"Now, though, with Covid-19, for the first time in our relationship, I have no idea when I’ll next see him..."Photo courtesy of Jaemin Ban

1.6 km, an 8-minute bike ride, is the distance between my college, Homerton, and his college, Downing.

16,930 km, a 55-minute drive, then a 13-hour and a subsequent 8-hour plane trip, followed by a 34-minute train ride, and a 17-minute car trip, is the distance between my house in Malvern, Australia and his house in Lewes, England.

Before Covid-19, distance never was a big issue for me, even when I got into a relationship. Yes, I always missed my boyfriend when I was in Australia. Yes, it was also sad that I couldn’t just catch a train or drive to celebrate an anniversary or some other special occasion with him when I was back home. And, yes, I wished sometimes that I could just as easily see him when I was having a bad day. However, I never got down about it too much, as I was so lucky to be studying at one of the best universities in the world and to have an amazing boyfriend on top of that.

“There are still moments when I feel as if I’m fighting against this undefined and nebulous number of months, days, hours and minutes between our next encounter.”

Yet, as I think about what distance means to me at the moment, I wonder if I was too blasé about distance and what it meant to be in a relationship with someone who not only lives in a different country from me, but also in a different hemisphere. And don’t even get me started on the nine-hour time difference! Perhaps going out with someone from another country was never a big deal for me, as I always knew when I would see him next. Planes were always flying, multiple times a day, and borders were always open, so it was never a matter of if, but when, I would next see him.

Now, with Covid-19, for the first time in our relationship, I have no idea when I’ll next see him. As the Australian Government has banned almost all outgoing travel from Australia and all incoming travel for non-citizens and non-residents, it makes it increasingly difficult to know when we’ll be together again. There is now no definite reunion date to work towards or look forward to. As a result, time is not as relevant, as a day or a week passing no longer holds the same significance. There is no endgame: time, it seems, has dissolved into itself. In the meantime however, I still feel as if I’m fighting against this undefined and nebulous number of months, days, hours and minutes between our next encounter.

“It was at this moment that I recalled Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s line from The Little Prince that ‘the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart’.”

Having just celebrated our six-month anniversary, I look back and think of all the ways in which we had imagined celebrating it in Cambridge: from a picnic at Grantchester, with lots of cheese, to making dinner in his kitchen. Yet, it never occurred to either of us that we would be celebrating this milestone apart. Whilst my boyfriend did send me some cheese (it was delicious, thank you), and a bottle of champagne to try and replicate our plans, our anniversary was nothing like what I had envisaged.

However, this did not mean it was not special. Whilst the distance between us was still 16,930 km and the time difference between us was still 9 hours, I was reminded that perhaps some of my most beautiful experiences with him were not a result of being physically together, but a result of how they made me feel. It was at this moment that I recalled Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s line from The Little Prince that ‘the most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart’.


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In this light, whilst almost half of our relationship has now been spent in different countries, I hold out hope that if some of our best memories can be the best simply because of the way he made me feel, which can occur regardless of whether or not we are in the same country, maybe there is more hope than I thought. Maybe, just maybe, time and distance, are not as important as I first believed, because he can still make me happy from 16,930 km away and 9 hours apart.

With this said, I can’t wait for the distance between us to be 0km.

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