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They found out how far love can travel

I exist in two places, here and where you are.

That’s the feeling you get when talking to Maria and Justin about their long-distance relationship. He lives and works in Miami, Florida; she’s pursuing a master’s degree in Bologna, Italy. We Polo’d with the couple to find out how they’re managing to do the near-impossible: nurture a love with an ocean between them.

As Maria raced between classes and Justin grilled out on a warm winter evening, he lifted a glass and took a sip. “If we’re going to talk about romance, I’m having some wine!”

Justin: Maria and I met at the end of March, and two months later she was leaving. We thought, let’s enjoy this for what it’s worth. But by the time she left, we were inseparable. I remember her calling and saying, ‘We’ve got to keep talking! This can’t end. I love you. You love me. This is something.’

Maria: The thought that we weren’t going to be able to be together, just because I was starting a different journey, was heartbreaking.

Justin: Long distance relationships are not a normal thing, you know? It’s not the way it’s supposed to be. You’re supposed to be with your lover. And the only thing we’re going to have is this phone?! That’s a big deal! Particularly because my love language is touch. And so is Maria’s. You want to feel her arms wrapped around you, and you can’t.

But when you love someone, you’re willing to find creative ways to make it work. So we tried WhatsApp and FaceTime, and really liked the face-to-face connection.

Maria: But it was frustrating! My phone kept saying, ‘Storage full.’ I had to delete Justin’s older messages to receive new ones. Then one of my roommates introduced me to Marco Polo. It’s been part of our life together ever since.

Maria: Now, my morning begins with a Polo from Justin. They’re always full of love and encouragement. His Polos are love notes.

Justin: We’ll exchange Polos all day. And often, we’re just talking about our day-to day lives.

Maria: For example, ‘I’m walking to school this morning – how’s it going?’ Or ‘I don’t know whether to go grocery shopping or to this event.’ Or, ‘I just broke this glass! This is my life right now!’

Justin: For me, sharing in the moments of life that seem mundane make a relationship special. That’s where the good stuff is.

Maria: We’ll make little drawings or send a picture, or change our voice to make the other person laugh. I personally love the helium filter. And I know that Justin really dislikes it! But it’s fun.

Justin: I always get a little dopamine rush when Maria adds hearts to my Polos or I see that she’s watching live while I’m talking. It’s true, it has that effect on you!

Maria: That’s why we use it. Even though we’re physically apart, we’re able to be emotionally intimate.

Justin: That’s a lot. That’s my heart! Oh my gosh. I’m going to toast to that.

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