We were conversing over Skype. It was late on her end and not so late on mine. We were talking about the distance between us, again. I’d just come back from seeing her in person for the first time, and we were sharing our surprise at how much we missed each other only days later.

I said , if I could get on a plane and come back, I would.

I know

, was the reply. (Suddenly I feel all Han Solo – J)

And then the comment was made. I’m not even sure what it was anymore, or which of us said it (though I suspect it was her (it was – J)). The gist was that the distance between us was brutal, that eight hours on a plane was severely unpleasant. But the phrase, eight hours had somehow come out as eight miles.

OH GOD I WISH. I remember she said this because it was in all caps. Eight miles were much more convenient than eight hours on a plane, we agreed. And from then on, the distance between us was not measured in real miles (4,324), nor in hours (anywhere from the proposed eight to a deeply disgusting twenty including layovers), but a magical combination between the two: Eight Miles.

It’s only eight miles, we’d say. Or, I’ll see you in eight miles. It had, quite simply, become a euphemism. A way to pretend that we were closer to each other than we actually were. It worked for a while. It made us feel better. It was our own secret joke.

Eventually, the time between making the joke increased, and then stopped. I don’t think that we’ve mentioned it in the last year or so, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that it’s been the hardest for us in terms of coping with long distance. Maybe it wasn’t adequate anymore. Maybe the idea that we really were much farther than eight miles apart hurt more than the joke could fix. The idea that those eight hours that I spent on the plane was really just the plane circling in circles over the airport for a long time before landing again had no longer become sufficient. Whatever the case, it stopped, and that’s okay, because the last six months especially have marked a large transition in our relationship.

I’d always talked about moving to England. She just gave me the support network that I needed to feel comfortable enough to make it happen. The summer ahead promises to be an expensive, daunting exhibition. I am an American pilgrim in reverse.

The daunting part is not so much the move; I have many friends here, I speak the language—probably with a deeper understanding and better fluency than some of the natives, as I briefly specialized in English linguistics—I’ve spent enough time in the country by this point that I think I’ll avoid culture shock relatively easily. Shopping is a pain. The English don’t believe in buying food in bulk, apparently. I digress. The daunting part isn’t moving to another country; it’s the idea that my Dom and I are putting our relationship to the ultimate test. We’ve been together for four years and eight months, we’ve talked to each other near enough all day, near enough every day in that time, but we’ve spent a total of three months in each other’s physical presence.

Three months. And not all at once. We are still, as one of my best friends would say, walking on roses.

The Dominant/submissive dynamic has carried us through the majority of our relation, and now we get to determine what parts of our relationship will change—not change. I don’t particularly like that word. Let’s call it evolve. For better or worse, our relationship will evolve. At the time of writing this, I’ve been in the country for approximately 10 days, and already certain of my rules have changed. I don’t write nightly e-mails to her anymore, I write them in the morning, after she’s gone to work, after I’ve dressed in what she’s told me to. Sometimes she lays clothes out for me, but mostly it’s the same as it was before. “Wear red.”

The last two days, we’ve gone over my to-do list together. I usually make one at work that lasts me for three or four days, but during the summer, I write one every morning while I have my coffee to keep me organized. She’s gone over it with me, provided me with tasks to do during the day. This, too, is a new dynamic in my submission. My Dom is taking more control over how I spend my time—or rather I am giving her more control over me. Submission is a gift, the saying goes. I invite her to take over certain decisions. “Is there anything you’d like me to do today?” “What would you like me to wear?” “Which collar would you like me to put on?”

I think it’s easier for her to exercise her dominance when the whim strikes her, too. “Woman,” (she calls me woman before giving me a command) “go make me a cup of tea.” Not particularly sexual, but it doesn’t have to be. Using domestic tasks to express my submission is a new experience, and I cherish it.

I still have a job. We talked long and hard about this. There was a lot of worrying on my part. I think she worried, too, but I think she didn’t want to compound my worrying by worrying in front of me. I didn’t want to chance yet another year of long distance. It’s been four and a half years, I thought. Enough is enough. I want to do this properly. She was the voice of reason. She knew I’d hate being a stay-at-home kitty if I had to do it full-time, and any time I started to lean unduly toward insistence that I come to the country on a fiancée visa, she reminded me of that, and of how much harder it would be for us if we decided that we weren’t a suitable for each other in person as over the internet. I grumbled to myself about it a lot, but she was doing her job as my partner and my Dominant: she was looking out for my well-being. So I was reminded of one of the first lessons I learned when entering the scene. Being a sub doesn’t mean losing your identity. I am surprised by how tempting it is to forget that, especially because I’ve prided myself so far in understanding that. She had to talk me into not trying to commute to work every day, too. I probably would have tried, regardless, but I fell in love with a flat we viewed, and it reminded me that I can still be my own person, even though I’ve moved a quarter of the way across the world to be with my Dom. But submission isn’t losing yourself in your Dom. You don’t automatically become a single unit, but rather two units who learn how to operate in tandem. Choreography without being choreographed.

So, I’m still a teacher. I start at my new school in September, and I’m trading eight miles for a healthy fifty-two, but it’s a much friendlier drive. No doubt, when I get settled into my flat, certain aspects of our relationship will regress back to long distance, but I imagine that because we’re both in the same time zone, even the regression will prove to have deviations from the routines of the last several years.

I guess the point of this is that we’ve undergone a transition. Healthy, and a little scary, but ultimately beneficial, and something that I wanted particularly to share with those submissives who have been in long distance relationships of over a few dozen miles, because the changes from one to the other can be a little surprising, and undoubtedly will raise small conflicts of opinion that will need to be addressed.

So my ending questions are these: Are there any of you who have already gone through this transition and who have advice to offer? What changes did your daily routine undergo? Did you have problems that needed to be sorted out, or was the transition smooth? How did the difference in distance ultimately affect the way you express your submission?