Chapter 67- The other “L” word

When I found out he didn’t get into U of T, all of my anxieties melted away and was replaced with sadness.

While I was too busy worrying about what a rejection could mean for our relationship, I didn’t think about how he would be affected by it. Now I felt sad because he was sad. Now I wish he had gotten in because it’s his dream.

I didn’t know what to say, so I just held him. He buried his face against my stomach and I rested my cheek on the top of his head. I could feel his chest rise and fall as he sighed sadly. The two of us stayed like that for a long time.

After awhile he felt ready to speak again.

“I’m bummed out.” He said.

“Me too.” I replied.

“Well…At least now we can move onto the next step.” Johan switched gears, never the one to waste time on unhelpful emotions.

“What are you thinking?”

“Stick to the original plan. If I didn’t get in this year, take the missing courses, apply again next year.” He was already in action mode while I remained in sadness mode.

“What about Michigan?” I reminded him.

About a month ago, Johan got notice of acceptance to the University of Michigan. I remember him bursting into the bathroom and sweeping me up into his arms. Good thing I was just washing my hands. He ranted ecstatically about it being one of the few schools that offered a dual degree in Social Work and Computer Sci. All of which could be done in 2.5 years. They also had a great design program that would allow him to incorporate technology with social outreach. It was beyond ideal. Almost too good to be true.

And it was.

For international students, a double masters would rack up a quarter of a million dollars in tuition. And no, being Canadian would not get him a neighborly discount. So while we were overjoyed that he got in, we also quickly ruled it out upon learning its price.

I thought he had given up on that, but instead he said, “I might defer it for a year.”

“But the tuition…”

“I could win the lottery in a year.”

An eternal optimist, Johan believed there’s always a way. If it were me, I would have thrown my hand up in defeat and gone crying home to mama. Then again, I’ve never wanted something that badly.

“What about us…” I recovered enough to remember.

Johan sighed again, “Any chance you could stay in China one more year?”

“I gave the school my resignation months ago.” I suddenly wished I had considered a coworker’s suggestion to quit when I find something better. Nooooo! I had to be all noble and tell them right away so they could find a replacement asap. Ugh.

“Any chance you could come to Toronto anyway?” I asked.

“It’s an expensive city, I can’t afford to wait around there.” He pointed out that even job searches would take time.

I was no position to help either, having not secured a job myself. My plan was to try for a year in Toronto. If the job market is still bad, then relocate. It made no sense for him to come if I might leave.

I was too unstable. He was too unstable. Everything was too up in the air to plan together. At this point we were both thinking of the other “L” word.

Long-Distance Relationship.

“Should we… consider long distance?” He spoke first of the taboo subject.

I winced as I recalled jokingly asking him to please get into U of T, because “I could NEVER EVER do long-distance!”

Note to self: Stop saying shit aloud.

“Would you be willing do long-distance for a year?” I asked shyly, wanting him to scream YES YES! ANYTHING TO BE WITH YOU!!!

“Would you?” He turned the table back at me.

I froze as a million conflicting thoughts raced through my brain.

“We don’t have to decide now.” He reached for my hand and held it in his. “I’m leaving for Guilin tomorrow, so let’s discuss when I come back.”

And just like that, he was gone for a week, leaving me in my own head.

Overwhelmed with emotions, I decided to seek advice from my most rational friend.

To: Ana S (Toronto)

From: Kat W (Shanghai)



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