Ah, Valentine’s Day! The one day of the year where we eat excessive amounts of chocolate expectantly, go out on dinner dates that are far too expensive and spend a lot of thought on gifts we aren’t sure express our feelings enough.
But if you’re with me and the 14 other million people in the country who will spend Valentine’s Day over a computer screen, you can settle for some nice conversation and finally pushing play on your TV show at the same time.
Long distance relationships aren’t all sunshine and human contact, as you may have guessed, but after two years of it, it has become second nature.
I first met my boyfriend of two and a half years here at Wittenberg when we competed on the track team together. He, a cute and mysterious junior, and I, a young and awkward freshman, seemed like the least likely of couples. But one mac and cheese date and a few episodes of “The Office” later, we dated for a full year before he graduated to the adult world.
He got a serious job in the sports industry working for the Sacramento River Cats; if you don’t know where Sacramento is, it’s in California. Yeah, that giant state on the other side of the country.
Not quite conducive for young love.
Fast-forward to today and we’ve been at the computer date game for quite some time now. We’ve become old pros at using Skype to see each other, calling each other for audio and pressing play on our newest TV binge at the same time. Sometimes we shake it up and play a game, drink and talk about our deepest weirdest thoughts, or plan our next visit together.
Every four months, I get to see him in California.
It has its perks, don’t get me wrong! He gets to focus on moving his way up the company, I get to work and play hard my last years of college and I get to go to California on all my vacations, even though Sacramento is not really that warm in the winter. Sounds great, right?
Well, after a while, it takes its toll.
We’ve been at the game far too long; we’ve exhausted our ideas and overdone our options.
Yet, we’re on the home stretch now; I graduate in May and I am searching for a job in his area, but we still have almost four months of computer screen dating left. Which seems like an eternity when you’ve been doing it for almost two years and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t putting a huge strain on what we have.
But when I sit back and think about what we have in person, the year we had here at Witt; the three-month “lets test out living together experiment” last summer; and the countless adventures on school vacations, I am reminded of why these electronic correspondences are worth it.
We’re perfect together, off the screen, and I can’t let a little boredom stand in the way of something amazing. The cliché, distance makes the heart grow fonder, is truer than you want to believe.
When we first saw each other after the initial three months apart, it was like fireworks on the fourth of July.
I’m kidding, but it was really freaking awesome.
When you’re apart for so long, you don’t take anything for granted. Holding hands is warmer, kissing is sweeter and every date is the best one you’ve been on.
The leaving part really stinks of course. You get all this fun for a week and then another four months of computer screens and misread texts that lead to arguments.
Do I think I could do another two years? Probably not. Do I regret the last two? Absolutely not.
If you were ever considering long distance, my first piece of advice would be to try it. We weren’t going to and I think it would have been the worst decision we ever would have made.
The thing about long distance is that it helps you find some time to get to know the other person’s the most intimate part: their brain. While that sounds kind of creepy, it’s true; you get a chance to really know your partner without any fog clogging your view.
The distance is also necessary to find yourself. You can’t give yourself to someone else if you don’t even know who you are. Once you figure that out, the distance helps you see what’s really there underneath physical contact and fun adventures. You find a friend first, so you can find a partner after.
To end with a cheesy quote, Helen Keller said it best: “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”