Every love story starts differently. Mine started with a detour on a family trip through my mother and father’s respective homelands. He was five foot four of reserved chivalry and I was the picture of starry eyed not-quite-yet sweet sixteen.
It was only five years later at twenty that we would solidify that bond and begin our lives together in a long distance engagement that had only one big point of difference: he lives in Aleppo, Syria.
On the day of our first meeting all those years ago, we arrived at his home in the midst of an electricity outage that covered the city in a blanket of darkness – a strange and rare occurrence back then. We hadn’t really spoken until the trip came to an end, but I remember feeling his ambition as he spoke. He wanted to do something great with his life. He wanted to be somebody who possessed happiness. A whole lot has changed since then.
After eighteen months of a not-so-rosy-engagement and whole lot of drama though, I have decided that the glass is still half full.
That mindset is everything. You are able to find goodness in anything if you try hard enough. So, in the spirit of happiness through positive thinking, here are the five best things about being in a long distance relationship with somebody trapped by political conflict (happiness, here I come!):
1. Pajamas All Day
We have all had that one night where all we wanted to do was sit on the couch in our pajamas and watch rom coms until our eyelids won’t hold themselves open any longer. It’s particularly annoying when that night seems to fall on a date night and you have to not only drag yourself off the couch, but get dressed up and pretend to enjoy romantic small talk over dinner. Dinner is not an option when your nice Syrian man can’t even come down to see you for visits. What’s better is that even the possibility of a Skype date is quite slim and when the opportunity does arise, pajama bottoms are totally acceptable for the 5 minutes of good internet he can get while raising his phone to the ceiling of his dorm room.
Long distance not enough of a reason to skip buying presents for birthdays? Anniversaries? Valentine’s day?
Well how about this:
Walking into the post office with as much as a pen and asking how much postage to Aleppo costs will get you a few confused glances at the very least and if like me, you are a practicing Muslim who decides to observe Hijab*, the glances are more like “I am now calling the police from my iPhone under the desk and trying to keep you here till we arrive” suspicious. This will immediately give you a legitimate excuse to never, ever have the resources to send gifts, allowing you to save on both gift buying and postage.
A deposit on a new home just got heaps more achievable.
Having arguments is a part of any relationship and when they do happen to go unresolved, it can get a little awkward. Well, for most people that is.
Get yourself a long distance relationship with a man in Syria and you only have to discuss the problem for as long as his shoddy phone battery lasts. Electricity only really ever comes once daily for the middle class folk and hardly ever for anybody who can’t afford a generator meaning, given that you can avoid the phone for a few hours, you will never have to discuss that point of conflict. What’s more is that generator electricity tends to totally ruin batteries; so the longer you wait, the less time you will have to spend avoiding. In the end, you will both resort to using those precious few moments of battery life to reinforce your daily “I love you” and “ I miss you messages. With minimal luck, that ugly little tiff will never rear its ugly little head again.
4. No Major Arguments
Avoidance not really your thing? That’s okay, too. You probably will never have any major arguments that go unresolved for too long to begin with. Things like the future, children, that mean message you sent last Thursday (we all do this), won’t have enough time to become a priority. At the very least, you will be too overridden by the fact that gunshots and missile raids are far more common that you would have ever liked to keep him upset for too long. One of you will apologize every time any sign of conflict comes around, because the thought of losing one another is too hurtful and the possibility is all too real.
5. Sweet Solitude
When you are not squabbling over the few minutes of battery life your Syrian partner has to spare for the day, you can have as much time to yourself as you want. Unlike conventional relationships, or even ordinary long distance relationships, you won’t have to deal with the problem of being smothered. This will give you time to do things you would have otherwise missed while being in a relationship like going out with your girlfriends, reading that novel that you were meaning to begin last year and taking up several hobbies that you would have never otherwise discovered. With all that free time you might even be able to get that A grade you wanted this semester.
But wait, there’s more! This one is a definite selling point if you’ve ever been called clingy. While finding time to truly pursue your passions you also avoid being a clingy partner, in the greatest possible way.
There it is, a comprehensive list of just a few reasons why being in a long distance relationship with someone in Syria is not so bad. In fact, if you can get over the possibility of mortal disaster and the PTSD that follows, it can even be better than a conventional relationship. For me, it is the rose coloured shades from which i shall view happiness until the opportunity for the real thing avails.
*hijab: religious head covering and modest fashion worn by Muslim women