Paul Nakayama says long-distance dating can be A-OK. Guest columnist Far East Movement see things a little bit differently.
ISSUE: Summer 2010
DEPT: The Awful Truth
STORY: Paul Nakayama and Far East Movement
Whenever I go to karaoke (which is far too often for someone my age) I’m reminded of one of my personal greatest weaknesses — I can’t rap for spit, not even the easy Sesame Street ones meant for toddlers. I was always convinced that if I could just overcome this one hurdle, I would be surrounded by dozens of googly-eyed girlfriend candidates drawn to the masculine rhythms of rap as opposed to my Glee show tunes. And so when I had a chance to hang out with the boys of Far East Movement (FM) and see all the love they got from the ladies, I was surprised to learn that they have love maladies of their own — the issues of dealing with long distances. It’s my job, then, to let them know how good they got it. Long distance is not so bad, and can even be the perfect litmus for a relationship.
If you take a glance at my dating portfolio, you’ll notice a couple of things, besides the fact that it can fit into a fortune cookie. One, my relationships were almost all long term, and two, they almost all transitioned into long-distance relationships. Now, most of you would probably interpret this to mean that my girlfriends were forced to move to another state or country to escape my grasp, and some of you punks might be right. But my interpretation for this trend is that life is short and ever changing, and if you’re like FM, you’ve got to take to the road if you want to realize your ambitions. That means that in any relationship, there is a remarkable possibility of being separated by work or family or crazy 2012 earthquakes. This means, of course, that you either survive the distance or don’t. And me, well, I’m writing a relationship column while being almost monk-like single, so take a guess at my track record.
As painful and frustrating as long-distance relationships can be, I was always subconsciously drawn to them on some molecular level. My former roommate and I would have a running ritual whenever I traveled to another country. He’d say, “Don’t come back with a girlfriend!” I’d promise not to, even pinky swearing despite his homophobic protests, and yet a week later, I’d come home professing that I’d found love. I idealized these girls from Farawaynia, found everything to be marvelous and disregarded anything that resembled straitjackets. I’d fly home, thinking, “For her, I could do the whole long-distance thing.” But truth is, it never lasted very long or went beyond phone calls and IM chats that started and ended with “How was your day?” And why should it last? There was never a real connection strong enough to begin with that could sustain a relationship beyond the superficial.
Despite my failures with long-distance relationships and knowing logically that they’re unlikely to work, I’m still drawn to them … because of the “what ifs.” What if it did work? Would that make her The One? I hate drama as much as I hate mayonnaise or reality TV, but I suspect that I’m constantly finding myself in long-distance relationships because it’s the ultimate test. If you can survive living six hours apart, then you can survive petty arguments, jealousy and probably zombie attacks, because you will trust each other. I guess when I’ve been with a girl for a long time it’s good to know that we can survive anything, if we try. Of course, the problem is, most people I’ve dated didn’t really want to try. Hold on a sec while I wipe my tears with this here fiddle.
Now, the good news is, if the relationship is going to fail anyway, at least with a long-distance relationship you’ve got plenty of free time to do the things you want to do. I went out with my friends if I wanted. I’d spend Friday nights playing hours and hours of video games in my underwear while I stuffed my face full of Red Vines and drank eight liters of Mountain Dew. I’d dance along with America’s Best Dance Crew while eating out of a bucket of fried chicken. I’d choose to watch Bruckheimer over effing Nicholas Sparks. But, if we were living together and the relationship still went sour, well, then I suffered Letters to Juliet for absolutely nothing, and my soul would have a gaping hole in it the shape of a vagina. Yes, I know. Nicholas Sparks brings out the worst in me.
It’s hard being separated and making real relationships work. It takes more energy to send real love when you’re spanning hundreds of miles. But if you can survive it, then that’s good love right there, and that’s not something easily distilled. In my book, long distances aren’t necessarily non-starters for a relationship. Actually, in some ways, it’s a true starter because you have to really want it, and you’re forced to compromise to get the things that matter. And if you mess up, at least you’ve got a head start on running away or the time difference to think of an apology. There are worse things than being in love with someone on the other side of the planet … falling out of love with someone on the other side of the bed, for one. Hearing me rap is another.
FAR EAST MOVEMENT SAYS:
Tour life is a dream. You’re so removed from all immediate worries like bills, responsibilities and the general stress of everyday life. No one really knows you when you enter a city, and no one really knows you when you leave the next day. It’s just you and your best friends, going to new places, seeing new things and creating new memories. Life on the road is all we really know so when it comes to romance and relationships, what we know is quick and from a distance. A few of us have had long relationships with girls we might have loved or maybe still do, but keeping those relationships might be harder for us than getting a hit song on the radio.
Over the years we’ve learned good women need good attention, and good intentions don’t take the place of immediate action. We’re going to keep names out of this because we value our privacy, but we can each give examples from our lives for days on end. We’ll tell a few stories, so you know what we’re talking about.
One of us had a girl he wanted to ultimately marry. His mission was to do anything he could to be successful in the music business. He wanted the chance to be able to take care of her for the rest of her life. Extra late nights at the studio, months on tour, and all the hard work were motivated by wanting to take care of this girl and create a family. In the end, however, great intentions don’t make up for being around for things like cooking dinner or the holidays. Slowly that relationship turned to resentment and eventually died. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t make up for lost time. Buying a stuffed animal in every city stop or staying faithful through any temptation don’t counter the feelings a girl gets when her man is away.
Then there’s the flipside to this in FM. One of us has been able to keep a great relationship going like a Duracell battery. For a relationship to last with careers like ours, it takes two people that understand each other better than they understand the English language. This understanding is what allows for crazy trust, which will get you through the lowest, darkest times. We’re constantly away for months, but as soon as we step off the plane in L.A., she’s there to pick us up. Immediately, they chat like he never left. A relationship like that gives us all hope, but to earn what they have, you’ve got to endure more turbulence than our last flight to Tokyo. It takes a strong man to stay true to his woman at a club across the country or overseas, but it takes a stronger woman to trust that man.
As touring artists, we know the single life oh so well. When we were younger, people would always suggest finding a girl quick. Once our careers took off, it would be impossible to find someone who could understand our schedule without having that history in place. Late-night recording sessions, impromptu meetings, booze-fueled shows at nightclubs, tours that last for months can all spell trouble for a budding relationship. In this lifestyle, you always catch yourself looking out the window of the tour bus for your own Penny Lane, like the character from Almost Famous; someone who enjoys freedom and is willing to accompany you on the road. But most girls that we’re drawn to usually have day jobs or school they can’t leave behind. And, besides, we can’t bring anyone with us on the road, because space is tight and limited only to people who own a meaningful role on the tour. But the single life doesn’t necessarily mean we are lonely when it comes to the ladies. We meet some extraordinary girls that sweep us off our feet. It just means we haven’t been able to build that thing called “love” into a relationship. Maybe the time just isn’t right yet.
We love what we do and wouldn’t trade it for the world. Over the next few years, finding a balance between our dreams and our relationships will be essential to keep us inspired and movin’ like a Movement. We have a saying that we, the Far East Movement, are “Free Wired” … and we need girls who are the same. A “Free Wired” girl is supremely comfortable to wild out and just be herself. She’s wired not because she parties all night, but because she’s able to stay connected to us. Her communication skills are off the hook. It’s a free and full exchange in getting to know one another. If you run across one of us someday and want to get to know us, live free and stay wired.