Loving From a Distance (2,629 mi. to be exact)
Blogger: Camille Baechler
Life has this funny way of flipping things upside down just when you thought you had it all figured out – at least that’s what happened to me when I packed my life up and moved to California all the way from Virginia to start my first semester at Occidental, quite literally on the other side of the country from my other half.
I had always known that I wanted to get off the East coast. And why wouldn’t I? California really is THE place to go if you want to get away, start fresh, and explore the world on your own for the first time. I dreamed of palm trees and In-N-Out, and when my Occidental acceptance letter opened and spewed digital confetti all over my computer monitor all I could think was “I’m going to California! I’m going to California!”
And then I met Michael. Well, to be more accurate, I had known the dork for three years already, but for the first time I actually met him. It was January, T-8 months until I packed up and moved across the country to start at Occidental. I could smell a heartbreak from a mile away.
To say that I fell for Michael is an understatement. More accurately speaking I jumped off Mount Everest. It was clearer than a freshly-Windex-ed window to me that this boy was going to marry me one day. The remaining time before I left for college was a happy blur of sleepovers and breakfast at our favorite diner, road trips to the beach and screaming our lungs out at Busch Gardens. And just like that, he became my best friend, my partner in crime, my love.
When decision time came, it was a no-brainer to us to continue our relationship long distance. We knew it would not be easy, but we also knew that a bond like ours was too strong to just give up before we even gave it a chance. As soon as family and friends got word, however, doubt came rolling in like a snowball down a hill, collecting more and more negativity the further it went. My closest friends were encouraging, but you could tell they didn’t really believe it would work out. In today’s world of “Netflix and chill,” commitment is greeted with skepticism. Despite the negativity, Michael and I took it as a challenge: we wanted to prove everyone wrong. We wanted to be that lucky couple that’s still laughing and loving... even from a distance.
Come August I had said many tearful, snotty goodbyes. You don’t really realize how great your friends are until you are about to get on a plane and fly far far away. It feels like you are never going to meet such good people again. How can anyone in the world understand you as well as these people do? Those heart-wrenching goodbyes you see at the airport in Nicholas Sparks movies are real. And awful. After boarding that plane I knew nothing would ever be the same again.
My first week at Oxy was a hectic blur. I discovered a few things right off the bat: the food is excellent, the campus is gorgeous, and if you are lucky enough to get a dorm with AC, everyone else low-key hates you. The first few weeks at Oxy were hard on my LDR (long distance relationship). Running back and forth between volleyball and orientation left me tired, hungry, and frustrated.
As soon as classes started things got much more organized; having a set schedule made it easier to coordinate schedules and talk despite the three hour time difference. Surprisingly, there are a lot of things to do together even when you can’t physically be together. However, you must not coop yourself up in your room all day. It is super important to maintain strong relationships with people other than just your partner, that way you don’t feel isolated when you can’t physically be together. I quickly discovered how socially awkward I was at my new home; physically present but emotionally unavailable. Sometimes it is hard to connect with others, especially out at parties where lots (but definitely not all) of people are on the prowl for a “good time.” But despite the fabricated portrayals of college you see in movies like 21 Jump Street, not everyone is out to just hook up and drink! Odds are good that you will find someone you click well with, no matter your hobbies and interests.
Despite 2,649 miles between us, I am happy to say that my relationship with Michael is stronger than ever. Being far away has taught me that there is no “right” way to have a relationship. If you are committed to making it work, a LDR is just as satisfying as any other relationship. Tricky as they are, LDRs are a blessing. One’s own optimism about the situation is just as important as trust and communication. Messages in digital form have much more wiggle room for misunderstanding, which is why it is important to be as open with your feelings as possible - if not, those tiny little worries will grow and grow. If I had let the doubt of others cloud my mind, I might have given up months ago. The distance is only as big as you make it.