It was the last week of term before reading week and I was dragged to the pub by my course mates. I’m not a pub person (I’m a bar or night club lady), but after three hours of data journalism, I thought – actually I could do with a drink.. It was at the pub where I was asked a familiar question: “You’re in a long distance relationship three years running – how?” How do you do it? Seriously, I feel like I’ve been asked this question more times than I’ve eaten jollof during the whole of 2016. Sometimes I wonder if I should write a book… I’m no relationships expert though – I only ever dated two boys during my college days, and college is for two years so you can tell those relationships didn’t last long, so I’ll start on here, for now.
After the two years with my current partner, I was asked the question more and more, and I began to think deeply about how we have been going strong. At first. I told people it’s because we established an emotional connection, during the early days of our relationship, and we had the super communication skills needed when it became long distance. Looking back now, I realise that there was more to it.
We first met in London, in June 2012. At the time my beautiful black king, born in Birmingham, was studying a BA in Digital Content Development in London, while I was studying a BA in English Literature. I never thought I would say this so adamantly but, I really was in the right place at the right time, and I still believe that the Most High Yah, planned for us to cross paths, not just so we could fall in love, but to fall in love with our blackness and what it means to re-build the black family unit.
I was at the 02 arena in north Greenwich, south London, with two friends from University. I remember going to the cinema there, to see the Amazing Spider-Man movie, and going to eat at Frankie’s & Bennie’s afterwards.
As I leave with friends. my future partner also leaves his university, which is literally next to the 02. One of my friends lights a cigarette as we walk towards the train station. He walks past, notices and approaches us, with a cigarette in his hand. He asks if he can borrow my friend’s lighter, and he talks to us for a bit. In my mind I’m thinking: “Hmmm he’s got a beautiful smile – but why is he talking to us? What does he want?” (I was 20 years young, and cautious of all men). He gave us his facebook details and said we could add him and meet up sometime. I added him, spoke to him during the summer holiday then when it was time for my second year of University, I completely forgot about him.
Yet, a year later in May 2013 I’m asked if I’d like to go on a date. After deliberating with the same two friends I was with when we first met, I accepted and soon, it became clear what he wanted – he was ready to settle long term and to settle meant to build and grow, to be open emotionally and to share our goals and dreams. This is what we’ve been focusing on since the beginning, before he left to go back to Birmingham only three months later. In fact, it wasn’t until we were separated that we both realised we had fallen for each other. The conversations we had about past relationships, our childhood, our self evaluations and life journey so far, really helped to reveal our characters and our mind-sets too each other. I felt like he knew me, and I knew him.
I remember telling him a month later, how I didn’t understand why he wanted to date a dark skinned black woman like me, (he has a caramel complexion, and I was very self-conscious and not exactly confident about my skin.). This surprised him. He told me: “I liked the way the light bounces off your skin. It glows.” It was at that point when we started talking about colourism, the willie lynch letter and the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was at that point that we openly spoke about the trauma black people carry – something which we need to do more of, especially as a couple, otherwise how else can we heal as a unit if we don’t talk about it? We are carrying our ancestors trauma whether we want to acknowledge it or not. They are us, and we are them, and we need to realise the healing power of black love.
The 2 hours and 20 minutes or 1 hour 20 minutes – depending on the cheap slow train or the expensive fast train (with a discount rail card for students of course), which seperates us has been a challenge and will continue to be, until we decide where to live… but we’ve leant to embrace it, based on the foundations we built when we were in the same city. Despite the distance, we found our truth, and we walk on a spiritual path together, and it is this spiritual connection which has elevated our relationship. This is why having an emotional connection and super communication skills are so important. You can’t connect spiritually unless you are emotionaly connected, and you know each other’s mind-sets, and you can’t connect emotionally if you don’t communicate that emotion in the first place. Not everyone will feel comfortable being open from the start, but if you feel the melanin vibes like we did, then don’t be afraid, share your mind. You’ll be amazed at what you learn about each other and what it means to be in a meaningful relationship with a black man or woman.
When you’re a black and a spiritually conscious couple, you are powerful. You have the power to heal your spirit, to remember who you are and the greatness you came from. You have the power to heal the brokenness in the black community and to heal the black family unit. Black love is real, beautiful and powerful. Find your foundation and build a black nation.
– Eunice –