get to a place where you can stop caring about hours, weeks, or months to go.
I also posted this on Medium.