One of the most perplexing concepts to grasp as a post-grad is how, in the name of all that is good and righteous, the weekends take light years to arrive; and when they finally do, they’re over before you have time to say “I hate Mondays.” I remember how much I used to dread the beginning of the week when I was a college student. Did I REALLY have to wake up at 8:45AM and walk across the quad to sit in a three-hour class that was half spent checking my tweets? Was it fair for a 21-year-old female to be forced to find a work study job where the duties included, but were not limited to: working on homework, going to Starbucks, and uploading pictures to Facebook? Oh, the trivial woes of a naïve undergrad.
I never knew how easy I had it until I was ripped from college (thanks a lot graduation day) and launched into the next stage of my life, where work is necessary and free time is limited. This weekend, in particular, seemed to fly by faster than usual. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was the last weekend I’ll be able to spend with my boyfriend until August.
Don’t misunderstand me, having an ambitious, determined boyfriend is something to celebrate, except when it comes time to pursue those ambitions in a new location. I’ve always been a firm believer in chasing your dreams. I’ve always been cautious. Combine those two personality traits and you have me: a 23-year-old receptionist by day; a dream seeker by night. With writing, this works. I can make a living during the week and work on my craft during my free time. I’m allowed to be a little cautious. With my boyfriend’s dream, however, there is no such thing as caution. You can’t half ass it. You can’t divide your time between school and work. Your time has to be spent on the dream. Every dime, every hour of effort—it all goes towards that. It’s the life of a musician, and it’s the dream he’s chasing.
First and foremost, let me state with unwavering certainty, that I not only support his choices, but I understand them. As an artist, I understand what it’s like to want to drop all of the responsibilities, all of the filing and answering phones, all of the cable bills and broker fees, and just do it. Pack a bag, withdraw your savings, and just go for it. Throw your mind, body, and soul into it. But being the cautious creature that I am, I never go that route. My boyfriend, on the other hand, loves it, thrives off of it, and I love him for it. What I don’t love is increasing the distance that separates our already long distance relationship (Binghamton vs. Queens). In pursuit of the dream, he left for Vegas last night to record a demo using his brother’s studio. I know, I know, boo friggen’ hoo.
So in honor of these very recent events, I decided to dedicate this blog to long distance relationships: why they suck and why we stick around.
1-Absence Makes the Heart…
Must I state the obvious? “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I hate this phrase. My reasons are twofold: 1) it’s the absolute truth and 2) it’s a lot more complicated that that phrase makes it seem. While absence does, indeed, make the heart grow fonder, it also does a bunch of other shit to it that you figure out along the way, in stages. The days vary. Saturday nights and Tuesday mornings are in different leagues, with no shot at competing with one another. When your days are filled with kickboxing classes, two-for-one margaritas, and 4AM joyrides with your friends, the distance is simple. You aren’t near each other, but the view isn’t so different. It’s manageable; he’s a phone call away. Things aren’t so bad. But before you know it, Saturday night is over, and somehow you’ve managed to make it through two days before your tear ducts are like, “Hey, it’s been two days. I think she’s due for a good cry.” Shit is no joke. And I blame it on our overly-feminine sense of nostalgia, always acting up at the worst moments. It crawls into your bed sheets, reminding you of the time you both stayed up all night eating Sour Patches and watching How I Met Your Mother. It recognizes the cologne that the guy in the elevator is wearing, and oh yes, it reminds you of your boo’s scent. Just when you thought you couldn’t hate Tuesday any more than you already did (personally, it’s my least favorite day of the week), nostalgia creeps out of the woodwork and messes with your temporarily lonely heart. And it is during one of these extremely dramatic episodes when my long-lost sanity shows up (it goes into hiding every once in a while), rips my head out of my ass (sometimes it hides there), and reminds me of a few things (it’s smart too). First and foremost, don’t be embarrassed because you missed your boyfriend one night and cried about it. You need that. You deserve that. But girl, let’s be realistic about this. Once a week/during your period; sure, have yourself one grand sob fest. But that’s all you are allotted. And second, think about who your audience is. Your single roommate/single best friend/single sister can only tolerate so many conversations that begin with “Omg I miss him so much,” and end with “Omg I can’t wait to see him.” In the eyes of a single person (because trust me, I’ve been there, and this is exactly what has crossed my mind), feeling overtly sorry for yourself and complaining about how life sucks because you have someone to miss is like unintentionally rubbing it in their face. If they are your real friends, they are going to tend to your feelings and keep your mind occupied in the beginning, but only so much before you start to get irritating. It’s the honest to God truth.
After I found out that my boyfriend was going to Vegas for a month, I thought about visiting for a long weekend. I mean, who in their right mind wouldn’t think about doing that? To my bitter disappointment, flights in July are more expensive than I thought. Between rent, bills, groceries, and my own personal expenses (which are steadily climbing because my apartment is in walking distance to Express and Victoria’s Secret), there is no way I could pay for it, which brings me to my next pain: spending money on traveling. Whether it’s three times a month or every other weekend, traveling costs really do add up. There are ways to minimize the cost: driving a standard that eats up less gas, using your old college I.D. to get a student discount on bus tickets, taking the Metro-North during Off-Peak hours, but the fact still remains. You’re shelling out a decent amount of money just to get from Point A to Point B; and unless you really don’t care about seeing your significant other (in which case, you should definitely break up), there’s nothing you can do about it. I insist that public transportation create another discount box next to “Senior Citizen,” “Student,” and “Military,” for long distance significant others. Let’s call it LDSO for short.
3-Arguing About Arguing
Remember when I wrote that blog about picking your battles? Yeah, I learned that lesson the hard way when I got into my first hot-headed, long-distance argument with my boyfriend. It was over the phone. It was via text. It was everywhere. It sucked. After a while, I didn’t even know what my argument was. And when I reminded myself why I was so upset with him (Note to self: If you forget what you’re mad about, it’s probably not that important anyways), I ended up completely disagreeing with my reason. I argued so much that I began to argue with myself. See, that’s a common side effect of long-distance relationships. Maybe it stems from the frustration of not seeing the other person, or deep insecurities that even you’re not aware of; but for whatever reason, I find that people tend to argue more when they’re apart. Wise words that I’ve learned to live by: Pick. Your. Battles. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t argue about nothing. Don’t instigate arguments about nothing. And don’t get pissed off when your boyfriend points it out to you (we have to give them credit sometimes, I guess).
1-Case of the Butterflies
Who in their right mind DOESN’T love the Butterfly Effect. And I’m not talking about the movie that involves Ashton Kutcher losing limbs and turning his love interest into a druggie by going back in time and changing his future (I recommend seeing it if you haven’t. This description is far worse than the actual plot). I mean the romantic kind. Everyone talks about the butterflies you get in the beginning, when you barely know the other person and you’re nervous about what’s to come. But what about the other kind? Let’s call them grown-up butterflies, for people who are more than just a few dates in. You haven’t seen your girlfriend in a month and she’s finally coming to visit. Of course you’ve got grown-up butterflies. It’s been two weeks, your bus is pulling into the station, and you can see your boyfriend’s car from your window seat. Here they come! I love the feeling; the anticipation, the renewed feeling of being in their arms again. The butterflies are a reminder (should you ever forget) of how happy you are in your relationship.
2-Everyone Needs Their “Me” Time
Anyone who says they don’t appreciate a little alone time is either legitimately insane or is lying to themselves and the rest of the world. No one loves spending time with their boyfriend more than moi, but I understand and appreciate the importance of being on my own sometimes, too. I know couples who live 10 minutes away from each other and hang out every single day. Now I’m not saying this isn’t ideal, but it does have the potential to trigger some tension when one of the two wants to be alone for a day or a night. Going out with your girls for a few drinks will probably turn into a bar night with your boyfriend. Ordering food and playing video games might lead to an impromptu sleepover with your lady. It happens because it’s convenient. Being long distance makes having “me” time possible. It gives each of you the chance to do your own thing without feeling guilty about it. Besides, my boyfriend’s interest in following me around Forever 21 is almost equal to my desire to watch him talk shit to unidentified, inanimate characters on COD.
3-Test of Time
Long distance relationships remind me of pull-ups in gym class. They’re a bitch, they’re difficult as all hell, and they’re easy to give up on. But there are those special individuals who tackle them instead of backing down. They work hard, put in the hours, and eventually gain enough strength to finish a complete set without breaking down. Even though I suck at doing pull-ups, I’ve got the long distance relationship thing down pat. It didn’t happen overnight, and it certainly wasn’t my first option, but it’s the hand that I was dealt. After more than a year of bus rides and cross-country flights, I’ve grown to embrace the distance. It’s hard to imagine at first. Why would I embrace an obstacle that is constantly making my relationship harder to maintain? For those of you in my situation, It’s a blessing in disguise, I promise you. Very few long distance relationships are able to withstand the stress that comes with all of those miles and minutes apart, so take pride in the fact that you two have made it this far without any major bumps in the road (the occasional pothole is to be expected). Above all else, long distance relationships are built on trust, communication, and love. Without those three components, the future of a relationship is questionable and ultimately impossible. With the right two people, long distance can work. The right guy will appreciate his girlfriend more; the right girl will learn to trust her boyfriend. They might fall more in love. With the right two people, distance can make a relationship stronger than anyone ever thought it could be. So yeah, pull-ups aren’t fun or easy. But who knows? The reward might very well be worth the extra effort.
There it is, in black and white, for all the world to see. It’s a guide to long distance loving. It has its flaws. It’s not bullet-proof. There are days when I do miss my boyfriend too much. There are also days when I hate his inconsistent texting skills (sorry in advance if you’re reading this bebe, but you know it’s true). There are days when I’m scared of the future. There are days when I wonder if the distance is worth it. Despite the contemplation and worry, I know that I have something great. There are no certainties when it comes to love and relationships. Maybe things will change. Maybe we won’t last forever. But this isn’t about certainty; it’s about being a part of something that is bigger than yourself. It’s about growing as a person and learning to love the right way.
The most precious things in life are also the hardest to attain. So put up with the struggle. Get over the distance. Just do it. And just be happy. Be happy that you are in a relationship with someone who is worth the four-hour bus rides and dropped Skype calls. Be even happier that they think you’re worth it, too.