Derek sits next to me sorting through his belongings, carefully selecting those items important enough to travel with him to New Hampshire. He leaves in just two sleeps.
His rapidly approaching departure time has me thinking about distance relationships. I’m no novice to the concept. I’ve put in plenty of time (probably more than my fair share) as one-half of a long-distance relationship.
The first was my high-school sweetheart. We decided on different colleges (Western for me, Eastern for him) and spent our first year of college making it work.
Next, I met a friend-of-a-friend at a party and we hit it off. Unfortunately I was still at Western and he attended Oregon State. But despite our separation, we managed to fall in love. And for about 13 months, we took turns driving long hours to see each other.
And then I met Derek at the worst possible time to start a relationship. We were both at Western (finally, I liked a boy at the same school) but I was leaving for grad school in just 2 months (sigh). Regardless, a relationship developed and we got to know each other over long phone chats and extended weekend stays for 9 months while I lived in Eugene. The distance shrunk considerably when I moved to Seattle and we were able to spend much more time together since his schedule was incredibly flexible for the last six months of grad school.
But just as Derek and I were finding our rhythm- just as I was getting used to having a local boyfriend- our lives insisted on change. For a month we will live on opposite coasts. Once I make my move, we will be closer. But farther from each other than we are now: about a two-hour drive away, depending on where Derek makes his home.
This time around, I just don’t know how I feel about it. I’m certain that it will be more challenging than past long-distant experiences, especially since we haven’t been apart much the last year. We’ve talked about ways to stay connected: web-cams, frequent phone calls, picture messages and letters. I switched my cell phone carrier so that we could talk and text without worry of overages. But even with this planning, I feel completely unprepared.
At the risk of sounding whiny, I just really don’t want the struggle of long-distance love. And I do love Derek. And I do feel positive about our future, I’m just not feeling so great about the idea of us being hours apart.
I think the sense of adventure we’ll both experience on our journeys east will help stay connected. We’re leaving a month apart, but we’ll have similar trips and make similar adjustments. Derek will be with me (although not always in person) as I navigate my way through the biggest life-change to date. And I’ll be there for him.
I feel both excited and terrified about this move and the impact it will have on our relationship. It could be a really great thing. Or it may not be. But there’s only one way to find out…