Long Distance Isn’t Just for Schmucks

    Every high school had them: those couples that would start dating at the very end of senior year, embrace summer love and then, optimistically — and a little naively — tell each other they would stay together, even though they were going to college thousands of miles apart. Fast forward to winter break and you’d be lucky if you could find one pair that was still together.

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve thought long-distance relationships are for hopeless romantics (i.e., schmucks). I swore I would never be one of “those” people.

    Two years later, I’m in a relationship with a navy boy and — dare I say it — the “L” word is in the air. (And I don’t mean “lube.”) When we first started dating, he wasn’t scheduled to be deployed anytime in the next year. Unfortunately, a few months later, he got a call from his chief officer: In a month, he would be sent on a six-month deployment.

    Like high-school sweethearts, we made the most of that month: camping, rollerblading in PB and spending as much time together as possible. Then we were faced with decision of what we’d do after he left.

    Every couple thinks that they’re “different” and they can make it through the long distance. We believed the name.

    What was different, though, and more difficult, for us was that while most long-distance relationships stay connected via Skype, Facebook and phone calls, we have no such luck while he’s 5,000 miles away in the middle of the ocean.

    Technology is no longer an option. Instead, our communication is limited to that of a World-War-II-era couple: hand-written letters, care packages and photos that take weeks to arrive is the best we’ve got.

    As much as you can try to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for not seeing someone you love for six months, there’s really not much you can do other than constantly repeat that it’ll work out.

    At first, every little thing reminded me of him. I assumed that all those little memory triggers would eventually fade and life would return to the way it was before. But a month later, that’s still not the case.

    I’d be lying if I said it was easy and I never had doubts. What’s important is remembering to stay positive and trusting.

    While missed birthdays and holidays are hard, the cliché “things could be worse” has proven true. Instead of being deployed or off at college in some faraway state, he could be a musician on tour of every college town in America, with skanky co-eds throwing themselves at him at every last pit stop.

    Another thing to remember is to keep the negative people — people like the former me — at bay. While they may be your friends or coworkers, unless they’ve been in your situation, their opinion doesn’t hold much weight. People like them only cause unnecessary doubt; all you really need is a little extra postage and faith.

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