But it never did. And for five years my parents endured their own long distance relationship. As far as I knew, there was no mention of divorce or separation. They simply made it work. I went through my formative dating years under the bizarre and misinformed assumption that a happily married couple could remain just that way, at first cross country and later cross state. “We’ve never really had to work at our marriage,” my dad once told me. He looked at my mother. “Right? Have we?”
“Well, it was really tough when you got cancer and you had to go through the radiation.”
“Were you going to divorce me when I got cancer?!”
“Well, no! I just mean that it strained our marriage.”
“But that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean we’ve never talked about getting divorced.”
But I knew that was a lie. After the fourth year of my father’s weekly six-hour commute from New York City to Rochester (every Friday there, every Sunday back), my mother sold the house in Rochester and moved to New York so they could finally live together. She was miserable away from her friends and family in Rochester and suddenly the word divorce hovered around that house like a ghost. But it came with melancholy, not malice. “Sometimes I think your father would be better off without me holding him back,” my mom would say. And my father would say quietly, just to me, “If it wasn’t for me, your mother could still be in Rochester. And happy.” But divorce was just a far away, simple solution that no one would ever capitalize on. They could never be without each other, for better or for worse.
I never realized how this affected me or my views on relationships until I started to examine what I have with the LDC. What’s so wrong with long distance? With the way I grew up, I may never know.