My boyfriend Ken and I have been together for four and a half years. Our love story is kind of ridiculous: we were in fourth grade together, and even have a class photo from that year (my eyes are closed. His mouth is open). We spent the next decade or so apart, and met again in my gap year, just a week before I was scheduled to return to the United States. Our first kiss was under a weeping willow tree next to a canal, well past midnight. Three days later, I rebooked my ticket to extend my stay. The rest is history.
Our fourth-grade class photo
According to an online counting tool I found, we've been dating for more than 1600 days. The vast majority of that time has been spent apart, with him in Leiden or Oakland, and me in Boston, Oxford, or Jerusalem. It hasn't always been easy, but we've made it work.
Some people in long-distance relationships seem to view their situation as less-than. I've never felt that way. Instead, I see it as a freeing arrangement, in which I can live my life much like my single friends: prioritizing friendships, school, and experiences, but coming home at the end of the day to talk to someone who loves and cherishes me.
When I frame our situation that way, it's not too hard. But once we have a date ahead of us when we finally get to see each other, it becomes so much harder for me. I start fixating on that date, on our plans, and on finally being able to see each other again. Now, that feeling is completely amplified: once we see each other this December, that's it. We'll be living together, sharing our lives indefinitely!
That new chapter of my life starts on January 1st, 135 days from now. We have 135 days left of distance, of dropped Skype calls, and of the “I love you,” “I miss you” merry-go-round. After that, we'll be together for real in what I believe to be the world's most beautiful apartment (a three-bedroom?! What is this madness?!). I could not be happier or more eager to start, but I'm trying not to let the number of days get too much into my head. Instead, I'm focusing on this last stretch as a last shot: at college, at student life, and at that free, me-first lifestyle before I happily succumb to coupons and door wreaths.
Basically, this semester I have one final paragraph of my college life before the next chapter starts. And while I'm itching for the next chapter, I'm going to make these last few months count.