I’ve never been much of a risk-taker. When I was a little girl, I learned to sing and dance from watching Old Hollywood musicals, but I was such a coward about doing it in public that my mother forced me to take proper opera singing lessons, join a choir, and go for ballet and gymnastics. When I moved to Buffalo, I was so terrified of failing the Royal Pitches and University Choir auditions that I wasted my first semester hemming and hawing about whether or not I should actually audition.
When I moved back to Malaysia and got a taste of working in public relations, I decided that I hated it enough to want to leave and finally become a writer, but I was afraid that publishers wouldn’t find my writing good enough to want to hire me. So I wasted three years whining about how much I hated my career and lamenting my lot in life. (In retrospect, I can’t complain too much; working in public relations taught me everything I needed to know about how to survive working in a country like this)
Then when it came to relationships, I was adamant that none of them could be a long-distance one, because I knew my own insecurities would never be able to survive a relationship that was defined by an ocean (or three). So few people would be more surprised than I am to discover that I am now in a long-distance relationship.
I, the most insecure and jaded person I know, am in a relationship, if one can call it so, that for the last two months, has been defined by a body of water.
It’s something I never really wanted to think about up until a couple of weeks ago, primarily because it’s something that I never thought would happen again after my last long-distance relationship went up in flames. But now that I’ve had two whole months entirely to myself, I’ve had more than enough time to think, absorb and process everything and put certain things about this into perspective.
People ask me how I survive this, how I go from one day to the next just waiting for a call or a WhatsApp message, or waiting for him to either tell me that he’s coming back, or to finally pack up my life and join him, when they know I’ve never been the most patient in all other aspects of my life. Half the time I have to wonder at it myself, as I never in my wildest dreams — or nightmares — thought I would be the kind of woman who would get into a relationship like this, especially one that involves me putting myself at risk of getting hurt every single day, let alone do it a second time four years after the first go-round crumbled about my ears. But I tell them that the waiting is actually the easiest part by comparison.
Because when you have to learn to set aside your differences in order to have a relationship that isn’t rife with resentment, the waiting is easy. When you have to learn to prioritize and focus on what is most important in keeping a relationship like this alive, the waiting is easy. When you have to decide whether certain things are worth fighting over or better off being left alone, the waiting is easy. When you have to tell yourself every single waking moment of the day that this is the life you signed up for and you don’t get to cry or rage over it because you chose it, the waiting is easy.
I don’t know where all my waiting will take me, and if I must be honest, I have to prepare myself for the possibility that it may not take me anywhere at all. But right now I know that as long as I never forget why I got into this in the first place, how I’m going to survive in it, and what we could stand to gain if everything turns out the way we want, I could wait the rest of my life.