“How do you spend 24 hours a day together for two years and remain happily married…let alone sane?”
The answer to that oft-asked question is the stuff of a future blog series. In the meantime, I remind people: “It wasn’t always so.”
There was a time when Dan and I were separated for 27 months. He was in San Francisco and I was in Estonia. And that was before Skype.
In those days, inexpensive, high quality internet calls weren't quite a reality. Regardless, I could only manage dial-up internet in my little Estonian Soviet-bloc flat. So Dan and I emailed constantly. We even exchanged letters and postcards (gasp! Remember hand-written letters?) – stacks of which stand as a testament to relationship endurance and remain packed away for posterity.
Dan also scoured the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown for phone cards. Even with the cheapest of cards, the price of international calls to Estonia was still moon-like. But he still managed to call me twice a week. (He jokes that we could finance another year of travel with what he spent on calls during those two years.)
Perhaps the communication skills we developed during that time explain “how do you put up with each other 24/7/365?” as much as they account for “how did you manage to be separated for so long?”
Enter Skype: The Remote Communication Aid
We use Skype all the time on the road to keep up with family and friends. It’s also our lifeline to follow up with our bank or chat with someone about a project.
Recently, I’ve come to appreciate its role in long-distance relationships.
Because of another lingering project that Dan hopes to launch before we depart for Guatemala, he and I have spent the last two weeks apart – a rarity in our two-plus years of travel. Although we are not physically together at the moment, there’s still continuity…thanks to Skype. It allows us to chat, talk and exchange files seamlessly, all for free.
In the morning, I check to see if he’s “green” () and I send a message to say good morning. Before going to bed, I give him a hug and a kiss, the Skype way.
I find myself laughing each night at those silly little rotating huggie bear emoticons. Cheesy stuff perhaps, but I enjoy going to sleep with a smile.
Skype is no replacement for being in one another's company and it doesn’t change the fact that we’re apart. I would still prefer a real hug to a virtual one any day. But a huggie bear hug will just have to do…at least until next week.