Surviving an 8 Year Long Distance Relationship

This guest post was written by Alexandra, and Itinera Magica is her little slice of web. I’ve got to say – I am honored to have her long distance love story on this blog; because wow…if this story doesn’t make you leap into that summer fling, nothing will. You never know when a fling (especially when traveling) can turn into an epic love story that changes your life and introduces you to beautiful places (like this gorgeous castle they discovered together in Germany)


Eight years apart, seeing each other only on long week-ends or vacations, spending all our money on planes and international phone calls (until we discovered Skype). I had never thought it would come to this when I started flirting with this cute German boy on a warm June night. I thought this would be just a summer fling, a nice memory to pin in my mental photo album.

We walked along the edge of a dark forest at midnight and crossed moonlit lavender fields. I had just walked out of a complicated relationship which had left my heart shattered, and I didn’t want anything more than an ego-boosting flirt, but everything felt so right. We talked and talked, he was kind and thoughtful, and I felt safe. We did not even kiss. He just hugged me goodbye in a sweet lingering way, and I knew we both wanted to see each other again.
But he was going back to Germany the next morning. I asked if he was on MSN Messenger (yes, it was that time). He said he was moving right now and didn’t have internet. I asked for his cellphone number. He said he did not own one; he had inadvertently let the last one fall in a river and he was so mad at himself that he hadn’t bought a new one yet.

I thought with a pang of heartache that this was the most original way to tell a girl you don’t want to hear from her ever again. But then he asked for my mail address. Yes, the old fashioned one, the one which is linked to a mailbox and a mailman. I thought he was playing a joke on me, but still, I gave it to him.

Three days after that, I received a beautiful, heartfelt letter. And I wrote back.

Itinera Magica us
One month later, I boarded a plane to Nuremberg and discovered Franconia, the northern part of Bavaria.Everything looked like painted images out of a children’s book. Wooden crosses and pink flowers on the house’s walls, quaint little villages, and…metal heads everywhere. Germany’s music scene was so incredibly cool at that time. All the boys had long hair, which I loved, and played guitar or drums. In the summer, there were huge festivals, where you could camp in the mud, scream like a deranged caveman, and share beer and vegan cookies with your fellow maniacs. We camped in the fields and walked along the river Main and visited adorable little towns. I was on cloud nine.
But then I had to go back to France. And this back and forth lasted for eight years.

Everybody kept asking how we could bear being apart, and why we inflicted that on ourselves, but we couldn’t understand the logic of those who suggested we split up. Not seeing each other at all would be more painful than seeing each other a little, wouldn’t it?

Even after he finally got internet, we kept on writing letters. It was our thing.
At the beginning, we communicated in English. Then I started learning German and I ended up studying it. Now I have a PhD in German philology. You can say it was a major crush.
I hurt more than he did and I had more doubts.

I was the girl crying on planes every time I flew back to France and saw Germany fading away through the window.

He said he didn’t feel sad and he wouldn’t let doubt get the best of him, because he just knew it would work out eventually, and this faith in our story didn’t leave room for sorrow. He said he only wanted to allow himself to feel joy about us, and that I shouldn’t cry.
We got engaged quickly. We were walking through the streets of a little town on a French Riviera, and he saw me looking at a lovely heart-shaped ring in a shop window – I wasn’t meaning anything by it, but he asked if I wanted it to be my engagement ring. Obviously, I said yes.
We both had a study path which didn’t allow us to spend a long time abroad. I lived for eight months in Munich, and it was the best time ever. We were so happy to be together. We spent our week-ends in the Bavarian Alps, discovering the castles of the mad king Ludwig, watching swan lovers graciously floating on icy lakes. Then I went back to France, again.

Bavaria Swans in a Bavarian lake in winter. The king Ludwig loved them, because they stood for everlasting love.

He lived for eight months with me in Paris, but this didn’t go well. Paris may be romantic for a week-end, but it’s a hell of a city to live in. Everything was loud, smelly and complicated. We spent hours stuck in public transportation. We missed the smoothness of our life in Munich, which felt like a big green village. We were stressed out and argued a lot. I started to wonder if our fairytale was nothing but a fantasy. I was almost relieved when he went back to Munich, and felt awful about it. We resumed our long distance routines but I wondered if we would ever be together for good – and if I really wanted it to happen.

The Königsee (King’s Lake) is one of Bavaria’s most beautiful locations.
The Königsee (King’s Lake) is one of Bavaria’s most beautiful locations.

A year later, he was offered a PhD position in my home country, the beautiful Provence. Although he loved Munich, he didn’t hesitate. He said yes. Not only because of the warm sun and cheerful beaches of the Mediterranean, of long summers and cicadas. Because he still believed in us. We’ve been together for ten years now, eight years of long distance, and two years of French bliss. We still haven’t found our happily ever after: we still don’t know where life will take him at the end of his PhD. I hope we will stay in France, but the future is still blurry. Maybe we will go back to Germany, or maybe a whole new adventure awaits – the US?

The historic capital city of Provence, Aix-en-Provence, is our home now.

But we are sure about one thing. Whatever happens, we will stay together this time.

I don’t ever want to be the girl who cries on planes anymore.

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