Never really apart
In D&D, he’d be the intelligent one, and I’d be the wise one
Three years ago, we talked for the first time at a pub night in his frat house. Neither of us can remember what we talked about, only that we joked about Harvard students. After that night, we didn’t even remember each other’s names.
Days later, he was a student in an IAP class I was barely qualified to teach. I called him out for holding his knife in a silly way. I don’t believe him, but he claims that during that class he daydreamt and thought about how it was weird that anyone could date anyone, that even he could date the instructor. We barely remembered each other’s names from that time either.
A week or so passed, and my first relationship at MIT had ended. At another friendly gathering, I had to ask my sorority sister for his name. We hit it off and spent the entire time together. Our first date was going to the Museum of Science for a chocolate exhibit. Our second date was eating Chinese delivery and watching a movie with my living group later that night — everyone had voted for Fifty Shades of Grey. Some weeks later, we were cuddling in bed and I said “I love you” first, but he swears he thought about saying it before I did.
Two years ago, we built a ProjX project together. He knows a lot more about building things and is always patient when helping me with my projects. In return I try to be a good soundboard when he’s planning to build tiny robots. In D&D, he’d be the intelligent one, and I’d be the wise one.
A year ago, we were making plans for spring break and both got very sick. Whoever had more energy would cook food and get water for the other, and we spent every day sleeping and watching shows together. Every night I had to take out my contacts and put them in a hippo-shaped case, and eventually “hippo” came to mean “where are my contacts?” Over time we developed a shorthand of made-up words, including ones for “the humidifier is empty” and “turn the projector on.” I still think he’s better at making eggs-in-a-basket, even though I’m better at cooking.
A month ago we were in our dorm, celebrating our three-year anniversary and Valentine’s Day with brunch and chocolate and wine. We tried to assemble IKEA furniture without the instructions and took a shot every time we connected a piece wrong. In our final semester, he was going to finish his thesis and build all the robots he wanted. Now, the plan is to set up a makeshift workshop in our garage after we finish self-isolation.
Every time we’re apart, we each take a plushie. Each time we see each other, we switch. As I write this, we are self-isolating in separate rooms in my childhood home. When we were living in our dorm, we’d keep them together on a shelf. Now when we video call and watch movies together, we’ll play with our plushies. Recently, I’ve had lots of time to think and plan. Hopefully we’ll still be able to keep our summer plans, but who knows? In the meantime, I’m making a list of local restaurants I grew up with that I want him to try. Everything is take-out right now, but it’ll still be tasty and fun to show him the area I grew up in. It’ll be nice to be together again, once we’re no longer in isolation.
In our first few weeks of dating, we were inseparable. Now, three years later, I think we know how to be apart. We still miss each other a lot, but there’s a sense of comfort in knowing that when you’re back together in person, the connection will be there. I used to worry that we wouldn’t “click” again after being separate for a while, but three years have reassured me otherwise. We’ve already spent three summers apart, once with a 9-hour time difference that was challenging to plan calls around. No matter what happens with MIT, this country, or the world, I know he’s there for me.