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Opinion

A tiny house of my own: Queering long-distance relationships

There is an idyllic turquoise box-shaped house less than five minutes away from my partner’s house.

It looks like a shed, but as a tiny house enthusiast, I find it charming.

“That’s muh vex house,” I joked.

“Oh, you have a vex house. Wow,” she laughed.

She had just taught me the concept of ‘vex money’ – cash you must always have, just in case you have an argument and need to pay for a meal or get a taxi home.

Proclaiming that ocean-hued delight my vex house took it to another level.

If you piss me off, I have somewhere to sleep.

Every time we pass that house, I look at it longingly.

It is part joke, part true desire.

I have a fascination with tiny houses, and I am determined to live alone.

Neither of these is particularly compatible with a long-term relationship, and it is certainly an unexpected topic of conversation in a long-distance relationship.

Alicia Wallace. Photo: Saavedra Photography.

‘We started with distance’

We have been in this queer long-distance relationship for two and a half years.

We understand each other in ways we cannot explain because we started with distance and filled it with high levels of communication.

We talked excessively, determined to know each other as intimately as possible.

We revealed truths as though our parents, exes, and friends from college were speaking through us.

We took the risk of sharing in ways that could have pushed each other away.

The vex house never seemed to be occupied.

The weeds grew tall and wild in the large front yard.

“What happen heh?”

My partner would gesture toward the unkempt grounds.

“Yuh doh pay somebody to maintain yuh vex house?”

I huffed and puffed about not having enough money to pay a landscaper and complained about the terrible contractor I hired.

“If you want something done right, do it yourself, eh?”

We often talked about gardening.

I wanted to get a vegetable and herb garden going, and she wanted palm trees, which I strongly opposed.

We didn’t do either.

‘A statement that threatened to erase fantasies’

In the beginning, we focused on our similarities, marvelling at them.

It was months later that we started to unveil more of ourselves – the histories no one dares to write and the weaknesses everyone instinctively covers up.

We disagreed with considerable calm, believing that we could always figure out how to make something work.

We just need to know enough, and that means never holding back.

I want to get married.

I don’t.

I might want to have a baby.

I don’t.

I never want to leave the region.

I do.

I don’t believe in god.

I might.

I don’t want to live with anyone.

Wait. What?

This wasn’t just about the vex house. We couldn’t laugh it off.

I’d made a definitive statement that threatened to erase fantasies of eventually, somehow, having a life together that involved waking up in the same bed, having breakfast in the same kitchen, having dinner together every night, and laughing as we make our way down the hall to the bedroom where we spend every night together.

‘Almost new again’

I love spending time with my partner.

There is nothing like feeling loved, desired, and considered in every way.

I have no aversion to being with her fulltime.

My preference is not at all related to who she is as a person, a partner, or a member of a household.

She is early morning fry bakes that take forever to make and no time to devour, bright walls to give the house the feeling of sunshine, random cuddle parties in the middle of the day, laidback glances out the window as the clothes on the line get drenched in the rain, and emergency ice cream in the freezer because that fixes most things.

Terianna. Photo: supplied.

My preference is about me.

She knows this, intellectually, but I don’t think that knowledge makes her void of feelings about it.

She would much prefer that we live together fulltime, and it is a desire I understand without sharing.

When I visit her for weeks or months at a time, I don’t feel crowded or desperate to leave.

It is a joy.

We spend long periods of time apart, so when we are together again, it is as though no amount of time is enough.

She is off work for a week upon my arrival and our relationship is almost new again, blossoming.

By the end of that week, I am ready for her to get back to work, to have my days to myself, and to happily welcome her back in the evening.

The day-long breaks don’t feel likely to be long enough when we are six months into being in the same place.

That, again, is all me.

I need space. Physical space.

‘Queering long-distance relationships’

The vex house is set back far from the road.

Another small house could easily be in the front yard.

There is great potential in the seemingly large space between the burst of turquoise, partially obscured by the thicket of wispy weeds, and the road.

There is nothing wrong with space.

Maybe not 1,800 miles of space for months at a time, but space is where, for me, good things happen.

Breath. Growth. Reflection. Creativity. Connection.

We built this relationship with, through, and on space.

We could withstand – even flourish in – the space between us, even on the same land mass.

We regard it as a challenge among others that are not bigger than us.

We don’t know what it will look like, but we are queering long-distance relationships beyond being women who love each other.

We are getting through one day at a time and looking forward to the day we figure it all out.

We aren’t barreling toward a future of certainty, but we are imagining it.

I picture a tiny house, just a stone’s throw away from her house.

It has a front porch with a swing. Sometimes we let it sway us as we watch the rain.

Between the two houses, there is a garden.

Vegetables and herbs on my side and palm trees on hers, I may never look at that vex house again.

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