When I was a wee boy and a beardless youth, I fell madly in love with a girl just down the street. Well, she would have been just down the street if her parents – who were besties with my parents – hadn’t moved to Hermiston, Oregon.

I would have probably never fallen so hard if it weren’t for the annual treks her family would make up to Renton to visit their grandmother. It was during one of those summer visits that I met Lori, who, like most 14-year-old girls, was far more mature (and developed) than boys her age, including me.

We spent a lot of time in my treehouse, my de facto place to take a girl at the age of 14. When I was 16, I had the keys to the car, so we were off to more private places to explore the wonders of one another, as long as I had a pocket of quarters to keep her baby brother at bay and far away.

Having a long distance relationship was so exciting then. At least until the day that letter came in the mail. She had met someone else and in the process, broke my little heart. It was so broken that I took every letter she had sent me, and ever photo she had given me, into the backyard and torched it all. Take that Lori!

You’d think that would have cured me of long distance relationships. They never work out.

Fast forward eight years and I was in the Cayman Islands. I had met a girl there from New Orleans. Faith. She had a southern accent, then a weakness of mine, and lived in The Big Easy. How much more exotic and long distance could it get?

Our romance lasted about a year. She would fly up here on her husband’s dime, sending me Fed Ex packages of her lingerie before her visit, much to the delight of my fellow mailroom workers. We would have a whirlwind visit, then she would fly back to Louisiana.

I never went to see her in New Orleans. She did, however, fly me down to Disneyland. It was there that I found out that I wasn’t the only one she was two-timing with. Words were spoken, feelings were hurt, all mine, and it ended right then and there. I flew back to Seattle. She flew back to the swamp from which she came.

You’d think that would have cured me of long distance relationships. After all, they never work out.

Then I went to Cayman in 1989. This time I met a girl from Amarillo, Texas. She was moving to San Francisco, which wasn’t quite as long distance as New Orleans, so maybe this one would work out. We began a commuter flight relationship, me flying down to the Bay Area; she flying up to Seattle on a monthly basis.

Things were going great. I decided to move to San Francisco. I stayed there a month. I was homesick. She eventually moved here, until the close proximity of the relationship showed that neither of us were suited to each other, me finally blocking the door in our townhouse to keep her from trying to take advantage of me in the night.

Now, you’d think that Lori, Faith and Psycho would have cured me of long distance relationships. They never work out.

But then I went south again. This time to Florida to play pirate for a week. I met a quirky reporter girl who seemed to have her heart set on me. There was no way I was going to take the bait this time.

Six months later I was in Florida. At least it wasn’t a long distance relationship. I gave up everything I knew and moved 3,000 miles across the country to make sure this relationship would work.

It started out swimmingly. It was like being on vacation. We even had season passes to all the Disney World parks. We had it all.

Then the prices went up at Disney. We didn’t buy an annual pass anymore. Instead, we moved to Melbourne. No, not the one in Australia. The Melbourne in Florida. The one that’s in the middle of nowhere. With all the excitement of any backwoods, hayseed town.

I was now without any distractions. I had lost all my Washington friends, my daughter was mad at me for moving, my son was no longer a constant or even weekend thing and I found myself in a living hell. Worse, we no longer went to Disney World.

And I knew long distance relationships didn’t work. I had a long history to prove it.

I’m a pretty smart guy, too. But I seem to be really dumb when it comes to love, especially long distance love. I just lose all my sensibilities.

Of course, it’s easy to look back and see the connections now. It’s clear as day. But back when I was still heartbroken over Lori, I didn’t understand that long distance relationships really don’t last. Oh, sure, one of my friends will pull up an obscure story of one that worked, perhaps even their own, but I know that this is the exception, not the rule. After all the fires of passion burn out, you come to find that you never really had anything in common, except perhaps a love of long-distance relationships where you never had to deal with one another for more than a couple days, or a long week at best.

I’ve finally learned to stay local. After searching the world for pretty girls, I found one right in my own backyard, so close that we could have walked right past one another any number of times at Lake Washington Beach Park, in the Renton Highlands or at the McDonalds on Rainier Avenue.

If only Rainier Valley had been just a couple of miles farther away, I could have had my first and only long-distance relationship with Kat instead of traipsing all over the continent looking for love in all the wrong places. It would have saved me a lot of time and heartache.

In the Emerald City, without an ounce of faith, but an abundance of grace,

  • Robb