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this distance is dreaming

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Raj gets a letter every third day.

They Skype and email and leave each other Facebook messages a lot, but every third day there’s an actual real old-fashioned paper letter in the mail.

Stuart’s handwriting is pathologically neat, his cursive loops and hooks small even on the unlined paper, as if his body memory only lets him write as if he’s filling out order forms.

There are roughly a billion places in California that he could have studied nursing. But no — with his first patient back on her feet, Stuart had to decide to go study with his sister in New York. As if Annie’s full-blown medical degree means that she can help her brother with his homework any better than Raj can.

It’s more chemistry than physics, Stuart says in one of the early letters, as if the areas don’t overlap at all.

And: Maybe you should come visit. Annie’s place is only two bedrooms but I can sleep on the couch. The view from her apartment is amazing.

After the third letter, Raj starts writing back, exercising muscles that, considering he’s only lifting a pen, cramp remarkably fast.

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Raj signs his fifth letter love, Raj.

Stuart signs his eighth letter Stuart xx

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Raj signs his fourteenth letter love, Raj xoxo

Stuart signs his seventeenth letter with an anatomically correct heart.

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Raj signs his thirtieth letter love, Raj xoxo PS I wish I’d recorded that phone call.

Stuart signs his thirty-third letter Annie says if we don’t stop being transcontinentally adorable she’s going to fly over there and bring you back here herself. Stuart xx

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Raj signs his thirty-first letter, my flight gets into Newark at noon on Tuesday. I hear making out in airport terminals is an excellent jetlag remedy. Love, Raj xoxo