It ended like this: I was down on my knees by the door, tying my shoes and concentrated on them. She was leaning against a doorframe to the next room, arms folded across her chest. I was avoiding her gaze. It was easier that way.
She said: "I feel like we've been here so many times." An appropriate cliché.
I grunted. I shrugged. I finished with the other shoe and stood up. I smoothed out the wrinkles in my sweatshirt, took my keys and wallet from the foyer table. I scanned the room for the rest of my belongings and caught her eyes. They were tired. She wanted me out. If she was done, we were done. She held the power. That's how it rolled.
In my blacker moments I'll tell you that long distance relationships don't work. I can say with some authority that they are awful, wretched beasts and will leave you feeling withered and depressed. You'll spend more time than necessary pining away and you'll find that yearning is the emotional equivalent of narcotic withdrawal.
I knew from the start that unless I was patient enough, mature enough and desperate enough to make the distance between us work, it probably wouldn't. A one-time healthy and intimate relationship was quickly replaced with bi-weekly phone conversations. Just two voices passing each other through telephone wire. I soldiered on anyway but I wasn't a saint. I used her as a scapegoat for all the other nonsense that was going on in my life, as so many of us unfortunately do with our partners. My eyes kept wandering and while I never acted on it, I would often wonder what life would be like if I just cut her loose and asked out this beautiful stranger at the coffee shop trading smiles with me between sips of her macchiato.
But I'm selling us way too short. We were groovy once and I'll love her for that, that girl I knew. And anyway, there are great benefits to long distance relationships that are rarely talked about. We can learn to communicate with each other on a level that may not have been afforded before when we were lying in bed all day, wrapped up in each other's limbs.
Also, it can be difficult for people to strike a balance between personal growth and commitment in a relationship. Both are important but one tends to dominate the other. In a long distance relationship, we're forced into finding this balance. The situation will harden us and force us to mature, no matter what. We're afforded the time to reflect on what commitment in this relationship really means to us. Nothing tests the strength of a relationship more effectively than chronic separation.
If we can get through it, we may be more mature and self-assured about ourselves as individuals and as a couple because of the separation. If we're open, honest and there for each other whenever, wherever, it may work. It may, because in the end it all comes down to how much we're willing to put up with the gross hassle of a long distance relationship and all the drama it breeds.
We tried all of this. It didn't work and we gradually grew apart. It was a slow smothering of the beast. After a year apart and a country between us, we gave it one last jolt to save its life but it died anyway. We recognized the corpse for what it was, right there in the foyer.
I dropped my gaze to the floor. "Well that's it then," I said.
"I guess so."
She smiled. I offered something closer to a grimace and then bolted out the door without saying goodbye. I marched on down the steps toward some different kind of life. It was a weird moment, like when a bicycle is shifting gears and nothing's in its right place. There are no songs or sounds for limbo, only the thudding of your broken, agitated heart.
I stood at my car and thought seriously about storming back inside, waving my finger in the air and making some dramatic, all-encompassing statement. But there was really nothing to say. I had nothing. It had all been said and several times over. We haven't spoken since.
On another note...
...if you can't stand living in Whistler, don't hate on it. There's nothing wrong with it. It's all in your head, mate. So just leave.
It seems that people who can't get along in Whistler came of age in a town or city with a completely different personality. As a result, they too have a completely different personality than what might jive with what Whistler has to offer.
And then, in the process of the inevitable self-exploration and confusion that comes with being new to a setting they don't understand, these people project the ugly parts of their own personality onto the people and landscapes of the place they now blame for their misery.
It happened to me anyway. I moved from Vancouver to Toronto and found those people to be shallow, cold, soulless, etc. I hated it. But now, being away from it, I realize it wasn't the people or the place that made my experience so miserable. It was about me all along and only about me.
The city wasn't a right fit, just as Whistler might not be a fit for you. Whistler is tolerant. And it isn't. It's fun. And it isn't. Just like Toronto, or London, or anywhere really. It depends on what you've seen and how you choose to see it.