I feel like the last few years of my life have been lived long distance. I know I said that in Part 1, but I felt it needed repeating.
Back to where I left off.
In May of that year, my now husband (then boyfriend) graduated with his second bachelor’s degree and commissioned into the United State Air Force. At this point, we had been dating for nine months, and we had spent the majority of those nine months in each others company. We literally spent almost every day together. Him leaving was like quitting cold turkey. I went from seeing him every day to seeing him once every 4-6 weeks. Needless to say, it was a huge adjustment, and a very unenjoyable one.
In August, I graduated with my master’s and started working in the city about an hour from where I grew up. I was living closer to my parents than I had been in five years, and I saw them frequently. My sister and her husband had just bought a house five minutes from my parents, so I saw them frequently, as well. Over the next twelve months, I enjoyed more quality time with my family than I’d had in years. In fact, it was the most time I had spent with all of them since my freshmen year of high school, when my sister and I were still under the same roof as my parents. That November, my niece was born, and it was an enormouse blessing being so close to all the people I loved.
All the people I loved, minus one. My then boyfriend/fiance (now husband) and I spent a total of 16 months living in separate states, only seeing each other once a month. Our entire engagement was spent living apart. I came home to an empty apartment each day after work and felt so lonely. Granted, I had friends in the city, and I already mentioned family close by, but I missed him like crazy. It was incredibly hard to have a relationship under such unnatural circumstances. We would get one weekend a month together, usually less than 48 hours, to try to get in four weeks worth of coupledom (Yes, coupledom. I’m aware it’s not a word. But you understand what I mean by it, right? This is how words start). I always felt like our weekends together were completely unnatural, as though we were on hyper speed trying to accomplish as much as possible in less than two days. I know I already used “unnatural” earlier in this paragraph, but it bears repeating. Living long distance is unnatural.
Then we got married and I moved to the South to be with him. If I thought it was an adjustment switching TO long distance, then it was a gigantic, monstrous, larger than life adjustment switching FROM long distance. We had both become accustomed to living alone and living apart. It was like we had forgotten how to be in the same space. We eventually remembered, but it took some time.
So here I was, here I still am, finally in the same location as the love of my life. But I’m still living long distance from someone I love. In fact, I’m living long distance from many people I love. It’s different, but ultimately feels the same. When I go back to visit my family, I feel the hyper speed all over again. I feel like I have to get in every possible minute of quality time I can before I have to leave again. So much so that sometimes I don’t even tell my friends I’m going to be in town, because I don’t want to be distracted from my family. Which just creates more long distance with my friends. It’s a never-ending cycle. No matter where I am, I’m still living long distance. And it’s unnatural. At least it is to me.
I know that a lot of people live long distance. In fact, many military families like mine will experience extended periods of long distance. I may experience that myself someday soon. And I know that many people move to different states after they graduate and it’s great for diversification and expanding your horizons and blah blah blah. But I still think that everyone I love should forever live within my home state’s boundaries. And I feel like that’s a legitimate request that should be fulfilled.
No, I don’t, actually. I know why people move away and I know the good in it. I’m just exhausted with long distance. And the holidays simultaneously make it less and more difficult to deal with.
What experiences have you had with long distance? Do you, like me, find it unnatural? Or do you find it welcoming? I know that some forms of long distance have definitely been welcome for me, namely going “away” to college (I use quotations here because my idea of “away” was about two hours from where I grew up). So if you like long distance, I somewhat get where you’re coming from. Feel free to try to persuade me to your ways; I’m up for anything that makes it easier to deal with.