Love across the International Date Line

Love across the International Date Line
(Sarah Wilkins, For the Los Angeles Times)

My boyfriend, Jason, and I have been in a long-distance relationship for the last several months. He lives on another continent, in Australia, technically in the future. My today is his yesterday, and his today is my tomorrow, making it hard to live in the present moment together.

We Skype, Viber and Gchat every day. I plaster him all around me. A butterfly magnet holds up pictures of him on my refrigerator, his face is my iPhone wallpaper and my screen saver is an image of us from a New Year's Eve. I showcase these images to mask the distance.

But lately, the pictures next to my grocery list have faded. I have to rely on my memory to keep things in focus.

Here's how it started: We met at work two years ago. I was a production coordinator on an Australian talk show that was filming a season in Los Angeles, my home base.


"Jason, the head writer, is coming in from Australia today," my boss said.

When I heard his name, something clicked. My affinity for the name Jason, paired with stereotypes of Australian men, amplified my romantic visualization of my future co-worker.

Then I saw him. He stood a foot above me, wearing a plum-colored, button-down shirt. He had the bluest eyes I'd ever seen and a dreamy smile.

"Lovely to meet you," he said. His dimples were disarming.

"Nice to meet you too," I said.

And like a tongue-tied shrinking violet, I slunk back to my desk. I envisioned his Christmas card — his Naomi Watts look-alike wife and two gorgeous kids, standing on a flawless Australian beach.

His office was perpendicular to my desk. If I turned my head to the left, my eyes would involuntarily go to his head. But our jobs didn't require much interaction. He was writing jokes all day, while I was making call sheets and collecting location releases. My monotonous tasks allowed some daydreaming to creep in, taking me back to the high school freshman version of myself, lusting after an upperclassman. When he walked by my desk, I tried to not look up. But, every time, as he passed, our eyes locked.

I tried to find out what I could about him without being obvious. The talk-show host's assistant had worked with Jason for years, and she gratuitously threw out information.

"Besides my husband, Jason is the most beautiful person I know," she said.

More detective work revealed he had a wife but was going through a divorce. He was in his early 40s, didn't have kids but did have a girlfriend who was planning to visit. My Christmas card fantasy faded. But I was still intrigued.

One morning in the kitchen, I pretended to prepare a very important bowl of cereal, avoiding eye contact as he attempted small talk. I hurried back to my desk and then realized I had forgotten to pour milk on my Cheerios.

The girlfriend was scheduled to arrive midseason. Jason's buzzing anticipation around the office was making me cringe. My vision of a Naomi Watts-style wife still existed, so I could only assume the girlfriend must be a rocket scientist with remarkable skin — a beautiful and funny Madame Curie.

After she arrived, she was scheduled to attend the show's taping, and it was my responsibility to shepherd her through the hallways. I had plenty of time to observe her, and because she was blond and I'm a brunet, I convinced myself I wasn't his type.

Months flew by, and the girlfriend left. The wrap party was scheduled to take place the night before all the Australians departed. I went alone, arriving before Jason. When he came in, I tracked him, somewhat reluctantly. After circling the room, he got a drink and ended up next to me. Having never exchanged more than a few words, this was the first time we talked without interruptions.

We never left each other's side the entire night. Drinks flowed and confessions spilled.

"Betsy," he said. "I like you."

My whole scenario about what could never happen between us started to crumble. My secret crush had a crush on me. He felt wrong for admitting it because he was in a relationship and was leaving with no expectation of returning to Los Angeles.

"But we have tonight," I said, as we continued talking and laughing, enjoying each other in the moment.

The night ended with a kiss, leaving me sad. I thought I'd never see him again.

Six months after that December night, he returned, single, for the show's second season, and we've been together ever since. Today, two years later, he travels back and forth with the goal of moving here this year.

The reality of long distance has set in. We are closer than ever but still far apart. I want our future to start now.

Every time I see him at the LAX terminal, my heart drops and I relive my crush all over again and can't wait for the time when our moments correlate.

Betsy Farber is a Los Angeles writer.

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